Updated: Oct 20, 2020
So we are mostly made of chemical reactions. Our body is highly responsive to our chemical triggers and reactions, from digestion to hormones and love itself.
We are wired to avoid pain and move towards pleasure. We seek acceptance and validation for the safety and security of belonging. We follow these feelings because they release a substances in the nerve fibers that make us feel good.
These substance are Seratonin, Dopamine, Endorphines, and Oxytocin.
Most of the blog posts I write about are geared towards initiating the response of some of these substances! With more understanding of how we can affect our bodies and minds, the more control we feel we have to create change and maintain that change to live a happier life in a deeper sense of balance.
Sometimes in the darker quiet seasons we can even experience seasonal affective disorder, and I recommend tanning, talk to the reception about what type of tanning works for you and your skin type and go with low UV, which can be a huge mood lifter and make you feel relaxed, but if your skin is sensitive, there are lots of light therapy lamps on the market that are designed towards allowing light to uplift your mood and help with the happy chemicals.
People with depression are often diagnosed with low levels of serotonin, and you can supplement and/or do things to increase this chemical and others in your body and nervous system.
So you can't get serotonin directly from food, but you can get tryptophan which is an amino acid that's converted to serotonin in your brain.
The supplement I use is 5htp, 5 hydroxy tryptophan I take one in the morning with breakfast and one before bed for a good amount continuously throughout the day.
As I previously mentioned light therapy can trigger the tryptophan which is the precursor to serotonin, and exercise and sunlight (or light therapy lamps) is also a great way to feel good.
"Humans are social animals, and being around others is what causes happiness for many of us. There’s a scientific reason for that: Serotonin is more free-flowing when you feel important or valued by those around you. When you’re experiencing serotonin happiness, it takes no effort to feel joyful – it just seems to happen naturally. " -Tony Robbins
And lastly, I must mention that a good way to get your serotonin levels increased is through massage therapy. Massage helps to increase both neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, while decreasing cortisol (the stress chemical). Serotonin is associated with a deep sense of calm, inner peace, confidence and feeling grounded. Human connection, touch and relaxation therapy can help with that sense and trigger a serotonin release.
Dopamine, how can we increase this neurotransmitter naturally? Well dopamine is very well known as the "reward chemical". The rush of happiness you feel when you get things done and achieve goals. Dopamine is partly responsible for the addiction to video gaming, because it's not just big goals we get rushes from succeeding at, it's little goals as well, and the excitement and pleasure from these small achievments, especially with the bells and whistles of gaming, levelling up and competition with friends, coming out on top and building a great character. All these trigger a positive feedback loop for wanting more, moving towards pleasure and avoiding, well, anything else.
Dopamine feels invigorating and exciting, we can also get it from food, and these neurotransmitters that release with food can be another form of addiction. I'll write another post on that, it's a great topic to explore.
Best way to maintain a great level of dopamine is through a good amount of sleep, allowing yourself to get to a rem state and rest, or any form of sufficient rest, such as floating.
"During your float, your body is placed in ideal conditions for relaxation and healing to occur. Those who are addicted to a substance due to the Dopamine rush it provides can benefit from floating as it heals the body and neurotransmitters by replenishing the supply of endorphins and dopamine in the body."
So, Endorphins are a neurotransmitter that has actually been compared to opiates due to the intense amount of pleasure they release. The overwhelming sense of ecstasy you feel after a hard run. They are the feel good high after eating chocolate! Chocolate also contains phenethylamine, an organic compound that gives your body an endorphin boost, and theobromine, a chemical that suppresses pain so you can feel more pleasure, according to some studies! I would have to say after that statement that you should always opt for sugar free, organic, fair trade, raw chocolate for this supplement. Eating sugar and processed or refined foods is never ever good for you.
Endorphins are released when we laugh! When we exercise, create music and get acupuncture!
Fun fact for the lovers of aromatherapy out there (who wouldn't love essential oils!!) but smelling lavender has been proven in placebo studies to reduce anxiety and release a whole mix of neurotransmitters, including, endorphins!
Dopamine is often called the motivation molecule, and the chemical of love. It is released when we fall in love and during anything we do that is pleasurable and that gives us satisfaction. It is behind most of our human relationships and is the key force behind our human-ness and interpersonal skills.
Dopamine means, love, lust, infidelity, motivation, attention, learning and addiction. Dopamine is related to anticipatory pleasure. When we experience pleasure dopamine is released and thus we continue to look for this over and over again. It affects memory, your learning process and how you even retain information.
Dopamine allows us to keep focused and pay attention, when levels are low it can lead to attention deficient disorder.
There are also foods rich in Tyrosine, like bananas, almonds, avocados, chicken and fish.
Get a massage. It has long been suggested that one way to keep dopamine levels high is to avoid stress, which is nearly impossible in this day and age. To counter the effects of stress, research has demonstrated that massage therapy increases dopamine levels by nearly 30% while decreasing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels. - (brain md)
In conclusion there are simple basic ways to keep your happy chemicals up there and available to you in to live a happy healthy life.
Meditate, Rest, Massage, Float
Eat clean simple foods, mostly eat veggies, fruits, and natural foods that don't come in a package, keep a good balance and an awareness of food as a medicine not an addiction.
Laugh more, Surround yourself with like minded people that make you feel good