How happy do you feel? 

How happy do you want to feel?

And, do you believe feelings of happiness are out of your control – that your circumstances and world events determine how happy you’ll feel in 2022 and beyond?

What if… experiencing sustainable happiness was as simple as deciding to feel happy? 

What if you took control and triggered the “happy” chemicals in your brain to feel happier and confident more often? 

Happiness isn’t somewhere “out there;” happiness starts in your brain, which you control.

Chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters are natural substances in the brain. These natural substances help with certain bodily processes. Their other function? Regulate mood.

By understanding how these natural substances work, you can learn to regulate and adjust them naturally.

In this post, we’ll cover four ways to increase the “happy” chemicals in your brain for you to feel happier more often.

What Are Happy Chemicals?

Our brain stimulates certain glands to release dozens of chemicals into the bloodstream. 

Anything your body does is regulated by one hormone or another. These chemicals, aka hormones, are involved in various bodily processes. They manage everything from digestion to heart rate to reproduction.

But the cool thing is that hormones also make us feel joy, sadness, bliss, or like we have boundless energy in addition to managing bodily processes! They’re known as feel-good or happy hormones.

These chemicals fluctuate throughout the day, which is why you can feel lethargic in the afternoon after lunch or excited about an upcoming party with friends.

Here are the main happy hormones in our bodies; we’ll cover them one by one and how they affect mood in the next section. 

  • Oxytocin
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Endorphins

4 Ways To Boost Your “Happy” Hormones

Ready for some good news for a change? You have power over these happy hormones! Here are four simple things you can do to make them work to your advantage. 

Find Time For Physical Activity 

Although physical activity has many health benefits, one of its most outstanding benefits is it influences our emotional and mental well-being!

Exercising your body for at least 20 minutes releases endorphins, which, according to science, induces a sense of euphoria.

Endorphins are the reason for the “runner’s high,” which we’ve all heard of. 

Athletes love endorphins because they block pain signals by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. As a result, your feeling of pain is considerably reduced.

You can take full advantage of your natural mood stabilizers by exercising outdoors. You’ll get a dose of serotonin coursing through your veins, along with endorphins. 

It’s even better if you can find some friends to exercise with because of the positive effects of social connection on well-being. Healthy interpersonal relationships boost mood and immunity, according to research. 

If your friends are busy, join a class and exercise with strangers. They won’t be strangers for long because you’ll strike up conversations and make new friends! And your brain will reward you with a shot of oxytocin.

Make Dinner With A Loved One

Here’s something to think about. In theory, preparing a meal and enjoying it with a loved one can trigger all four happy hormones! Let’s break it down one feel-good hormone at a time.

First of all, oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is released when you share special experiences with a loved one. Oxytocin is also known as the “love” hormone.

And here’s the great thing about oxytocin: it doesn’t specify what type of love!

Your brain will release oxytocin when you’re enjoying a romantic night with your partner or when you’re shaking someone’s hand.

Now, let’s talk about endorphins and dopamine. These are released whenever you’re eating something delicious.

Sharing a meal with your special someone boosts these hormones levels even more! 

And please also remember to laugh more. Science says laughter is “the best medicine” because it triggers endorphin release.

Finally, let’s talk about serotonin. A great way to boost serotonin is eating certain foods that restore gut health, especially foods containing tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid vital for your health, but your body can’t make it. You must eat foods that contain this amino acid, which your body transforms into serotonin.

Eating prebiotic foods is another terrific way to support healthy gut bacteria. By taking care of your microbiome, you can regulate your mental and emotional health.

So, eat better to feel happier. It’s that simple. Pretty impressive, right?

These are some foods that can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Some of them contain tryptophan, too! 

  • All types of berries
  • Citrus 
  • Fruits
  • Wheat and oats
  • Onions and garlic
  • Legumes
  • Mushrooms
  • Apples
  • Beetroot

Enjoy The Sunshine

According to research, just 10 to 15 minutes outside in the sunshine works wonders for our mood. Sunshine helps stimulate the production of endorphins and serotonin.

Even if it’s a bit cloudy, take a few minutes to enjoy the outdoors. And breathe deeply to fill your lungs with clean, fresh air, which has a calming effect on your mind and mood because of negative ions in the air. 

Remember to apply sunscreen after 15 or 20 minutes to protect your skin.

Why wait a few minutes to apply sunscreen? Because when you’re outside, your body absorbs Vitamin D from the sun, which activates the production of an enzyme that converts tryptophan into serotonin. But another thing sunshine does is convert cholesterol into vitamin D. So let your skin soak in the sun for a few minutes before applying sunscreen.

Lastly, sunshine cues certain areas in the retinas to produce serotonin. This phenomenon explains why many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in winter when the days are shorter. 

Do your best to get your daily dose of sunshine to feel happier!

Sleep! (And please make it more than just six hours.)

We require between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, few people recognize the link between sleep and hormones.

Not getting the sleep your body requires creates an imbalance of chemicals in the body. Dopamine is especially affected, and accordingly, wreaks havoc on your mood. You start suffering from mood swings, lethargy, and lack of focus.

If left unaddressed, this impacts mental health, spiraling into feelings of despair and depression. Not surprisingly, your physical health will start to suffer too.

The solution? Get quality sleep every night to feel happier, energized, and enjoy life more! 

Sleep helps with balancing your “happy” hormones, so you feel good. And guess what? You’ll manage stress better and improve your concentration skills.

Aim for 7-9 hours quality hours of sleep each night by following these tips:

  • Turn off all screens an hour before bedtime
  • Reduce the lighting and noise in your bedroom
  • Avoid caffeine at least two hours before bedtime (4-6 hours would be better)
  • Avoid heavy meals in the evening before bedtime
  • Meditate for at least five minutes before bedtime to relax and reduce stress
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time, even on weekends

Final Thoughts

You can’t control what happens in the “outside” world, but there are things you can do to manage your “inside” world to boost hormones that make you feel happier, stronger, confident, and more fulfilled. 

You can be happier in 2022 and beyond, much happier, simply by choosing to live a lifestyle that includes moderate amounts of physical activity, enjoying meals with loved ones, basking in the sunshine, and getting your sleep. 

Photo by Dale de Vera on Unsplash

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