Our mind have those spaces which are driven by the so-called “positive hormones”. What are those feel-good hormones which activate the soothing moods within us? Dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter and hormone. It plays a role in many important body functions, including movement, memory and pleasurable reward and motivation.
Serotonin is a chemical that carries messages between nerve cells in the brain and throughout your body. Serotonin plays a key role in such body functions as mood, sleep, digestion, nausea, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting and sexual desire.
Endorphins are chemicals (hormones) your body releases when it feels pain or stress. They’re released during pleasurable activities such as exercise, massage, eating and sex too. Endorphins help relieve pain, reduce stress and improve the sense of well-being.
Endorphin comes from the words “endogenous,” which means within the body, and “morphine,” an opiate pain reliever. Put together, that means endorphins are natural pain relievers. They are “feel-good” chemicals because they can make you feel better and put you in a positive state of mind.
Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that is produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream. It is often referred to as the “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical” because it is released during physical intimacy, such as hugging, kissing or sometimes even by relating to someone in love. All these four hormones make us soothe ourselves. There are ways in which we can all activate these hormones or make them more prominent. Some of the ways are the following;
Exercise regularly: Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your mood and increase levels of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
Spend time in nature: Getting exposure to sunlight and spending time in nature can also help to boost serotonin levels. Try to get outside for at least 30 minutes a day, even if it’s just for a walk around the block.
Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to support overall health and well-being, including brain health. Some specific foods that are known to boost mood and cognitive function include:
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve mood and cognitive function. These can be found in Chia seeds, Walnuts and flaxseeds.
Folate: Leafy green vegetables, fruits, such as citrus fruits and bananas, and legumes are good sources of folate. Folate is important for brain health and has been shown to improve mood and cognitive function.
Get enough sleep: When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s production of hormones can be disrupted. This can lead to mood swings, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Connect with others: Spending time with loved ones and building strong social connections can also help to boost mood and reduce stress. Make time for activities that you enjoy and that allow you to connect with others.
Practice gratitude: Taking the time to appreciate the things in your life, big or small, can help to boost your mood and increase levels of serotonin. Try keeping a gratitude journal or simply taking a few minutes each day to reflect on the things that you are grateful for.
In addition to the above tips, there are a few other things you can do to activate the positive hormones of the brain, such as:
Listen to music: Listening to music that you enjoy can release dopamine and endorphins.
Meditate: Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and increase levels of serotonin.
Read poetry/light romance: People who read poetry or fiction are able to activate the soothing spaces of the mind, leading to higher activation of positive hormones.
Get a massage: Massage can release endorphins and oxytocin, which are both hormones that promote feelings of well-being.
Spend time with pets: Spending time with pets can reduce stress and increase levels of oxytocin.
These are some of the strategies to activate the soothing spaces of the mind. Spending time with people we care about is one of the best ways to do it, along with a bit of exercise, music and meditation. Eventually, activation of these soothing spaces in our mind make us happier, healthy, resilient and calm.