With World Mental Health Day coming up, we’ve been diving into the world of happy brain chemicals, and exploring practical ways of boosting them for ourselves. These fascinating hormones can significantly impact how we feel day-to-day and play a crucial role in our overall mental wellbeing. Keep in mind, it’s the small, consistent efforts that make the biggest difference.
🧠 Dopamine: The Motivation Molecule
Dopamine is often referred to as the “reward” brain chemical. It’s responsible for motivation, focus, and that sense of achievement when you complete a task. Boosting your dopamine levels can be a game-changer at work. Here’s how:
✅ Set Small, Actionable Goals
Break down your day’s tasks into bite-size, attainable goals. Crossing them off your to-do list releases dopamine, creating a positive feedback loop and a feeling of accomplishment.
✨ Try Something New
Put yourself forward for projects that allow you to learn new skills or expand your knowledge. Dopamine is released when you engage in novel experiences, so grab opportunities that spark your curiosity.
🎧 Listen to Music you Love
When you listen to familiar songs you enjoy, it can boost your dopamine levels. In fact, this effect becomes even more pronounced when the music gives you ‘chills’ or frisson.
🧠 Serotonin: The Mood Regulator
Serotonin is often called the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. It’s essential for regulating mood, reducing stress, and promoting mental clarity. Here’s how to give your serotonin levels a boost:
🥚 Eat Tryptophan-Rich Foods
Tryptophan serves as a precursor to serotonin, and your body uses it as a building block to produce this mood-regulating chemical. You can find this nutrient in foods like eggs, dairy products, legumes, almonds, and fish.
🙏 Practice Gratitude
Dedicate a few moments each day to reflect on the things you’re grateful for, both at work and in your personal life. When you’re in a grateful state of mind, your brain releases chemicals that promote feelings of wellbeing and joy, including serotonin.
🌳 Embrace the Outdoors
Getting out in the sun provides your body with Vitamin D, which is a precursor to serotonin. Exposure to natural light during the day also helps suppress the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, making you feel more alert.
🧠 Endorphins: The Natural Pain Relievers
Endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers. They’re released in response to stress and discomfort, providing a natural high and reducing pain perception. To harness their power at work:
🏃 Get Moving
Incorporate some short bursts of physical activity into your day. A quick walk or some desk stretches can trigger endorphin release and boost your mood.
🌶️ Eat Spicy Foods
Seasoning your meals with some chilli flakes will give your lunch a kick and also trigger the release of endorphins. This is due to a compound they contain called capsaicin, responsible for the sensation of heat you experience when you eat such foods.
🎁 Do Something Kind
Engaging in acts of kindness, such as volunteering, offering help, or providing emotional support, can lead to a surge in your endorphin levels, often referred to as the “helper’s high.”
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