How to Build Emotional Resilience by Boosting Your “Happy Chemicals”
Feeling happy or at peace is not always down to the good or bad things happening in your life – it often has to do with what’s happening in our body.
Yes, stressors at home and at work can make or break our day – but taking care of ourselves physically can determine just how emotionally resilient we are to these triggers.
One way to understand the connection between our mind and body is by looking at our “happy chemicals” – the hormones and neurotransmitters, also referred to as chemical messengers, that come into play when we’re feeling good.
Four key feel-good chemicals you should know about
Also known as “the love hormone”, oxytocin is released through touch and other activities and is linked to positive social behaviours and a feeling of connectedness.
Dopamine is known as the reward neurotransmitter, and is released in response to pleasure. Foods, smells, activities and physical touch can all trigger a “dopamine rush”.
Known as the mood stabiliser, serotonin makes us feel focused and emotionally stable when it’s at normal levels. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression
Endorphins, our brain’s natural painkillers, are released to help relieve pain and stress.
On the opposite team we have cortisol, the main hormone linked to our stress response. Each of these hormones and neurotransmitters is linked to complex systems in our bodies, and involved in lots of different functions.
But there are simple, proven ways to boost our feel-good hormones and keep the stress hormone cortisol in check. Here are five examples, following a framework we use in most of our wellbeing sessions: cover your BASES (breathing techniques, activity, sleep, eating right, and social connection).
Five ways to keep your “happy chemicals” and stress hormones in check
Deep breathing signals to your nervous system to lower your heart rate, blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol
Exercise triggers the release of endorphins – which is why a workout session can often give us an instant high.
Sleep affects your body’s overall hormonal balance, and is linked to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
A balanced and nutritious diet, and certain foods in particular, can help your body produce more dopamine and serotonin. Plus, there’s growing evidence of the links between a healthy gut and digestion and mental health.
Healthy socialising, the kind that feels rewarding, promotes the release of oxytocin and other happy chemicals.
Whenever you’re feeling stuck in a stressful situation, think of your joy and stress chemicals – and all the small actions you can take to regain control over them.
Ready to help your busy employees look after their mental and physical wellbeing? Find out more about our employee wellbeing sessions and programmes or schedule a discovery call with us today.