Reviewed by Dr. Ameya Kulkarni
Listening to your favourite song. Talking to a friend. Being in love. Playing with your child. Reading a good book. Dancing, singing, running or just engaging in your favourite activity. What is your foolproof way to happiness?
We all have our own understanding of what makes us happy. But have you thought about what changes in our body and in our mind that we suddenly start feeling blissful? Does our body have any magic potion that can make us feel good?
Types of Happiness hormones
Our body produces certain chemicals known as hormones which are responsible for how we feel at that point of time. These are produced by various important glands . Each hormone is generated in response to a particular activity and has some specific functions in relation to both our body and our mind.
Some of them also act as “neurotransmitters”, which are chemical messengers between various parts of the body and brain/nervous system. Let us look at them one by one:
Did you crack a difficult exam or ace a job interview? Every time you feel a sense of achievement or feel motivated, dopamine is produced in the body. So it is also called the "feel-good" hormone. It also acts as a reward system of the brain and also helps in learning, memory, decision making and sleep.
Ever wondered why hugs and kisses make one feel so good? Oxytocin, also known as "love hormone" is responsible for that blissful feeling when someone is in love. This hormone also peaks during childbirth and nursing and is helpful in parent-child bonding. Release of oxytocin helps in building trust and empathy in relationships.
Imagine having a terrible day. You are feeling low, struggling to sleep and have lost your appetite. Release of serotonin in your body can help stabilize your mood and fight the blues. This hormone helps to fight depression and most widely used anti-depressants work by increasing the level of serotonin in our body.
There are so many people who feel very good after a workout. This is because of the release of endorphins in the body. It is also known as a hormone responsible for a "runner's high" because endorphins peak soon after any form of exercise or rigorous physical activity. Another very important effect it has is that it helps the body fight pain and acts like a natural painkiller. No wonder exercise is a great mood elevator because of endorphins!
Estrogen and Progesterone
Other than the above four hormones, estrogen and progesterone are two chief reproductive hormones in females whose levels rise and fall during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. While estrogen is a feel good hormone and increases the secretion of serotonin, progesterone is the one responsible for mood swings during PMS and menopause. Hormonal therapy works by supplementing a combination of these hormones.
We can see that hormones play a very crucial role in our emotional well-being. So many day-to-day activities are proven to naturally boost the production of one, some or all of the above "feel-good" hormones.
10 ways to boost happy hormones
1. Walking, exercise, yoga or any form of sports
3. Hobbies like music, dance or any art form
4. Hugs, kisses, cuddling or any form of physical intimacy.
5. Good food
6. Travelling and change of place
7. Catching up with friends, social interaction; Playing with pets or children.
8. A good night's sleep
9. Getting adequate sun exposure
10. Aromatherapy and Massages
Change the way you feel
Isn't it great that we can change the way we feel just by understanding our body and its hormones a little better? Go ahead, indulge in your favourite activities and generate those feel good hormones; you can stop chasing happiness and let it chase you instead!