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Our happiness or the mental and emotional state of being happy is controlled by the hormones in our body. Every one of us cannot feel energetic and happy 24/7. There are days when you may not be feeling your best, days when you wouldn't want to do anything else but keep to yourself and away from people.
However, it is not necessary that you become enslaved to the gloominess. That is, there are habits and activities you can take up to get yourself out of the funk. Before getting to that part, let us be familiar with the 'happy hormones' in your brain.
What Are Happy Hormones?
Happy hormones are the ones present in your brain and responsible for your happiness. Apart from the hormones, neurotransmitters too play a significant role in moderating your feelings and overall well-being. And they are dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, oestrogen and progesterone  .
A neurotransmitter, dopamine is used by the nerves to send messages. When the dopamine levels in your brain are low, it can cause a hindrance in the proper transmission of messages which in turn has a direct impact on one's mood, behaviour, learning, attention, cognition, movement, and sleep  .
Dopamine directs your brain's reward system. That is if you are complimented or appreciated by someone, the dopamine levels in your brain increases - resulting in feelings of well-being.
A mood-boosting neurotransmitter, the creation of happiness by serotonin can easily be understood from its use in SSRI antidepressants  . When you feel satisfied, recognised or accomplished, the serotonin levels in your brain will be high. A lack of serotonin can make you feel lonely and unhappy  .
It helps in the form of serotonin and protects you from anxiety, irritability and help maintain a good mood. Various factors such as menopause, smoking habit, extreme exercise routines can all cause oestrogen levels to drop drastically  .
Dubbed the love hormone, oxytocin is responsible for the creation of trust and intimacy and builds healthy relationships between people  . It is both a neurotransmitter and a happy hormone and as suggested by studies, plays a significant role in women's physiology and happiness compared to men's.
This hormone is responsible for preventing anxiety, irritability and mood swings - similar to that of oestrogen. Progesterone promotes good sleep and the levels of the hormone drop low in premenopausal women, which can be accelerated by factors such as excess stress and unhealthy food habits  .
Natural Ways To Boost Your Happy Hormones
You do not have to succumb to your cloudy mood as there are ways through which you can help yourself get back on feet and meet the day energetically and happily.
The first and most effective means to get yourself up and out and boost your happy hormones is by exercising. Supported by studies, the 20 to 30 minutes of exercise every day can helpin drastically improving your overall mood because exercise can help regulate your sleep, maintain a healthy heart and get rid off negative thoughts  .
Exercising helps in the production and increment in the levels of endorphins and serotonin which help improve our moods and energy levels. So, if you are feeling low, you know what to do - grab a coat and go for a walk or dance your heart out!
2. Eat dark chocolate
Yes, you read that right and now you have scientific proof to gorge on your favourite chocolate without any guilt. Dark chocolate with at least 50 per cent can help boost your endorphin levels and serotonin levels, which has a direct impact on your moods, as it helps in bettering the function of your happy hormones  .
3. Eat (good) carbs
That is one more addition to the list. According to studies, carbohydrate-rich foods are beneficial in increasing our serotonin levels, thereby improving the mood and increasing the happy hormones  . Chose the healthy carbohydrates, that is, ones that are low GI, organic and nutritious, such as muffins, brown rice etc.
One of the best ways to boost your happy hormones is by practising meditation. The impact it has on your mental health is huge as it triggers the hypothalamus and hence stimulates the release of endorphins by the pituitary gland  .
Practice meditation every day for at least 10 minutes and while meditating, focus on your breath to help relax your mind and boost the happy hormones.
5. Pet a dog or cat
We are all aware that these furballs of love can help us get out of the funk, and science agrees. Studies have shown that petting your best friend for even just 15 minutes can trigger the release of the happy hormones such as serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, and also reduces the stress hormone cortisol  .
6. Get out in the sun
Vitamin D is necessary for the production of brain chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine and acetylcholine. The bright light from the sun rays helps in boosting the levels of serotonin - your happy hormone  .
Spend some time (10-15) minutes in the sunshine, and if you can do it daily, do not stop yourself.
7. Eat B vitamins
Symptoms of vitamin B deficiency include irritability, short attention spans and short term memory loss. Thereby, it is increasingly critical that you give your body a good supply of B vitamin which is important for the production of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine  .
You can get vitamin B from brown rice, legumes, wholegrain and meat, and also from kale, spinach, broccoli and rocket.
Some of the other ways that help in boosting your happy hormones are  :
- Hug someone,
- make time with your friends,
- finish up a pending work,
- try aromatherapy,
- laugh often,
- eat spicy food, and
- try to stay calm by taking up calming hobbies such as reading or knitting.
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