Naturally Boost Happy Hormones With These Healthy Tips
Doesn’t it feel good to feel good? Right now, more than ever, we need to treasure these little moments of happiness and do all we can to make sure there’s more of them. But aside from laughing with friends, sharing our gratitude for our family, and doing something simple for ourselves, how do we actually support happiness in the body?
As it turns out, happiness is as much of a feeling as it is a chemical reaction within the body. There are specific hormones, neurotransmitters, and other chemical messengers that produce reactions in the brain that contribute to these feelings of happiness. Serotonin, one of the better known ‘happy hormones’, is actually a neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy, calm, and content. Endorphins will likely be a familiar feeling, with the unexpected rush of happiness and energy after a workout. Progesterone, despite being crucial for fertility, is also a powerful anti-anxiety agent and anti-depressant, and let’s not forget about dopamine, the infamous love drug.
Once we develop an understanding of happiness being like almost any other reaction within the body, it’s easy to see how it can become influenced by simple changes in lifestyle factors or day-to-day moments. So when I’m feeling down, or a little less-than, I turn to these tips to naturally boost happy hormones.
Eat Foods That Support Happiness & Fuel The Body
Of course, I mean foods that make you feel happy, but you can also use knowledge of nutrition principles to eat a diet rich in foods that will support the production and reception of happy hormones throughout your body and in the brain. The neurotransmitter serotonin, for example, requires the amino acid tryptophan to regulate our mood, behavior, and memory. Natural sources of tryptophan include healthy animal proteins, as well as tofu, tempeh, chia seeds, buckwheat, and oats. It is also believed that starchy carbohydrates can help to support tryptophan transport throughout the body, facilitating our happy moods.
And as if we didn’t already know this one, chocolate goes a long way in putting us in a good mood! Good quality dark chocolate is a rich source of plant chemicals that offer powerful mood-boosting properties. These include anandamide, theobromine, tryptophan, and serotonin; some of the same molecules that your brain produces when you’re in love!
Finally, you can also consume a diet rich in foods that support detoxification throughout the liver, as the liver helps to regulate the body’s hormone levels and eliminate any excess as waste products. Some of the best ways to do that include eating a diet rich in alkalizing foods, upping your daily greens intake, or for a more intense detoxification process, consider a guided cleanse.
Meditation & Breathwork (Observe The Breath, Then Adjust)
These simple moments of relaxation and reflection make us feel good, but why? Meditation and breathwork not only offer us the opportunity to pause and invite a sense of calm into our daily life, but there’s also an ever-growing mountain of evidence to show exactly why it makes us feel good. Conscious breathing supports the transportation of oxygen, and the various nutrients it contains, throughout the body - which includes some compounds or chemicals essential for supporting our happy hormone (tryptophan for serotonin, etc.). Meditation, on the other hand, has been proven successful in rewiring neural pathways, among many other things, which can be crucial in ensuring our happy hormones are functioning as they should. Take the opportunity and begin with simply 5 minutes of meditation and conscious breathing each day, and watch the benefits flow.
Exercise & Movement (To Support Your Body & Mind - In A Way You Enjoy)
We’ve all heard of the runners high or been grateful for our endorphins after a sweaty spin class, but what is it about a big workout that makes us feel so happy? These endorphins are actually a chemical byproduct of exercise, which interact with the receptors in your brain to reduce the perceived feelings of pain. They react with the opiate receptors in our brain, which boosts pleasure and replicates that sense of runners high, and the feeling they trigger in the body is somewhat similar to a strong dose of morphine.
And it’s not just endorphins that are stimulated by exercise; moving your body is a good way to support dopamine and serotonin production for well-rounded happiness. Exercise and movement look different to everyone, every day too. So what may be a 10 mile run today, could turn into a gentle yoga flow tomorrow. It’s not just how hard you push yourself that supports this happy hormone, but the practice of moving your body in general.
Do Something Each Day That Brings You Joy
The evidence is there to support this simple practice, but the proof is truly in the pudding. When we’re doing something that we love, we’re infinitely happier, so make sure you schedule in the time every day to do something that brings you joy. It might be as easy as a 5-minute phone call to a family member or walking in nature with your pet or a close friend. Maybe you love unwinding while cooking a delicious meal, getting your thoughts out in the open while journaling, or reading a good book before bed. If you carve out even a second of space each day for pure, unapologetic joy, you’ll be infinitely happier each day.
Finding happiness is the key to living a fulfilling, healthy life, as our experiences of the world can impact our health in turn. And the days always feel a little better when they’re filled with smiles and laughter.
How do you support your happy hormones each day?