What is holding you back from everything you want to be and do? Chances are the same thing that holds all of us back – fear. In this episode, Jen explains that fear has the same physical response in our body as excitement; the only difference is the way we think about it and breathe through it.
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Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphin — are your “happy hormones”. They are also called your “success hormones” because apart from a happy mood, they make you feel optimistic, energetic, connected with others and give you higher focus. As a result, they elevate your drive, leadership and confidence in life.
So, let’s explore them each in more detail.
Dopamine is your achievement hormone.
The higher the dopamine levels are in your body, the higher your alertness, focus, creativity, long-term memory, and concentration is. Dopamine is the motivation molecule that drives you to seek rewards in achieving goals, and it helps you to strive to be successful.
Cocaine blocks dopamine being released, and that is what gives that euphoria. The secret with dopamine is to trigger it with achievement and success instead of drugs. Set goals with baby steps feed the “yeah I’m achieving” fix. Break down to weekly tasks to tick off and achieve.
Oxytocin is your attachment molecule.
Trigger it to increase loyalty, trust, empathy and generosity. Apart from inter-personal bonding, oxytocin reduces stress levels and boosts security and contentment.
To increase your oxytocin, take out time to help, encourage, mentor or compliment people. A single minute of positive catch up with friends is enough to trigger a short burst of oxytocin. It is important to share laughs with mates to trigger oxytocin.
Endorphin is your determination and bliss hormone.
It lifts mood and reduces physical pain and emotional stress. It increases your mental focus too. Laugh often to trigger an instant endorphin release.
Seratonin is your hormone of satisfaction.
It stabilises your mood and gives you feelings of well-being and happiness. This hormone impacts your entire body. Serotonin also helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion.
Serotonin is also your leadership hormone. It boosts will power, self-esteem, inner satisfaction, confidence and a sense of purpose. It simultaneously it battles cortisol or your stress hormone.
To boost serotonin, get out in the natural sunlight during your lunch break or choose to walk outside while taking a call. Even “Thank you” boosts your serotonin.
How do you know you have low serotonin?
If you have low serotonin, you might:
- Feel anxious, low, or depressed
- Feel irritable or aggressive
- Have sleep issues or feel fatigued
- Feel impulsive
- Have a decreased appetite
- Experience nausea and digestive issues
- Crave sweets and carbohydrate-rich foods
How do you increase your serotonin?
You can’t directly get serotonin from food, but you can get tryptophan, an amino acid that’s converted to serotonin in your brain. Tryptophan is found primarily in high-protein foods, including turkey and salmon.
BUT just eating tryptophan-rich foods, does not work.
You have a blood-brain barrier. A protective sheath around your brain that controls what goes in and out of your brain. Bottom line, tryptophan-rich foods are usually even higher in other amino acids. Because they’re more abundant, these other amino acids are more likely than tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier.
But there may be a way to hack the system. Research suggests that eating carbs along with foods high in tryptophan may help more tryptophan make it into your brain.
Snacking for serotonin
Here are some snack ideas to get you started:
- Whole-wheat bread with turkey or cheese
- Oatmeal with a handful of nuts
- Salmon with brown rice
- Plums or pineapple with your favourite crackers
- Revisit episode 28 to find out why low carb diets like the keto diet make people down.
Exercise triggers the release of tryptophan into your blood. It can also decrease the amount of other amino acids. Perfect for tryptophan to reach your brain.
Treat yourself to a weekly exercise routine. Choose a team sport, running, cycling, swimming, dancing, yoga or any other that catches your fancy. Incorporate it into your lifestyle to benefit from endorphins and dopamine while reducing your stress hormone cortisol. If that is not possible, choose to walk some of the distance while returning home from work.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Serotonin tends to be lower after winter and higher in summer. Supplements can have mixed results. It’s better to get the body working.
Here are some tips to help:
- Revisit episode 18 to learn more about gut chemistry and the importance of enzymes
- Breathe in through the nose for four seconds and breathe out for eight seconds
- Eat dark chocolate to trigger dopamine and serotonin.
- Eat chilli as it releases endorphins while caffeine gives you a dopamine rush
- Tryptophan found in carbohydrates improves serotonin and sugar gives a dopamine high
Change your foods to change your mood.
Healthy Life Hacks
So, the healthy life hacks I want to leave you with today are:
- Move your body with someone else.
- Play with your foods, implement some of the tips above.
- Play with others, give compliments and be a good human being.
- Enjoy the sunshine away from 10am-2pm, I surf at sunrise.
Helpful links from this episode:
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