What’s in a D.O.S.E. of Happiness?

Happiness is emotional and physical. Knowing how to hack into the happiness zone may save relationships and your sanity! Knowing how to encourage your body to release these four powerful neurochemicals is key. For easy memory retrieval, use the acronym (DOSE) Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, & Endorphins.

Dopamine motivates you and gives you that boost of pleasure when goals are met. When your body is lacking in dopamine, you tend to procrastinate more and lack enthusiasm about life in general. Self-doubt kicks in and your confidence levels bottom out.

The best way to keep a steady flow of dopamine in your bloodstream is to set daily mini-goals and celebrate each accomplishment. Just a “woohoo” is not celebrating; do something fun; splurge. It may be as small as eating your favorite candy bar or as significant as planning a vacation.

Either way, what goes up, must come down. Ouch, sorry for the downer. However, you can avoid these dopamine hangovers by creating new goals before achieving existing goals.

Oxytocin is released by the posterior pituitary gland (located behind your nose near the underside of your brain) when the hypothalamus, which controls the body’s emotional responses, is excited. Oxytocin encourages a feeling of intimacy, trust, and fidelity. No wonder it is referred to as the “relationship” hormone.

­Serotonin flows through your body when you feel significant or important. Everybody wants to feel needed at one time or another. Without these feelings, loneliness and depression rear their ugly heads.

Did you know that just 20 minutes a day of sunshine will promote vitamin D and serotonin production? Take a lunch break or coffee break outside when possible. Too much U.V. rays can be harmful, so wear a light sunscreen.

Since our brain cannot distinguish fact from fiction, reflect on past achievements and re-live positive experiences. This will trick your brain into producing a dose of serotonin.

Endorphins was a term coined from endogenous (created within the body) + morphine (pain reliever). Endorphins are released in response to pain or stress, and they help alleviate anxiety and depression. Endorphins stimulate the opioid receptors in our brain to act as an analgesic and sedative.

To keep these neurochemicals flowing, consider a daily dose of laughter, or at least the thought or anticipation of laughter. If you are more of a sensory-perception person, keep some dark chocolate nearby or the number for a restaurant serving spicy food. Aromatherapy has also been linked to endorphins production. Lavender and vanilla seem to be the favorites. Looks like our ancestors did their research; many flower gardens and talcum powders contained lavender, and vanilla was a culinary necessity and preferred perfume scent.

A little D.O.S.E. of happiness is as simple as sharing a positive attitude, along with reflecting and planning worthwhile and rewarding tasks. Have a happy day!

~ Dr. Doscher

Share

Time for a mind and body detox?

The holidays are my favorite time of the year, when I am not stressed to meet deadlines, fighting a wicked cold, trying to outsmart even the savviest professional shopper, and appearing jovial throughout the gloomiest of frigid days!  Woohoo, that was cathartic.  So, how should we prepare for the holidays?

Prayer or meditation opens your mind and allows you to release and shrug off the weight of daily doldrums.  Walking to and from a neighbor’s house to say “hello”, stimulates endorphin production to help ease bodily aches and elevate your mood.  By reducing cortisol levels, you are making your heart healthier and reducing your risk for osteoporosis.  Your body thanks you!

Did you know the above tips also help reduce adrenaline levels, which tend to be over the top, in us high energy, anxious Type A personalities?  If you know a child or adult who is battling attention deficit disorder (ADD)or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), share these tidbits with them as well.

On to detoxing our bodies… you are what you eat and [drink]!  Some of you may remember the elephant posters in school cafeterias back in the 1970’s with this slogan.  I, of course, took it to mean I had the potential to become an elephant.  Not the intention of the American Dietary Association.  I believe they were thinking more along the lines of not replacing molasses for motor oil in your car’s engine.

Although the intentions of the “healthier” fast-food establishments are to provide daily nutritional meals, fresh vegetables are rarely on their menus.  Hence, too many of us are lacking in our daily magnesium intake.  Why magnesium?   Your heart, bones, and brain will thank you.  A time-released high-absorbency magnesium vitamin is best, which I have found at Jigsaw Health.com.  Of course, consult with a medical professional before taking my advice.

Here’s to a happier and healthier you! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you all!

Michelle Doscher, PhD

Share