Who couldn’t use a mood boost? Especially after two years of Covid-19 and emerging from a chilly winter (depending on where you live). Recall moments when you’ve felt truly good…
…at peace, calm, clearheaded, content, grateful, maybe even joyful
Photo Andre Furtado on Pexels.com
Ahhh, don’t you long for this always? I think we’ve all appreciated these moments but may not be aware of the scenarios that enabled them. They help trigger the “happy chemicals” in our brain: dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins and serotonin that promote feelings of wellbeing, a steady mood, inspiration and love for life. Maybe you notice it more on the weekends when you’re disconnected from work, on vacation, walking along a beach or quiet wooded trail, or after eating an unexpectedly delicious meal! There are many more scenarios depending on your unique DNA.
You don’t need a lot of expendable cash or time to partake in a mood boost—just an increased awareness of what activates it and the intention to get there. Even if you sneak in little snip-its throughout the day, you’ll still benefit! Examples:
- Endorphins (painkiller): laugh (ideally the deep belly type!) * exercise routinely with moderate to vigorous intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes (even greater benefit with others such as in a group class) * practice meditation * listen to uplifting music * rewatch a favorite movie
- Serotonin (mood): exercise of any type * sit or stroll in sunshine for at least 10-15 minutes * eat nutritious balanced meals * meditate * breathe deeply * focus on what’s happening right now (block out the yesterdays and tomorrows) * express thankfulness (a daily gratitude journal is more powerful than you think)
- Dopamine (reward): see or do something new * write down a few realistic tasks that you can complete in an hour or two, and complete them * savor and linger over a delicious meal or treat * create one goal of a positive behavior change and achieve it * eat enough daily protein as certain amino acids help produce dopamine
- Oxytocin (love and trust): spend time with people you love * express acts of kindness * pray * get a 15-minute chair massage * pet an animal
Personally, I feel the greatest uplift in mood after doing things that stimulate without the pressure to perform or meet a time deadline. This includes practicing my Spanish, seeing new things where I learn something (like visiting a museum), exploring a new city, writing this blog 🙂 Below is a snap of a recent vacation that was delayed several times because of the pandemic. I felt multiple brain chemicals flowing because I was with people I love and trust, met the goal of actually getting there, walking in sunshine and fresh air the whole day, feeling wonder at seeing and learning new things, and praying thanks for each enjoyable moment. My goofball son was making fun of IG and TikTok poses but it still expresses the joy I felt!
What helps lift you up?