After the events of 2020, all of us are looking for more ways to feel peace and joy. If “feel good” hormones are the key, what do they do and how can we increase their production? Let’s break it down.
Dopamine: This is a type of neurotransmitter. It’s often referred to as a “chemical messenger” because it travels through our bodies, helping us focus and find interest. Dopamine plays a significant role in how humans feel pleasure and is commonly triggered by a reward system pattern. However, too much or too little dopamine can cause a variety of problems. So how can we maintain just the right amount? Sunshine, adequate sleep and listening to music are simple ways the body releases dopamine. In addition, eating lots of protein aids in the production of dopamine.
Serotonin: Serotonin plays a central role in our emotions and mood. It stabilizes mood and promotes feelings of happiness. Too little serotonin can lead to depression, anxiety and overall poor health which is why serotonin is also a key component in many antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Diet also plays a large part in serotonin release because it’s made from amino acids. Foods such as dairy and red meat are rich in amino acids. Exercise is also a great way to release serotonin in the body.
Endorphins: Endorphins help regulate our bodies and play a major part in mood-boosting. The number one way to release endorphins is consistent exercise. Whether it’s walking or running, simply moving the body is the best way to boost your mood and release those hormones. Endorphins also reduce pain and promote social connection. They also alleviate depression, reduce stress and improve self-esteem.
By living a healthy lifestyle, those “feel good” hormones can be produced and released. It may be simple in theory, but difficult to practice. Getting adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet and exercising consistently can help us feel good, not just short-term, but for the time ahead.
This article first appeared in the January 2021 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.