Keeping our hormones in balance is a delicate task, especially as women, and the health of our hormones is significantly influenced by our daily routines and choices as well as our environmental influence. All of our hormones are in constant communication with each other and keeping them in balance is imperative when it comes to supporting our overall happiness and wellbeing.
It’s no secret that we love a health and wellness hack or two at PK HQ, thus we’ve decided to explore four significant happiness hormones including serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins and share what we’ve learned about supporting them naturally.
Serotonin (mood hormone)
Serotonin is the mood regulating hormone and as well as regulating our moods and reducing feelings of anxiety and depression, it also has major influence over our appetite, memory, sleep cycles, sexual drive and much, much more.
Endorphins (pain regulator)
Endorphins are here to naturally reduce pain and increase pleasure! Endorphins work as the brain's natural pain and stress relievers. They are released by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands to help to block the nerve cells that receive pain or stress signals. Endorphins are present when we are experiencing pleasure and are most often released during laughter, love, sex and even whilst consuming certain foods.
Dopamine (pleasure hormone)
This feel-good neurotransmitter is most notably involved in the pleasure we feel as a result of reinforcement or reward. Making love, receiving our parcel in the mail (aka shopping) and smelling our favourite cake being baked in the oven — all of these things can trigger dopamine release and often will have us quickly coming back for more.
Oxytocin (love hormone)
Oxytocin is most notably experienced when we fall in love as well as the ‘warm-fuzzies’ we can feel when we indulge in consensual physical touch, our favourite yoga or meditation class or when listening to our favourite song.
We all know that exercise, good quality sleep and regular balanced meals can help regulate our hormones but here are some of the lesser discussed ways to naturally boost our happiness hormones and start feelin’ gooooooood.
Eat Good Fats. Firstly, fats have been demonised for far too long and this is so disappointing for us as women as (good) fats are the building blocks of our hormones. As a qualified Integrative Health Practitioner and as someone who has been on a journey or two with their health, if I’ve learned anything about hormones it’s that consuming healthy fats daily (think: avocado, omega-3’s, ghee, nuts and seeds) is imperative when it comes to supporting the synthesis of our sex hormones and as a result, directly boosting our happiness hormones.
Probiotics. Probiotics do so much more than just improve your gut-health, they can help enhance mental health and brain function too! Information around the brain-gut connection is becoming much more accessible in recent years and it has been fun to learn that like the brain, the gut produces many of the same neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Be sure to opt for some good quality yoghurt, miso soup, sauerkraut or probiotic supplements to keep your serotonin levels in check.
Eat (dark) chocolate Do you ever just crave chocolate when you’re feeling flat? I know I certainly do. Well, this could be a sweet little love-note from your body signalling that you may need an endorphin booster. Eating dark chocolate rich in cocoa — ideally 70% cocoa or higher — can boost levels of endorphins and dopamine.
Make love. Both endorphins and dopamine are released during sex and orgasm triggers the release of oxytocin, the trifecta of goodness. These feel-good hormones activate the pleasure centres in the brain that generate feelings relaxation, emotional connection and love.
Sunlight. The human body is specially designed to receive the suns golden rays as we have thousands of vitamin D receptors throughout our body. When sunlight enters our eyes, it activates the part of our brain that produces serotonin. Explore this piece we’ve written, an ode to the benefits of sunlight.
Laugh. When was the last time you truly belly laughed? Put on your favourite stupid comedy and get those giggles going. Laughter is scientifically proven to release endorphins and as a result help elevate symptoms of depression, anxiety and even assist in treating poor sleep patterns.
Yoga & Meditation. Having a daily practice of yoga and meditation, even if for only 15-30 minutes a day, can help release all of the happiness hormones we’ve discussed! Despite the exclusive culture and expensive memberships (although we do love to indulge) that have been built around certain practices, yoga and meditation can be extremely simple and accessible tools that can help us to re-wire the brain and experience an influx of happiness hormones. Even just a simple deep inhale and long exhale can have us feeling the benefits.
Okay PK Pals, it must be noted that too much of a good thing is never the answer and extremes rarely result in balance. Be sure to have discernment and to not over-indulge in any of the above but instead, seek a healthy balance and enjoy all the good stuff often enough; for us that’s sunlight, laughter, good fats, making love and eating chocolate!
With love, PK.
Written by Denise Battany.