Most of us have been given very little real information about happiness, never mind the specifics about happy hormones. We reach adulthood and have to figure out what positive mental health is for ourselves. Learning about happy hormones can give us a solid basis to begin understanding how happiness really works but if it's not brought into our daily lives it's likely that this learning will not be impactful.
That's why we've created a beautiful and free Happy Hormones Printable for our newsletter subscribers! Sign up to get your copy at the bottom of this blog post. Keep this colourful poster in your home, where you'll see it daily so it can help you keep your happiness a priority.
Our bodies have 4 main 'happy hormones'. Each one works in a completely different way and each one will affect you for a different amount of time. Most people don't know about the time part but I think its key when it comes to decision making. When you're planning your 'self-care' time, do you want to do something that will give you a 1 minute high? Or increase your contentment for days or weeks?
It's important to get a balance of all your happy hormones if you want to feel stability in your positive moods. 'Daily D.O.S.E' is a simple way to check in with yourself and see if you're doing the things that will get you a good balance!
Dopamine is the reward hormone, it's released when you feel good about something you've done. Triggered by crossing something off your to-do list, eating your favourite foods, practising gratitude or by getting approval from others (think likes, comments and compliments). Dopamine has the shortest lifespan out of all our feel-good hormones, it spikes and falls again in less than a minute. It feels a bit like excitement or a 'buzz'.
Oxytocin is also known as the 'love drug' it's mostly released by positive physical touch, think hugging, kissing and hand holding. It can also be released when we do acts of kindness and by having conversations with people we love and trust, eye contact helps this. Oxytocin is thought to have a positive impact that can last for years! It's generally accepted to last weeks to months at a time. It feels like contentment.
Serotonin helps a lot of our bodily functions like digestion and sleep go smoothly. When we get up and go to sleep at similar times each day and get enough daylight (especially morning light before 10am) this helps to balance serotonin levels. Other ways to balance serotonin is by eating a varied healthy diet with lots of fibre and spending time in nature. Balanced levels help you to feel calmer and have fewer mood swings. Serotonin is thought to last between a few hours and a few days.
Endorphins are our bodies natural pain killer. After exercise we produce endorphins, this can be from walking, playing, dancing or even laughing! It's also produced when we practice mindfulness or meditation. The release of endorphins can feel a bit euphoric, but for most of us just feels like a gentle positive mood lift, or a break from negative mood if you're suffering from depression. The effects of endorphins usually last a few hours.
Now that you know how long each of our happy hormones last and a bit about where you get them from, you can start to see if your daily habits are lacking in terms of producing the balance needed for overall emotional health. Plus, you can see if your usual self-care/recreational activities are producing short term spikes in happiness or adding to your long term contentment.
There is a whole chapter on Happy Hormones in my eBook 'Stop Kicking Happiness Down The Road' where I go into more detail and include more examples of effective activities for boosting each hormone. As well as chapters on Gratitude, Kindness and Connection that all tie into happy hormones and positive mental health.
If you found this blog interesting make sure you grab the free Happy Hormones Printable to help you actually bring your learning into your daily life. Just pop your email address in below and get it instantly.
Here's to more happy moments!
Thanks for reading,