The Importance of Neurochemicals
Being in a positive state of mind can have a significant impact on your overall well being, motivation, and productivity. These wonderful little built-in neurochemicals are readily available in the human body and have a broad range of very positive affects on our brain and our body.
Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Endorphins are the four neurochemicals that are responsible for creating and sustaining your internal happiness and overall sense of well-being and accomplishment. There are a number of situations that can and will trigger these readily available neurotransmitters. The trick is knowing how these neurochemicals work in our bodies and what we need to do to trigger them.
Dopamine is the chemical that motivates. High levels of dopamine motivates action toward goals in your life and gives you a surge of pleasure when you’ve achieved those goals. A dopamine addict thrives on the next goal achieved. Low levels of dopamine are just the opposite and cause procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm.
One way to achieve those frequent doses of dopamine is to break down your bigger goals into smaller ones. By doing so, you can create a series of accomplishments that keep your dopamine levels high. Part of the process is to truly acknowledge the moment and actually celebrate it by buying a bottle of wine, or head to your favorite restaurant or just taking the time you need to pat yourself on the back for your achievement.
Like any drug you can actually get a dopamine hangover when you slump after a massive high. Creating new goals and starting to act on them even before achieving your current goals will ensure a consistent pattern for experiencing dopamine.
Serotonin increases when you are feeling significant or important. When serotonin levels are low you can experience loneliness and depression. Positive feedback from family, friends, work and social communities are important to an individual’s serotonin release. Unhealthy attention-seeking behaviors are also a cry for what serotonin provides. Most antidepressants focus on the production of serotonin however, man-made reproductions of the delicate chemicals can lead to lifelong side effects and it is by far better to learn ways that you can help yourself release and sustain these chemicals within your own body.
There are a variety of techniques that will release serotonin into your body.
Reflecting on past achievements where you felt significant or important can help your brain relive the experience and causes a reaction in your body that releases serotonin. The brain does not make a differentiation between what is real and what is imagined, so it produces serotonin in both cases.
Practicing gratitude and appreciation even for the smallest of things are reminders and mental pictures of all the good things you’ve experienced that your brain processes and stores for you. When you need a serotonin boost during a stressful day, take a few moments to reflect on the things in life that you have to be grateful for and things and people that you appreciate that are in your life. Focusing on positive things will allow your serotonin levels to increase which will also decrease your blood pressure and level your heartbeat.
Another way to boost your serotonin levels is to expose yourself to the sun for up to 20 minutes a day. Your skin absorbs UV rays which promotes Vitamin-D and serotonin production. Although too much ultraviolet light isn’t good, some exposure is healthy for boosting your serotonin levels.
This is NOT Oxycontin, the drug that is playing a large part in prescription drug abuse. Oxytocin is referred to as “the cuddle hormone” and creates intimacy, trust, and strengthens relationships. It’s released by both men and women during orgasm, and by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding. An mother animal will reject her offspring if the release of oxytocin is blocked. Healthy doses of oxytocin is the glue that binds together healthy relationships.
A simple way to keep your oxytocin flowing in your body is to give someone a hug. Dr. Paul Zak says that inter-personal touch not only raises oxytocin, but reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system. He recommends eight hugs a day. Giving someone a gift, will also cause your oxytocin levels to rise and as an added bonus it also gives a boost to the receiver.
Endorphins are released in response to pain and stress. Their primary job is to alleviate anxiety. The euphoric “runner’s high” is a result of endorphins. Similar to morphine, it acts as an analgesic and sedative and diminishes your perception of pain.
Laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce endorphin release. Even forced laughter and the anticipation or expectation of laughter increases your body’s level of endorphins. Taking time out during the day to have a good laugh is a great and simple way of keeping those good feelings going.
Aromatherapies: the smell of vanilla and lavender has been linked with the production of endorphins. Studies have shown that dark chocolate and spicy foods will cause your brain to release endorphins. Keeping scented oils and dark chocolate in your life will help your body get a quick endorphin boost.
It is a known scientific fact that we still know very little about how our bodies work and the power behind them. But this we do know, neurochemicals control the way we feel about ourselves and how we heal ourselves. Take what know and put it to work for you. Give someone a hug, treat yourself to a personal celebration, eat some dark chocolate, smell the roses and get those neurochemicals cooking and working for you in your life.
Man Made Neurochemicals
Many of the drugs which get abused are some form of a man made Neurochemical. In some instances, many drugs today stimulate the excretion of a specific neurochemical. When your body naturally produces these chemicals, they provide the above referenced results, which can be very pleasurable. In today’s society we now have the ability to administer specific neurochemicals at will, it creates dependency. In many instances, the rehab is needed to overcome these dependencies. With many addictions today ultimately the bodies need to “feel” the effects of neurochemicals, its important that we educate ourselves on exactly what is happening inside our own body.
Brain Analysis of Neurochemicals