When it comes to hormones and their effect on our mood swing, no introduction is needed here. We feel it, we live it, we talk and even joke about it just to lighten up a sudden reaction to an event and excuse ourselves for an unpredictable behaviour. Though with time this unpredictability becomes very much predictable as it seems a well-timed cycle that keeps repeating itself over and over again.
What we need to understand here is, aside from the natural physical cycle, including the woman’s monthly cycle of menstruation and the daily man’s cycle of testosterone, the outside world and our daily life and routine plays a major factor in influencing the brain, to either create a bigger imbalance in our hormones or produce more of what we call “Happy Hormones.”
What are the Hormones of Happiness?
Serotonin, Dopamine, Endorphins and Oxytocin. These four neurotransmitters are well known as “Happy Hormones”. They are essential to your body and have direct involvement with your heart rate and so, they influence the coherent emotional state between the heart and what you feel, and the mind and how you perceive things in life. They are also involved with your digestive system.
Happy Hormones promote positive feelings inside your emotional system and influences your decision making, how you feel about yourself and others, and how you respond to any situation that you come across in your daily life, whether at home or at work.
Serotonin is found in the brain, bowls and blood platelets.
Positives: It is a mood stabilizer and it contributes to your overall wellbeing and happiness.
Negatives: Low levels of serotonin in the brain may cause depression, aggression anxiety, decreased appetite, digestive problems, fatigue and sleep trouble.
· Daily exercise and movement
· Bright Light (Sun or artificial)
· Happy memories
· Food that includes Tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that gets converted to serotonin in your brain, such as salmon, turkey, pineapple and nuts. To get the most out of it, it is best if mixed with some carbs like oatmeal and brown rice.
Dopamine is found in the brain, it links with other chemicals such as serotonin and adrenaline. It influences your mood and feelings of reward and motivation. It is also related to many body functions such as; Blood flow, digestion, kidneys, memory, pain processing…etc.
Positives: Focus, motivation, determination, decision making, sense of achievement and accomplishment, feeling good about yourself, pride, happiness.
Negatives: Low level of Dopamine may cause poor coordination, difficulties in movements, pessimism, low ambition and planning, lack of focus, confusion, depression and Parkinson’s disease in some extreme cases.
· Activities with reward system
· Tidying-up and organising
· Regular and quality sleep
· Food with high proteins and amino acids that includes Tyrosine. Such as: vegetables, eggs, dairy products, soy, turkey & beef. Reduce saturated food
· Velvet beans (natural sources of L-dopa)
Oxytocin is found in the hypothalamus and released by the posterior pituitary. It is often called the "Love hormone", it plays a major role for reproduction in women and has its influence on organs such as the breasts and the uterus. It’s about bonding, trust, empathy and sex
Positives: It helps with Social phobias, reduces stress, creates trust and safety & a very helpful hormone for autism.
Negatives: Low level of Oxytocin can cause fear, anxiety, social disfunction, low self-love and low self-esteem, depression and autism in some cases.
· Romance (love and being loved)
· Hugging & Cuddling
· Social engagement
· Pets and petting
· Service to others
· Massage (give or receive)
· Food containing Vitamin D, C, magnesium, dietary fats, mushrooms, peppers, spinach, fatty fish, avocados, watermelon, figs, almonds, pumpkin seeds, green tea.
Endorphins are found in central nervous system and the pituitary gland. It is called the “Feel Good” hormone and it helps you cope with pain and stress. It is released mostly during injuries and stressful situations, excessive physical exercises.
Positives: Reduce and tolerates pain, resilience, improves physical wellness & self-esteem, better mood, better sleep, feeling of bliss.
Negatives: Low level of Endorphins can cause depression, anxiety, bad mood, fibromyalgia, chronic headaches.
· Engage emotionally in a movie
· Group exercise
· Music (performing)
· Hot bath
· Essential oils (lavender)
· Kindness (giving)
· Food that can help: Cacao, strawberries, grapes, orange, spices, vanilla, nuts, seeds, ginseng.
In conclusion you can see clearly some common activities and habits that have a direct impact on all four hormones of happiness such as; Exercise, sunlight, music, massage…etc. Being engaged with others, surrounding yourself with the right people and doing what you love while being conscious and aware of the antidotes (mainly stress), and trying to reverse any hormonal imbalance by generating “happy” and “feel good” factor inside your brain.
Food is another source for all these happy hormones, though its effect can vary from one person to another. Whatever you eat, eat it with pleasure, without guilt and worries, and it’s a must that it tastes delicious to you. For example. Eating spicy food to raise the Endorphins, while your mouth is burning hot and you’re not enjoying the process, will not do you any good. On the opposite, it will release more Endorphins from your system in order to tolerate the pain, than producing any “feel good” factor. Exercising is good and recharging, over exercising is depleting, will stiffen the muscles to its maximum capacity and disturbs the flow. Meditating is relaxation and anti-stress factor, over meditating is social isolation, self-centring with less engagement, less pleasures, and less physical movements.
Any activity that you decide to do in order to boosts your hormones, do it with BALANCE.
Worth mentioning that when I was researching hormonal imbalance some time ago I stumbled into a very insightful article that talked about “Woman cycle vs man Cycle”. Yes, apparently men too, have their own hormonal cycle that they go through every 24 hours and it can affect their mood throughout the day.
Check it out here.