Are you looking for happiness? Or are you hooked on ‘high’? Here’s how to get a DOSE of feel good factor that’ll keep you happy and healthy all day long.
In my last blog I showed you how to boost your Dopamine levels, and today it’s all about Oxtyocin, Serotonin and Endorphins.
Oxytocin, known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ is all about bonding and trust.
It’s why getting those ‘likes’ on Facebook makes us feel better. Even more powerful though is a good quality hug - not a quick backslap hug, but one where you really hold, really connect, and really feel your mood shift. Getting or giving a massage also boosts oxytocin and so does giving someone a gift.
You may have noticed a sense of disconnect when you’re stressed as the higher our cortisol levels, the lower our oxytocin levels. Low oxytocin is also associated with anxiety and depression, and also with holding grudges.
So aside from reducing your stress levels, how else can you boost your oxytocin? When you eat, eat with someone as this builds our social bonds, and eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful. Playing relaxing music, doing yoga or meditating has also been shown to release oxytocin.
In terms of food, you can’t get oxytocin directly but you do need magnesium for oxytocin to function properly. So that means a diet packed with green leafy veg, figs, avocado, banana, raspberry, nuts, seeds and legumes will have us feeling loved and happy. And finish it off with a chunk of dark chocolate to savour and let melt in your mouth. (And I always mean a good quality brand, such as Green & Blacks or Divine and their 85% chocolate).
Serotonin, the ‘confidence hormone’, we now know is 80% produced in our gut, so the right food is vital to boost your wellbeing.
Serotonin aids memory function, promotes good sleep, boosts energy, aids weight loss and lifts your mood. Tryptophan-rich foods provide the amino acid necessary for the body to produce serotonin. It is commonly found in protein foods, so poultry and eggs are a great option. Wild salmon with its omega-3 is great to eat, as well as dark leafy greens, seeds and nuts, and soy products and organic dairy products. Tryptophan also needs carbohydrates to produce serotonin, so eat fruit and veg and whole-grain oats, brown rice and quinoa or legumes like chickpeas alongside them.
For quick fixes, I use spirulina in smoothies and I carry a snack of seeds and nuts to head off the ‘hangry’ - no Snickers in sight!
The reason we feel good in the sunshine is that it boosts our serotonin levels. Thinking happy thoughts, such as gratitudes, and feeling pride in your achievements can also have this effect. Thus having lots of small goals so you can celebrate lots of successes keeps you feeling happy.
Even reflecting on past successes and bathing in that glory will boost your serotonin and your confidence as your brain doesn’t know the difference between now and then. NLP uses resource anchors to create this effect and I trigger mine every morning to set me up for the way I want to spend my day - feeling confident and motivated.
And finally endorphins, the ‘euphoria hormone’ is what we need to power through challenging moments.
Laughter, in particular crying with laughter, boosts your serotonin so a night out at your local comedy club or bingeing on Comedy Central is a perfect antidote to a stressful week. Acupuncture boosts your endorphins as does smelling vanilla and lavender, and regular exercise keeps it in balance.
And again, my favourite, a fabulous chunk of high quality dark chocolate, not only boosts your oxytocin but it boosts your endorphins too. As do spicy foods and chilli peppers - my perfect Friday night in with homemade curry. Who knew!
So create yourself a ‘happy diet’ to feel good and lose weight.