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We react differently to different situations. The various emotions we experience are a result of chemical reactions taking place inside our bodies. The hormones released inside our body may either make us feel god or make us feel bad. So next time you are feeling low kindle your feel-good hormones. But a word of caution, though! This is not a long term solution. For prolonged happiness you need to deal with the problem that is making you feel low. Stimulating the feel-good hormones can help ease your agony till you are able to deal with the problem at hand.
Your body is either in the fight-or-flight (sympathetic) state or the rest and digest (parasympathetic) state of being. Due to everyday stress, most of the time, you are in the fight-or-flight state. De-stress yourself by helping your body release these feel good hormones:
The 'reward-pleasure hormone' Dopamine
It is the neurotransmitter that helps control the brain s reward and pleasure centres. It keeps you mentally alert. You can boost dopamine levels by doing these things.
1. Laughing out loud. It activates certain regions of the brain that release dopamine.
2. Set realistic goals and achieve it. Striving to achieve the set goal stimulates production of dopamine.
3. Set a target time or distance- while you exercise.
4. Kiss. According to a study, kissing your loved one promotes bonding by releasing dopamine.
5. Get a massage. It can lower the stress hormones and increase the feel-good hormone dopamine and happy hormone serotonin.
The 'happy hormone' Serotonin
It is the happy hormone which regulates your body s sleep-wake cycle and temperature. It also controls your appetite and lowers sensitivity to pain. It is the hormone that makes you feel satisfied. The mood-enhancing hormone can make you feel happy. Increase your serotonin level by using these tips.
1. Be in sunlight for a few minutes every day. Sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D, which plays a key role in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine by influencing the production of these neurotransmitters or making them more available at the junction of neurons.
2. Exercise daily. Brisk walking and aerobic exercise can do wonders.
3. Eat foods rich in carbohydrates. They can boost serotonin synthesis and levels.
4. Spice up your life with black pepper. Black pepper contains piperine, a compound that stimulates the nervous system and inhibits the activity of monoamine oxidase (enzymes responsible for depression). This spice also increases the levels of serotonin.
5. Get a massage. It can lower the stress hormone levels and increase levels of dopamine and serotonin.
The 'feel positive hormone' Endorphins
These hormones can reduce your anxiety and your perception of pain, and also act as a sedative. They are the feel positive hormones. Boost your endorphins with these simple techniques.
1. Exercise. Endorphins are released in the body as you exercise. This lowers your stress levels, thereby helping in combating depression. There is no need to perform strenuous exercises, even walking for 30 minutes every day can make a huge difference.
2. Sweat more. A good steam bath or sauna treatment can help rejuvenate the body, relax the muscles, melt away stress and tension, and revive the mind by promoting the release of endorphins.
3. Eat spicy foods. When capsaicin in spicy food comes in contact with receptors on your tongue, they send a signal to your brain similar to pain signal and trigger the production of endorphins.
4. Acupuncture. It is capable of treating various physical and mental ailments by releasing endorphins into the bloodstream.
The 'love hormone' Oxytocin
Oxytocin is the love hormone . The hormone is known for increasing bonding, social behaviour and closeness between parents, children and couples. In women, it is also produced during the childbirth process and during breastfeeding to increase the mother s bond with the baby. It also reduces your stress responses like anxiety, etc., encourages social interactions and motivates you to seek support. It also protects your heart from the effects of stress by helping heart cells regenerate. Ways you can increase this love hormone levels are:
1. Spend time with loved ones. Indulging in sex can help de-stress by releasing oxytocin. Even a hug can help release oxytocin.
2. Gett a massage. It can help release oxytocin along with increase in levels of dopamine and serotonin.
Why not Adrenaline?
An adrenaline surge can make you feel good. But as its levels starts to come down, the levels of cortisol build up slowly and stay high for a long time. High cortisol levels can affect memory and cause fatigue, anxiety, mood disorders, etc. Hence, an adrenaline rush may give you a high initially, but in due course negative thoughts kick in and you might end up feeling bad and restless.
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1. Young SN. How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience : JPN. 2007;32(6):394-399.
2. Fernstrom JD, Wurtman RJ. Brain serotonin content: increase following ingestion of carbohydrate diet. Science. 1971 Dec 3;174(4013):1023-5. PubMed PMID: 5120086.
3. Gutkowska J, Jankowski M. Oxytocin revisited: its role in cardiovascular regulation. J Neuroendocrinol. 2012 Apr;24(4):599-608. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2011.02235.x. Review. PubMed PMID: 21981277.
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