Bettering Yourself

Hormones That Make You Happy: A Scientific Guide to a Better Mood

How’s your happiness lately? Sometimes we forget to check in with ourselves so I wanted to research which specific activities boost the hormones that make you happy. And I don’t think you’ll be disappointed 🙂

What’s a Hormone?

As the medical dictionary states, hormones “act as chemical messengers to body organs, stimulating certain life processes”. They are chemicals that travel through your bloodstream to reach organs and cells for the progression of your body’s “growth, reproduction, control of metabolic processes, sexual attributes, and even mental conditions and personality traits”. These essential features depend on hormones.

Though they can seem like a pain sometimes, hormones are a good thing!

What Are the Happy Hormones?

Endorphins, right? Yes! However, there is more than one (the more the merrier). As described from Healthline, there are four hormones that contribute to feelings of joy. Meet your happy brain chemicals:

  1. Dopamine: a hormone and neurotransmitter that works as part of your reward system. When the teacher compliments you in front of the class, you get a release of dopamine.
  2. Oxytocin: known as the love chemical, it’s good for parent-child bonding (childbirth, breastfeeding), and loving physical contact (kissing, touching, the works).
  3. Serotonin: helps regulate your mood, sleep, appetite, learning ability, and memory. Ever get little sleep and forget things the next day or have a harder time at work? That is a lack of serotonin.
  4. Endorphins: here they are! Not just the workout hormone, but they are useful in response to stress or relieving pain. There isn’t a single best exercise to release endorphins but getting a hard workout in or even a massage is ideal.

Those are the four main hormones that make you happy! Look at the italicized phrases in each for a quick remembrance. Now let’s see what activities bring them out the most.

Activities to Boost Hormones

Finding out how to increase happy brain chemicals is easier than you might think. There are particular activities that cater to the hormones that make you happy.

Breaking a Sweat

I’m talking drops-of-sweat-on-your-face type breaking a sweat. Engaging in hard physical activity (according to your age/ability, of course) releases endorphins to relieve stress, serotonin to sharpen your physical state, and dopamine for that rewarding feeling.

Examples:

  • Cardio – dancing, running, biking, calisthenics
  • HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) – click here for beginners workout
  • Lifting weights
  • Group classes
  • Heavy-duty chores

Mindfulness

It comes in many forms which is why I love mindfulness. I have a meditation guide and a post on how to practice self-love that both fall into this category. Happy hormones in mindfulness activities mostly utilize serotonin, but all four can be applied.

Examples:

  • Yoga Yoga with Adrienne
  • Walking
  • Meditation
  • Reading
  • Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Playing music
  • Finishing a goal

Diet

If you feed a fire with plastic, you’re going to create hazards to yourself and others but if you feed it with firewood and newspaper, you’ll have a beautiful blaze going. Let’s see which foods from msn.com, “healthy” or not, boost serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. All of these foods are meant to be consumed within reason!

Examples:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Spicy foods – keeps the fire high and releases endorphins
  • Red wine
  • Coconut
  • Honey
  • Coffee and tea
  • Fruits – banana, tomato, berries, lemon, oranges
  • Veggies – asparagus, beets, Brussel sprouts (of course they’re on the list…)

Being With Others

Humans have a natural tendency to connect. Even if you’re a shy or independent person, being around loved ones brings out oxytocin, our love chemical, as stated in TIME The Science of Happiness. This is a wonderful hormone to make you happy!

Examples:

  • Laughing with a friend
  • Date night
  • Family get-togethers
  • Volunteering
  • Socializing with strangers
  • Making a new friend
  • Playing with animals

These certain activities keep your hormones in check while giving you that feel-good feeling. If you’re feeling down or in a funk, try to go for a mindful walk or play with an animal – even if the hormone activates for a moment, slowing down and living in it really makes a difference. It all counts!

If you want more on happiness, try 5 Healthy Things to Do Today or Self-Care Morning Routines.

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Claudia Grimm
Writer and nature lover, I'm a curious gal wanting to share what I've learned in personal and environmental growth. What have I realized the most? Small steps make big impacts!

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