Five ways to boost your happy hormones!
If I can think of any way to sum up the 21st Century so far, it’s with the buzzword of ‘self-care’.
Oh I’m not complaining, I think it’s great! The fact that for the last twenty years or so we as individuals have finally been making pointed moves towards looking after our minds as well as our bodies is very exciting.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do. The world turns so fast nowadays, we wake up, get stuff done, and before you know it you’re brushing your teeth and climbing into bed, without once checking in with yourself or how you’re feeling.
Stress and anxiety are big buzzwords too, and for good reason. With all we have to get done we can sometimes feel overwhelmed and burned out, and a sneaky little chemical called cortisol can start playing havoc with your brain and body.
But fear not, help is at hand! From where I’m standing, the emphasis on self care is starting to shift from spa days and holidays (things that are super expensive and not feasible for a lot of people) to little everyday things. This is much more manageable and make a big impact on how your body makes your happy hormones.
The happy hormones I’m talking about are serotonin and dopamine, the chemicals that control how excited we feel, and how peaceful we feel. When we’re low on serotonin we can feel anxious, stressed or on edge, while being low on dopamine can make us feel bored, listless and with little or no drive.
So, in a nutshell, in order to increase these two hormones, we need to do things that calm us and things that excite us! We’ve compiled a small list of easy and manageable ideas that you can incorporate into your daily life (no breaking the bank for this one, pals!)
Do one thing that scares you each day
No, you don’t have to ride a rollercoaster every day, but even tiny things like asking your barista how they are can make your heart jump a little bit. Watching scary movies, jump out at your housemate, whatever gets the blood flowing and the dopamine going! Seeking a little thrill is linked to a rush of dopamine that will help elevate your mood, provided you feel safe and you’re not putting yourself in any real danger, mind!
Spend time that is simply enjoyable
If you’re anything like me, there’s a little pang of guilt that comes with doing something that isn’t productive or working towards something. But changing the way you see these activities can be really helpful to increase your serotonin without feeling any anxiety about wasted time. Because those activities are doing something: they are relaxing your mind and increasing your ability to work later! So if you enjoy baking, fancy pulling out the BBQ, gardening, having a bath, or just enjoying a cup of coffee on a crisp morning, these little things are so beneficial to your wellbeing.
Treat yo’ self
I know that I said that increasing your happy hormones shouldn’t cost the earth, but stay with me for a sec. Did you know that even just the act of putting money away has been found to increase dopamine? Maybe you fancy a day at the spa, or the theme park, or even a weekend break somewhere. Having a little self care fund that you pop a few quid in every now and again is a lovely and regular way you can increase that excitement, and once you’ve hit your target, that surge of accomplishment and pride will do wonders for your mental health!
Treat someone else
Another way to boost serotonin levels is to think of others. Another hormone, oxytocin (the love hormone) is closely linked with serotonin, and doing something for others give you a huge dose of both. It can be small, like sending a voice note or dropping them a call, or it can be bigger, like sending them an unexpected gift in the post.
Journalling has become big recently, although there have been famous journals and diaries throughout history. Keeping a journal is a lovely way of documenting your thoughts and feelings, reflecting on what has gone past and getting excited for what’s up ahead. If you can, I’d recommend investing in a notebook and pen that you really enjoy using, as that will make it easier to remember to do.
And there you have it! A few different ways to get you started on the path towards a happier, more peaceful you. Good luck!