Our bodies are full of hormones, essentially chemical messengers that trigger cell responses throughout the whole body and brain.
A collection of hormones referred to as DOSE act as our “happy hormones”.
What are happy hormones?
There are four main hormones that play a part in our happiness and emotional wellbeing.
The happy hormones:
These hormones act as neurotransmitters relaying information in our brains – and they play an important role in regulating our mood, emotions, and overall sense of wellbeing.
Dopamine plays a role in pleasure, motivation, memory and attention. It’s sometimes dubbed the “reward” hormone as it is released when we are expecting a reward.
Dopamine plays a crucial role in our motivation and can contribute to feelings of excitement and satisfaction.
It also aids many processes in the body from digestion to processing pain.
Low levels of dopamine can result in reduced alertness, difficulty concentrating, a lack of enthusiasm, low self-esteem, and a lack of energy.
Unfortunately, we often get hits of dopamine from behaviours like scrolling on social media or overeating high-calorie foods, but there are much healthier ways that we can create dopamine.
Ways to boost dopamine:
- Get adequate sleep
- Listen to music
- Spend time in the sun
- Use to-do lists to accomplish tasks and goals
Oxytocin is involved in fostering trust, empathy, and social connection.
It promotes feelings of love, attachment, and a sense of security and is often called the “love” hormone.
Oxytocin also helps control key aspects of the reproductive system, including childbirth and the production of breast milk, and is the driving force behind attraction and caregiving.
Low levels of oxytocin have been linked to depression (particularly after giving birth), anxiety, low sex drive, lack of empathy for others, social difficulties, and loneliness.
Ways to boost oxytocin:
- Hugs and physical touch
- Massage and acupuncture
- Kissing and intimacy
- Stroking animals
- Spending time with friends and family
Serotonin is involved in regulating mood, emotions, and overall happiness and is often referred to as the “feel-good” hormone.
It helps to stabilise our moods and contributes to a sense of contentment.
Adequate levels of serotonin are associated with positive emotions, including joy, confidence, and relaxation and helps us to get good sleep.
Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression, aggression, impulsive behaviour, insomnia, dementia, and cognitive decline.
Most of our serotonin is produced in the gut rather than the brain, so it’s essential to eat a gut-friendly diet.
Ways to boost serotonin:
- Get out in bright daylight or use a daylight lamp
- Cold showers and open-water swimming
- SSRI based antidepressants
- Natural remedy St. John’s Wort
Endorphins are released in response to physical stress or pain and help alleviate discomfort. They are the body’s natural painkillers and are often known as “runners-high”.
Endorphins also contribute to a sense of euphoria, pleasure, and overall wellbeing.
Ways to boost endorphins:
- Adrenaline-rush activities
- Eating dark chocolate or spicy foods
Improving your happiness
These happy hormones; dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, work together in complex ways to regulate our moods and emotions.
Understanding their roles can help us identify activities and behaviours that can promote their release and contribute to our overall happiness and wellbeing.
But sometimes knowing what would help doesn’t mean we can motivate ourselves to do it, or indeed to stop doing the things that negatively impact us.
Then we begin to feel stuck, resentful, and lose hope of changing things for the better.
If you’d like some support to navigate how you’re feeling right now and how you can build your emotional resilience and boost your mental wellbeing, I’m here to help.
As a trained and experienced psychotherapeutic counsellor, I can guide you to work through your feelings in a safe and comfortable space and at your own pace.
You deserve to live a happy and fulfilling life without overwhelming despair or sadness, and it’s absolutely possible.
If you’d like to enquire about counselling sessions in Suffolk, or online, please get in touch with me.