There are four main hormones that trigger the feelings of happiness: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins.
Understanding these chemicals and how they work can help you figure out ways to feel better during a stressful time.
The hormone dopamine is related to motivation and reward. It's why you feel good to reach a goal or lack interest when you have low dopamine.
How to boost it: While unhealthy habits like drinking, caffeine, eating sugar or consuming certain recreational drugs can increase this hormone, there are other ways to boost it. One way is to embrace a new goal and take small steps toward it every day. Your brain will reward you with dopamine each time you reach your goal.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood. It is important for reducing depression and regulating anxiety. It also regulates digestion, sleep, and bone health.
How to boost it: Confidence increases serotonin. One way to build confidence is to start a new exercise routine, which helps increase your confidence when you stick to it over time. Another is to find ways to get out of your comfort zone each day.
Oxytocin is also called the "love" hormone and is associated with how people bond and trust one another. It explains why you feel happy to cuddle with your pets. It also helps parents bond with their newborn.
How to boost it: You can boost oxytocin by being physically or emotionally close with others that you trust. Reach out to a friend or contact you want to know better.
Endorphines are linked with exercise. They function as natural painkillers that help minimize pain and maximize pleasure, explaining why an athlete may be able to push through a race with an injury that they don't notice until later.
How to boost it: Laughter will boost endorphins, so will eating dark chocolate, watching your favourite drama, working out, and meditating.
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