Did you know this Sunday is National Hugging Day? And did you know that hugging is not only good for your health, but increases your sense of wellbeing? Hugging simulates production of fuzzy warm hormone oxytocin, is a great stress reliever and obviously a good way to bond. So wrap your arms around someone – many people! – on Sunday. And then make it a habit.
Have you ever wondered why some days you wake up feeling ready to take on the world and other days you are fit for nothing?
But what about other ways to feel good? Have you ever wondered why some days you wake up feeling ready to take on the world and other days you are fit for nothing more than curling up on the sofa with a comforting book and an endless supply of chocolate?
External factors aside, whether you are feeling optimistic and happy or bleak and overwrought can be largely dependent on the balance of positive and negative neurochemicals in your brain.
Think of it like a seesaw which can go up and down depending on the (emotional) weight distributed on each side. The key is in balancing these chemicals and knowing how to elevate the ‘feel good’ ones when you need to.
With the following nine simple steps you can boost the happy chemicals in your brain and in turn unlock your full potential, achieve your goals and improve your overall happiness and general wellbeing.
- Increase physical contact
The simple act of touching another person whether that be with a quick hug, a walk around the shops holding hands, or a loving sexual experience can stimulate that oxytocin we mentioned, which is commonly known as the ‘love hormone.’ This feel good neurochemical revolves around the act of trust and is the key to building and maintaining healthy relationships. Being comfortable with your sense of touch can improve your social interactions resulting in positive bonding experiences with those around you.
Laughter really is the best medicine
“Laughter really is the best medicine” and a full on belly laugh that comes right from the bottom of your stomach is the way to go. Laughing releases the neurochemical endorphin which is known as the ‘counter chemical’ as it helps to balance your stress levels, boost your mood and reduce anxiety.
- Have a good cry
As long as you do not allow yourself to wallow in negativity on a daily basis, having a good cry once in a while is the perfect way to let go of any deep rooted negative feelings. When we cry the ‘bad feeling’ chemical cortisol is expelled from the body leaving us feeling refreshed and ready to take on new challenges. Crying also releases leucine enkephalin which can help reduce any pain in the body.
- Indulge in a massage
Skin to skin contact also stimulates the chemical oxytocin, which is a natural antidepressant and produces feelings of happiness and positivity. A couple’s massage is the perfect way to evoke positive feelings together, or you could book a treatment, treat yourself. Alternatively if you prefer a solo activity, simply taking a bit longer to massage your face when applying moisturiser will have a similar effect.
- Set achievable daily goals
Dopamine is known as the ‘motivational’ chemical and is responsible for feelings of pleasure. Regular injections of this chemical can be achieved by breaking down your goals into step by step manageable objectives. This way your body will reward itself with each small achievement with a dose of dopamine, ensuring you continue to stay motivated and on the pathway to success.
- Look after your basic needs
The simple task of ensuring you get sufficient sleep and regular exercise can help regulate the levels of dopamine in your brain leaving you feeling motivated for the day ahead.
Try and find a physical activity that you enjoy as this will result in the release of endorphins which will instantly boost you mood and reduce any feelings of stress you may have.
- Take time for reflection
Serotonin is the ‘confidence’ chemical that controls how we feel from one minute to the next. High levels of serotonin result in feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. Whereas low levels are associated with loneliness and low mood. A quick and easy way to boost your serotonin levels is to reflect on your past achievements and successes.
- Boost your Vitamin D intake
Increased levels of vitamin D in your body can also boost your serotonin levels and can be achieved by simply getting more sunshine. Taking a daily leisurely walk or even having a snooze in your garden for 20 minutes can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on whatever the day has to offer.
- Be kind
Carrying out a selfless act such as texting a friend and telling them how much you value their friendship can boost your mood by releasing serotonin. Not to mention the fact that it will also elevate the mood of your friend and help strength your friendship bonds.
By carrying out these small steps on a daily basis and being mindful of how the chemicals in your brain can be affected by your actions, you can lead a more positive and optimistic life, making you and those around you happier and more fulfilled.
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