Feeling down or out of it? Having a hard time finding that spark of passion, drive or motivation? Do not worry, you are not alone and there are helpful ways and hacks to help boost that positive energy and help keep the peace.
Ever hear of a Neurotransmitter? These chemical messengers are something that we all possess and help us keep moving, feel the feels, keep our heart beating and help communicate within our bodies.
While we have many neurotransmitters, there are four important ones that help us experience the natural high of rewards, jump on the love train, stabilize our mood and help us ease the pain. These neurotransmitters are Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphin.
Sometimes our brain does a good job of releasing these chemical messengers, while other times, an intervention might need to come into play. However, there are natural “hacks” to increase these happy chemicals to give you just the amount you need to get you through your day. It should be noted that these hacks are viewed as coping mechanisms to help promote the natural increase of those happy chemicals within oneself.
Naturally Increase Your Dopamine
Dopamine is known as the “pleasure and reward chemical”. Dopamine does help associate feelings and sensations of pleasure with behaviors. Have you ever passed a really big exam, and felt that “natural high” afterwards? That is a natural dopamine surge.
While it is difficult to truly know off the top of your head if you have a balanced or unbalanced level of dopamine, natural ways to promote dopamine are through healthy habits and lifestyle.
Listed below are ways to get that natural dopamine hit:
- Finishing a task – check it off your checklist.
- Celebrating the small wins throughout your day – crushing that workout or answering an email.
- Eating good food- Bananas, protein, fish, fruits and vegetables, Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Getting a good night’s sleep – try to get at least 6-8 hours of restful, unbroken sleep.
- Exercise throughout your week – implement rhythmic exercises (moving your arms and legs at the same time) to help boost that dopamine hit.
Naturally Increase Your Oxytocin
If you want a quick way to remember what Oxytocin is, just envision the legendary matchmaker, Cupid.
Oxytocin is commonly known as the love hormone. While Oxytocin plays a big role in your brain, it helps deepen and strengthen relationships and helps with emotional responses. Oxytocin surges can happen with childbirth and breastfeeding and in intimate relationships, but can also be seen following positive social and or/physical interactions with others.
Provided below are natural ways to be hit by Cupid’s arrow:
- Physical touch- hold hands, hug your animal/pet, cuddling up under a blanket or give a smooch to the ones you love.
- Practice gratitude and give a compliment- hype up someone you know or give a compliment to a stranger passing by.
- Get out and be social – play with a baby, engage in a conversation, spend alone time with the one you love and always have a good laugh.
- Random Acts of Kindness – Be You, Be True, Be Kind can help burst the surge in Oxytocin.
Naturally Increase Your Serotonin
Serotonin has a magnitude of purposes that manifest within the body, but Serotonin is commonly described as the mood stabilizer. Serotonin is one of the most known neurotransmitters that regulate anxiety, mood, and the fleeting emotions of happiness.
Balanced Serotonin levels in the brain help individuals experience happiness, calmness, focus, and a readiness to take on what tasks are thrown one’s way. If there are low levels of serotonin within someone, depression, anxiety and poor sleep can occur.
Natural ways to boost levels of Serotonin are included below:
- Engage in mindfulness practices- meditation, prayer, grounding techniques.
- Go for a walk- stroll along the beach, at a park, or around your neighborhood appreciating what nature has to offer.
- Soak up the sun – get at least 15 minutes of sunlight, but do not forget to put on that suntan lotion.
- Run, baby, run- kickstart that heart and go out for a run or a brisk walk.
Naturally Increase Your Endorphins
Endorphins is another common neurotransmitter that we have all heard someone at some point say, “got to get those endorphins up”. But what exactly do they mean to get those endorphins up?
Endorphins are described as the pain relief, or as some may sing the Dr. Feel Good chemicals as they promote happiness and easing of pain/discomfort. The most natural and safe way to get that euphoric, safe, and natural high is from these items listed below:
- Let’s get physical – whether you are a runner, are shaking it in a Zumba class or engaging in a High Intensity Interval Training, moving and working in physical activity helps promote that euphoric feeling.
- Abundance of laughter – turn that frown upside down by watching a comedy, engaging in fun conversation and having a good belly laugh.
- Enjoy a snack – researchers say eating dark chocolate and/or spicy foods help naturally increase endorphins.
- Express yourself – get creative through the expressive arts.
Promoting natural ways to boost those happy chemicals in your brain are just a couple examples of coping mechanisms that you can implement throughout your day.
If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, mood, energy levels and expressing your feelings, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Licensed professionals can help you talk through your feelings, find ways to open up the lines of communication and to help compile more tools for your tool box in regard to coping strategies and self-care items.
Jane Dustman is a LCSW who enjoys spending her free time with family and friends, hanging on the beach, practicing yoga and dancing. Jane is dedicated to her practice of social work and enjoys being a full-time therapist at Exceptional Wellness Counseling. EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury, NJ, and accepts a variety of insurances.
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