Alrighty guys. It’s that time of the year when everyone is trying to squeeze out every ounce of summer. Days are becoming darker, and it’s just about time for the real darkness to arrive (especially if you live up here in the north). If you weren’t looking for a relationship before, you’re definitely looking to lock someone down, as cuffing season is upon us. The shift from summer to fall can be hectic, especially for our mood. Feeling sad? Anxious? A bit blue maybe? In this post, we’ll learn about how to hack your mood to become your best self as we enter the darker half of the year.
Our mood is a tricky thing. It can go up and down for the most random of reasons and sometimes it can feel like our mood is in control of us, not the other way around. When we talk about mood we need to understand that it’s our sweet hormones who are living it up and cause us to feel all range of emotions. Hormones are essentially the messengers of the body. Some of them tell us to feel hunger, some tell us to feel full, and some of them – the happy hormones tell us to feel happy.
The crowned king of “happy hormones”. Serotonin is literally called the happy hormone and plays a role in regulating our sleep, appetite, and digestion. Fun fact, 90% of our serotonin production takes place in the gut. When we have a good balance of serotonin bouncing around we feel happier, less anxious, calmer, and more focused.
Natural ways to improve serotonin is to:
- Exercise. When we exercise our serotonin levels go loco due to the BDNF activity in the brain. This activity creates a protein that makes us feel pretty sweet and saucy inside.
- Get more sunlight. That the sun makes us happier isn’t really news, and it’s wise to try to catch some rays whenever the sun wants to play.
- Eat foods high in tryptophan. Trypto- what now? Tryptophan is an amino acid that produces serotonin. With low, or no tryptophans we can’t fully make serotonin which is why it’s important to eat this bad boy every day, since our body can’t make tryptophan by itself. Foods with high amounts of tryptophans are eggs, poultry, spinach, salmon, seeds, and nuts.
Ever felt low? Lacking motivation? And just not excited for things? Dopamine, and more specifically the lack of it might be the blame. When we get a rush of dopamine we feel pleasure and reward, which is why we continue to indulge in behaviors that produce dopamine. This can obviously be either good or bad habits depending on what we are doing.
We want to increase dopamine naturally, and here are some ways to make that happen:
- Exercise. Yes, once again exercise tops the charts for producing feel-good hormones. Dopamine is not the exception.
- Complete tasks. You know that rush of accomplishment you feel when you complete a task or project? That’s dopamine. To stick something out and actually finish it is a great way to not only increase dopamine but to build good habits of showing up for yourself.
- Listen to some bangers. Music can have this beautiful effect on us where we get a sudden rush of joy when that beat hits. What happens is a sweet release of dopamine.
- Healthy diet. Diet does play a big role in dopamine production and especially getting enough protein and amino acids in the form of tyrosine which can be found in protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs, fish, and chicken. Taking care of your gut by giving it plenty of probiotic foods such as yogurt and fermented food is also a good way to keep dopamine production high.
- Sleep. Can’t escape sleep. We need it for plenty of things and dopamine is one of them.
Love is in the air! But not if you’re lacking oxytocin. This hormone is known as the “love hormone” released when we experience belonging, touch, and yea love in general. Oxytocin is especially important for reproductive health and plays a role in childbirth. It’s s also responsible for the feeling of attachment between a mother and child during breastfeeding. Females tend to have a higher level of oxytocin and a reason why we easier form attachments to partners, children, or even pets.
- Sex. It ain’t called the love hormone for no reason and sex is a sure way to boost those oxytocin levels.
- Help others. To do acts of kindness makes our oxytocin levels go through the roof. There is indeed no selfless deed because even helping others will make you feel good.
- Pet an animal. If you don’t have a partner to cuddle up with your furry friend will do just fine. Petting a dog, having a purring cat in your lap, or looking at an adorable bunny eating a carrot will all boost your oxytocin.
- Good food. Foodgasms are a thing and they also increase oxytocin. Even better if you cook and eat together with someone you care about.
Last, but definitely not least we have endorphins, the hormone responsible to decrease pain and discomfort and make us superhuman for a while. You know that feeling of hyper-focus you get in a stressful situation? Or how you’re able to get up and walk after spraining your ankle? It’s all thanks to endorphins. You don’t need to be Edward Cullen to put a dent in cars, you just need a shit load of endorphins.
Endorphins also give us a lot of pleasure and you could call it the body’s own morphine, which is why we want to make sure to increase it as often as possible in natural ways.
- Exercise. We can’t escape exercise. It’s simple just good for us on so many levels!
- Laugh. When I say laugh, I mean laugh. Like from the bottom of your stomach, so much that it hurts! Laugh loud and often.
- Dark chocolate and spicy food. Like we need another reason to indulge in some chocolate? Sign me up! Both chocolate and spicy food have a positive effect on our endorphins.
Happy hormones. They might have different names and act in slightly different ways, but the take-home is that they all act to serve the same purpose, and can be attained in similar ways. As the fall and darkness are approaching we should be mindful about getting daily sunlight, exercise, healthy food, and social interactions to feel like awesome sauce. To be honest, this should be a mantra all year round!