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How to increase your 'happy hormones'

What brain chemicals do for your mental wellbeing & how to promote the release of the good stuff!

Feeling low? Sometimes it’s perfectly normal to suffer from a low mood, but whether it’s just a case of the Monday blues, or more prolonged symptoms of depression, there are many ways that we can all stimulate the release of those mood-boosting chemicals.

To begin with it’s worth understanding what triggers each of these 5 chemicals or ‘happy hormones’

Dopamine – Reach the summit!

Dopamine release is triggered when we are set on reaching a target or approaching a significant achievement. Acting as a motivator, dopamine creates a sensation of pleasure when we are goal-focussed. You may recognise this if you respond to hardship or challenges by planning or working out solutions to a problem. Sometimes setting an objective feels like a relief – and that’s dopamine at work!

How can I get some more of that? Try learning a new skill, cooking a new recipe, completing a suduko puzzle or exploring somewhere new.

Serotonin – Self belief

A rush of serotonin is much more easily recognised as they boost you feel when you know your ideas and opinions have been heard. When we feel self-assured, respected and emotionally strong it is likely that we have been strengthened by self-confidence which is directly linked to serotonin release.

How can I get some more of that? Believing in yourself and rating your own importance as highly as you do others is a good start! Focus on building your own resilience first.

OxytocinA trusty friend

The release of oxytocin has long been associated with trusting relationships, playing a significant role in social bonding. When we consciously build trust and allow bonds to form, we trigger the release of oxytocin increasing our feelings of overall satisfaction with life.

How can I get some more of that? Enjoy the trust that already exists within your life, each relationship that exists has been built on trust over time. Trust can only exist when expectations are consistently met between two parties. If you are keen to build on trust, start with agreeing on small expectations that you can both reasonably meet.

EndorphinsThe highs and lows

The endeavours of exercise, even pushing through those physical pain barriers are possibly the best-known triggers for feeling good! When we exercise, we are promoting a quick-fire release of endorphins, which relieve pain and increase pleasure, but it’s not the only way to get a boost. Getting the giggles or enjoying your favourite nutritious flavour filled foods also increase your sense of wellbeing.

How can I get some more of that? It’s been reported that dark chocolate and spicy foods can release endorphins. If exercise works for you, try varying your routine to stimulate your endorphin release.

One last thing...

It's worth remembering our world has been disrupted for some time now, and it can take a while to get back to familiar routines or to take on new challenges as we start to emerge from lockdown. Don’t compare yourself to others, try to follow your usual routines as closely as possible if that suits you. Don’t forget to make time to relax too!

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How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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