Most people understand that the brain regulates mood, but how exactly does that happen? While scientists continue to explore and learn about how brain function is linked to emotional health, they do know that brain chemicals play a critical role.
Our brain chemicals serve as messengers, sending signals to nerves throughout the brain that impact the way we feel.
Did you know that there are simple ways to boost the release and action of our happy hormones? It’s true — small actions can positively impact mood, energy and state-of-mind all because of feel-good brain chemicals.
How to Hack Happiness Hormones
1. Eat Healthy Foods
Did you know that simply eating nourishing foods can promote the production of your happy hormones, like dopamine? In fact, some foods are called “brain foods” because they help release neurotransmitters.
Some of the best foods for your happy hormones include:
antioxidant fruits and veggies
2. Play With Your Pet
Playing with a pet can certainly boost your brain chemicals, especially oxytocin, which is your “love hormone.” If you have a pet, petting him or her or playing around is actually great for your own mood and well-being.
No pet? That’s what friends and neighbors are for!
3. Hug Someone
Want to boost your oxytocin naturally? Bring it in for the real thing.
Hugs bring on feelings of comfort, togetherness and joy.
Humans benefit from several hugs a day — and make sure they last about 20 seconds or longer. The “extended hug” is really what gets your love hormone going.
4. Take a Walk Outdoors
I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’re reading that walks outside are good for your health. It’s grounding and brings on feelings of peace and relaxation.
It does this by promoting the production of serotonin, which regulates your mood, energy levels and pain perception.
Exercise or any form of physical activity is a great way to boost serotonin levels. This can be running, swimming, cycling, weight lifting, yoga and more.
Moving your body and getting your blood pumping leave you feeling energized and in a better mood.
6. Give Someone a Compliment
Did you know that giving someone a compliment can improve your mood too? Little gestures like this increase the release of oxytocin, making you feel loved, forgiving, protected and secure.
7. Joke Around With Friends
Laughing increases endorphins, the brain chemicals that are associated with pleasure, motivation and social connection. Simply joking around with friends can impact your mood and even help relieve pain.
8. Watch Comedy
If you aren’t in a social setting, you can still boost those endorphins by watching a comedy and LOLing. Any form of laughter is going to boost those brain chemicals and help improve feelings of sadness or isolation.
9. Hold Hands
What better way to increase oxytocin levels than to do a little hand-holding? Holding hands promotes the release of your love hormone and causes feelings of togetherness.
Oxytocin also makes you feel safe and happy, and it helps your body deal with stress properly.
10. Show Kindness
Small acts of kindness can lead to happiness and a sense of peace. That’s because it helps increase the work of brain chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine.
Do something simple, like holding the door for a stranger, getting involved in a fundraiser or even simply smiling at a co-worker.
11. Spend Time in the Sun
Ever wonder why you feel so relaxed after spending time in the sun? It helps increase serotonin, for starters.
Serotonin improves your mood, memory, digestion and wound healing, so don’t miss your daily dose of sunshine if you can help it.
12. Get a Massage
The sense of touch promotes the production of oxytocin and leaves you feeling less stressed, more connected and at peace. Getting a professional massage is a great way to boost your overall wellness, or asking a loved one for a short massage works too!
Massage therapy boosts happy hormones and even raises your immunity.
13. Complete a Task
You know that feeling you get when you complete a task? It’s a feeling of accomplishment, some excitement, a little warmth within.
That’s a boost of dopamine, your reward center saying you’ve done a great job. Whenever you complete a mask, celebrate for a few seconds, and feel your neurotransmitters do their work.
Risks and Side Effects
These are easy and natural ways to boost your happy hormones, or brain chemicals. There are no risks or side effects to taking these small steps to promote a better mood and greater happiness.
If you try these actions but feel like you can’t get out of a slump, seek advice from your health care professional.
Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that send messages from one neuron (or nerve) to another. Millions, if not billions, of messages are sent throughout your brain at any given moment.
The release of brain chemicals, or happy hormones, has a significant impact on your mood, perception, energy, digestion and more.
The happy hormones that you can boost naturally are serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. Simple acts like laughing with friends, holding hands, eating a healthy meal and walking outdoors can help increase the levels of these feel-good hormones.
Stay healthy and blessed