Feeling a little down these days? It’s time to think about taking your happiness into your own hands. While we usually think of happiness as a feeling or mood, it’s also connected to natural biological reactions. In fact, your brain is capable of triggering the release of a number of chemicals that make you feel happier. And here’s the really good news—you can get those chemicals flowing whenever you want to.
So, if you’re feeling blue, you don’t have to wait around for things to change. There are simple things you can do every day to increase your brain’s happy chemicals and get some of those good feelings generated. Here are some of the best tips for hacking your own happiness.
Spend Time Outdoors
Serotonin, one of your brain’s happy chemicals, gets a boost when you go outside. Spending time in the sun is key, which makes sense when you think about seasonal affective disorder (SAD). During the winter, you might notice that the shorter days and gloomy weather affects your mood. Part of the reason that happens is due to lack of sunlight which can cause a drop in serotonin levels. When you do get a sunny day, make an effort to get outside, soak up some Vitamin D and enjoy the daylight and fresh air.
Move Your Body
We all know exercise is good for our health, but did you know it’s good for your mood, too? Physical activity helps to boost your endorphins, another one of the brain’s feel-good molecules. There isn’t a specific exercise you have to do in order to get those endorphins flowing. Find what works for you, whether it’s a game of tennis, a brisk walk through your neighborhood, jogging on a track, dancing in your bedroom, or taking a fitness class at the gym. Physical activity has also been shown to relieve stress, help you relax, improve sleep, increase self-confidence, and alleviate some symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The foods you eat can actually impact your happiness levels. Serotonin is derived from tryptophan, an essential amino acid most commonly associated with that pleasant, sleepy feeling we get after Thanksgiving dinner. But turkey isn’t the only food that includes this serotonin-boosting substance. You can also get more tryptophan in your diet by eating foods like eggs, spinach, seeds, nuts, salmon, and soy products like tofu. If you’re someone with a sweet tooth, you’ll also appreciate that eating chocolate can also help to trigger a release of endorphins—yum!
Schedule a Massage
If you really want to trigger your brain’s pleasure center, try a relaxing massage. Research has found that massage therapy can boost serotonin and dopamine (another happy chemical) to a significant degree. In fact, one review found that massage leads to an average increase of 28% for serotonin and 31% for dopamine. While a professional massage is ideal, you can also ask a loved one to give you a back rub or hand massage (check out tutorials online to learn a few tips for better results).
Put on Your Favorite Song
Another way to boost your mood is to listen to music. Research discovered that dopamine levels increase by up to 9% when people listen to music they enjoy. The highest responses were found when listening to music that gave study participants “chills,” so seeking out that little shiver down your spine during a great song may be well worth the effort.
What to Do If You’re Still Feeling Down
Maybe you’ve tried all these tips to get your brain’s happy chemicals flowing, but they haven't seemed to work. If that’s the case, there may be something more serious causing you to feel down. Depression can be linked to chemical imbalances in the brain, which can make it more difficult to experience joy or find pleasure in things you once loved..
Rather than getting frustrated with trying to elevate your mood on your own, take this as a sign that it may be time to reach out for help. Talk to your doctor about your feelings and the possibility of clinical depression. There are many great treatments available today, and you may be able to find relief sooner than you think. For example, people who receive Ketamine Infusion Therapy for depression often start feeling better within a matter of weeks or even days.
Try these ideas to see if you can elevate your mood and boost your happiness. If you’re still struggling, don’t hesitate to learn more about Ketamine Therapy by contacting Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles to schedule a free phone consultation.