How to increase Happy Hormones
Something that is important to the majority of us humans is being happy. If someone was to ask you what do you want in life, I wonder how many of you would say happiness – I know I would.
It isn’t always easy to feel happy though. Sometimes we have reason to feel sad, grumpy or stressed, other times we are crying in the tinned food aisle of the supermarket for no reason (bloody hormones!!)
Thankfully, there are ways to increase your happiness, and no, it isn’t having someone to tell you to ‘cheer up, it might never happen.’
I’m talking about increasing those feel good, happy hormones. Low mood can sometimes be connected to complex chemical reactions happening in our bodies. Maybe it is at certain times of the month, or maybe certain times in our lives.
Thankfully, there are things we can do to help these chemicals increase.
In this blog, we are going to explore ways to boost oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins and dopamine. These are the hormones and neurotransmitters that play a big part in how happy we feel – aka the happy hormones!
Let’s look at ways to give them a little boost.
When you are feeling unhappy you might not feel like doing much more than curling up in a ball in front of the TV. However, movement can make you feel better. Moving and increasing your heart rate can give you an exercise induced euphoria.
If you don’t feel motivated to exercise alone then try going to a class, or ask a friend to go for a jog or even a power walk.
When you are unhappy, laughter can really help. There are actually laughter yoga classes where you spend some time laughing, practicing breathing techniques and in different poses. The more playful the better! It is used to help with depression and low mood. You can even find Youtube videos for this type of yoga if you can’t find a class near you.
Alternatively, put your favourite comedy TV show on or podcast. I highly recommend Greg Davis’ or Micky Flanagans stand up. They are available to watch or listen to on Spotify. Sometimes I listen in the car if I need a boost of endorphins on my way somewhere!
Your mood can be related to the foods you are eating. Thankfully, one of these happy hormone boosting foods is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains the neuromodulator phenylethylamine.
Another feel good food is oily fish which contains omega 3 fatty acids. This has been studied and shows promise in helping conditions such as bipolar, postnatal depression and other mood disorders. If you don’t eat many foods containing omega 3 fatty acids then you can easily buy a supplement, but always check with a healthcare provider before you start taking anything new.
Skipping meals or reducing your calorie intake can also mess with your mood. Ever been hangry?! Carry snacks on you!
Spending time outside and in the sunlight helps to boost your serotonin levels and endorphins. Go for a walk, a bike ride, explore somewhere new. Even in the depths of winter, get on your warm clothes and go outside for some fresh air. There is nothing quite like the feeling of coming in from the cold to a hot cup of tea and a warm house!
Listen to some music
We all have a song that makes us happy. Mine is Usher Yeah! There is something about that song that makes me happy, maybe it is the memories that it brings. If I am feeling unhappy I know I can put that song on loud, have a good sing and feel a little happier.
According to research, listening to instrumental music that gives you the chills may increase dopamine production in your brain. For me, this has to be Injection from Mission Impossible – give it a listen and let me know if it has the same effect on you!
Cuddle a pet
If you are feeling unhappy, angry or stressed try giving your pet a cuddle. This is particularly good if you have a furry friend, though it might be harder with a fish or lizard. By stroking and cuddling your pet you may help to boost oxytocin levels for both you and your pet.
Go to sleep
Humans fight sleep. One more episode. One more page of my book. One more… Animals don’t do this. When they’re tired they find a space to curl up and sleep.
Not getting enough sleep can cause an imbalance in your hormones. Dopamine is particularly affected by poor sleep. Take time to wind down each evening and set aside 7-9 hours to get a full sleep. If you are struggling to catch some zzz’s, check out our blog on nighttime routines.
How I increase happy hormones
We all have days where we just feel miserable. Maybe it’s just before my period, or maybe something has made me feel unhappy, stressed or worried.
Days like this I really need a boost of happy hormones. It actually happened to me the other day. I stopped breastfeeding and am pregnant so my hormones are wild. I cried uncontrollably for apparently no reason.
Here’s what I did.
- Had a shower. I felt this would help me to reset. I also carried on crying for abit in the shower because sometimes it’s cathartic and you just need it
- Went for a walk. Fresh air and movement always makes me feel better. I had some music on too
- Took a few deep breaths and wrote down what I was thankful for that day. Practicing gratitude really helps put things into perspective
- Spoke to my sister. Always good to tell someone how you feel. Especially when you know they’ll listen and tell you what you need to hear at that moment
What do you do to make yourself feel happier when your day, morning, moment or mood has turned into a shitshow? Tell us on IG. We are @itsouremedy