You don’t need a fancy holiday or a millionaire lifestyle to have a great feelgood factor. You can ‘hack’ the physical and mental processes which make you feel good (healthily and naturally!) for next to nothing! Here’s how:
Boost your serotonin levels
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with circadian rhythms and with mood. It tells us when to wake up, when to sleep, when to eat and so on. It’s also essential for maintaining your feelgood factor – so much so that many antidepressant medications work by tapping into the brain’s serotonin system. You can give your serotonin levels a boost by:
Increasing your exposure to bright, natural light
Part of serotonin’s job is to wake us up at the crack of sparrows’, so it’s released when the bright light of morning filters through your eyelids. The more natural daylight you experience, the higher your serotonin levels will be.
Physical exercise triggers your brain to release a number of ‘feelgood’ chemicals, including serotonin.
Keeping a regular routine
As serotonin works for and in conjunction with your circadian rhythms, maintaining regular eating and sleeping patterns is a brilliant way to keep your serotonin system functioning healthily.
Get an oxytocin hit
Oxytocin is known as ‘The Love Hormone’. It’s what gives us that gooey, melty feeling of happiness when we’re around someone we love. It helps us to create social connections, and its’s key in making sure that mothers bond with their babies. It’s definitely a major feelgood chemical.
You can get an oxytocin hit through:
Oxytocin is released when we feel close to and comforted by others. Physical touch is a quick and easy way to give yourself an oxytocin fix. Hug a friend, get a massage, hold hands with your partner – it all helps!
Stroking your pet
If you’re not the touchy-feely type, fear not! Oxytocin doesn’t need other humans in order to activate. Petting, cuddling, stroking, and generally interacting with beloved pets will do just as good a job. Dogs are the very best at getting our brains to release oxytocin, but any animal which you love can have an effect.
Find your dopamine trigger (but be careful!)
Dopamine is a ‘reward’ chemical. It’s released when we do something the body and brain approve of, and the good feeling it gives us encourages us to repeat that action. Dopamine is released, for example, when we do things that are good for our survival - such as fill our bellies, have sex, have a fulfilling interaction with others and so on.
However, it’s not all fun and games with dopamine. The brain’s reward system is pretty basic, and easy to take advantage of. Dopamine also has a big part to play in the formation of addictions and unhealthy habits. So, be careful!
Find your dopamine trigger by:
Doing things which you enjoy
Seriously, that’s it. But, again, make sure that what you’re doing is healthy and won’t damage your health or life in the long term. Moderation is key when it comes to dopamine!