How to Help Stimulate Them
It has been a considerable year for keeping and staying positive. One of the
theme presentations in therapy has been fatigue. Fatigue relating to individual circumstances and then the commonality of ‘pressing on’ through the challenges Covid-19 presented for people. The end of year is a relevant time to reflect on what you need and your body needs to ‘stock up’ going forward. To appreciate all of your small wins this year and perhaps to appreciate yourself more. If you are feeling exhausted or stressed, you are not alone.
Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins and Oxytocin are hormones naturally secreted in our bodies and are fundamentally important to our mental wellbeing.
Understanding how these hormones work and how to stimulate them is a useful tool to have in your mental health kit.
Dopamine – the pleasure hormone – a neurotransmitter – taking signals
from your body to your brain. These neurotransmitters are a primary source of our brains reward system and spikes when we feel something pleasurable. Ever heard the term; “a dopamine hit?” Engaging in an enjoyable activity, having fun and nourishing your body with touch, good food, a swim or a soothing bath can help to stimulate dopamine. Laughter can also activate dopamine.
Serotonin – the mood stabiliser – a hormone and a neurotransmitter. A
neurotransmitter within the nerve cells, transmitting messages between the
nerve cells in your brain. Serotonin is a complex chemical; but as most of us will know, a hormone that impacts our entire body. Furthermore, way of functioning.
Serotonin is produced in our central nervous system. If we know at least this much, we know it is our nervous system we need to support. We can do this by continuous self-care and self-soothing to minimise stress. Natural serotonin can be stimulated by the simple things you do throughout your day such as being outdoors, walking, exercising, being in the sunshine, listening to music and meditation, gratitude or positive self-affirmations, taking rest or getting a good night’s sleep, healthy foods and plenty of water.
Endorphins – our natural painkillers. Endorphins are naturally secreted (and stored) in the pituitary gland to help cope with pain and stress. Situated at the base of our brain, somewhat behind the nose and between the ears. Also known as the “feel-good” chemical because endorphins act as a pain reliever and happiness booster. Endorphins are secreted by laughter. Physical exercise optimises the release of endorphins but if energetic exercise like running, cycling or gym workouts is not your thing then power
walking, dance, body stretches or getting a massage can work well too.
Oxytocin – the love hormone – is produced by the hypothalamus, a small gland in the lower left hand part of our brain. Caring human touch and the hypothalamus go together like “a flower needs the sun.” Consciousness
exercise or movement like yoga, tai chi, expressive dance, a walk in the sun or in nature or any feel-good physical contact also stimulates the release of Oxytocin.
The gift of a hug this Christmas can naturally be the giving and receiving of Oxytocin. Merry Christmas, may it be joyful and merry. If not, may it be a temporary time, that ‘Christmas’ will pass as quickly as it came.
Being human with you