If you could use a bit of a mental wellbeing boost, there are plenty of ways to naturally increase your happiness. Did you know that there are a handful of “happiness hormones” that support feelings of joy, happiness, and delight?
Here we’ll take a deeper look at how to naturally increase these happy hormones so you can feel your blissful best.
How to Naturally Increase Your Feelings of Joy and Wellbeing
There are countless factors that affect our level of happiness, with certain hormones playing a major role in the way we feel. These natural mood-enhancing hormones include serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins; and making sure these hormones’ levels stay balanced is vital for our mental and emotional wellbeing.
Largely associated with reward and pleasure, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that acts as a chemical messenger between neurons. It’s one of the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain that’s released when we anticipate and engage in pleasurable activities.
Every time we do something we love, dopamine is released in the brain. Shopping, sex, and eating food we love all release dopamine, which is largely why these activities tend to make us feel so good.
While dopamine can be great for feelings of wellbeing, pleasure, focus, and concentration, it can also be too much of a good thing. Keep in mind that excessive dopamine is linked to all kinds of unhealthy actions including increased risk taking, addictive behavior, aggression, and increased levels of stress.
How to Boost Dopamine Naturally
Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, low libido, and decreased pleasure are all signs of low dopamine levels. If your dopamine could use a bit of a boost, there are plenty of ways to naturally increase production of this happy hormone. Following are a few of our faves:
Try Dopamine Stimulating Supplements
There are several supplements that show to naturally increase production of dopamine. Some of these include probiotics, curcumin, magnesium, vitamin D, fish oil, and ginseng. You might also consider sipping on a daily cup of green tea, with recent research on rats showing frequent green tea consumption increases dopamine production and decreases symptoms of depression.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Lack of sleep isn’t just detrimental to our overall wellbeing, it can also wreak havoc on our hormone levels. Lack of sleep is particularly associated with lower levels of dopamine, with research showing sleep deprivation can inhibit dopamine transmission. For the most rejuvenating night’s rest, create a soothing bedtime routine and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Listen to Music You Love
Have you ever noticed how good you feel when listening to music you love? There’s a reason for it. Research shows that listening to music you love increases dopamine production in the brain. One study discovered that “music is of such high value across all human societies” because of increased dopamine release during moments of peak enjoyment.
Happiness, mood stability, and feelings of wellbeing are all associated with serotonin, one of the key hormones that regulates the way we feel. About 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. This mood-stabilizing hormone affects several functions throughout the body, and is widely believed to regulate our mood.
When serotonin levels are balanced, we tend to feel calm, happy, and emotionally stable. We’re less anxious and can focus better. When serotonin levels are low, we can feel depressed, anxious, and out of sorts.
How to Boost Serotonin Naturally
Following are a few ways to naturally encourage serotonin production so you can feel your balanced best.
Soak Up Some Sun
Research shows that exposure to sunlight can naturally increase serotonin levels and help reduce seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Just 5-15 minutes of sun on your face, arms, and hands 2-3 days a week is enough to naturally boost serotonin production. If your climate lacks adequate sunlight, you could try a sunlamp.
Try Serotonin Stimulating Supplements
Some of the best supplements to increase serotonin levels include SAMe, 5-HTP, vitamin D, and omega 3s. While it may take a bit of experimentation to find what works best for your own unique needs, each shows to be beneficial for serotonin production.
Consume Serotonin-Boosting Foods
You can eat your way to increased serotonin levels by consuming certain foods. Green tea; probiotic-containing foods like kimchi, yogurt and kefir; salmon, turkey; eggs; and pineapple are all beneficial for serotonin production.
Known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter. Released during childbirth and breastfeeding—as well as when cuddling, kissing, or engaged in sexual activity—oxytocin plays a huge role in regulating our emotional responses and pro-social behaviors.
Elevated oxytocin levels in the brain increase those warm, fuzzy feelings of psychological stability, trust, affection, empathy, and connection. Largely connected to serotonin and dopamine, this trinity of happiness hormones work together to make us feel amazing.
How to Boost Oxytocin Naturally
Interested in naturally boosting your love hormone levels? Following are a few easy ways you can harness more happiness.
Spend Time with People You Love
Oxytocin plays a huge role in our social interactions. Whether spending time with friends or engaging in intimate moments with our significant other, the release of oxytocin that occurs can increase warm feelings of connectedness, pleasure, and general wellbeing. Physical affection and oxytocin production are intimately connected, making touch one of the best ways to increase levels of this feel-good chemical in the brain.
Try Oxytocin Supporting Supplements
While physical touch is the quickest way to elevated oxytocin levels, there are a few key supplements that show to increase oxytocin production. These include vitamin D, vitamin C, and magnesium, and getting ample amounts of each through diet or supplementation is excellent for healthy oxytocin levels and function.
Get a Massage
The bliss felt from a good massage is believed to be largely triggered by the release of oxytocin. Research shows that just 15 minutes of massage could significantly boost oxytocin levels. While the benefits of getting a professional massage are unprecedented, massage from a friend or partner is also perfect for increasing levels of the coveted love hormone.
Most commonly associated with exercise and the infamous “runner’s high,” endorphins are another happy hormone released by the body to relieve stress and physical pain.
Endorphins are released during pleasurable activities like exercise and having sex, and are connected to an array of benefits including increased pleasure, improved mood, greater self-esteem, and reduced stress.
How to Boost Endorphins Naturally
Naturally boosting endorphin production is simple. Following are a few ways to produce more of this happy hormone and increase your level of joy:
Get Your Exercise On
Exercise is one of the best ways to boost endorphins. Moderate to intense exercise just 20-30 minutes a day can significantly increase the production of endorphins, as well as other feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin.
Live a Positive Lifestyle
Consume Foods that Promote Endorphin Production
There are a few foods that trigger the release of endorphins, including chili peppers, dark chocolate, and foods rich in vitamin C. Consuming these foods as part of your regular diet (making sure to moderate dark chocolate consumption to avoid sugar highs and lows) can naturally increase your endorphin high and make you feel fabulous.
While our happiness is determined by an array of factors, naturally supporting these happiness hormones could give you a mental wellbeing boost.
Hannah Smith is Joy Organics Director of Communications. She is driven by her passion for providing clear and accessible wellness and CBD education. In 2015, she received her BA in Media, Culture and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City and before Joy Organics, worked as writer and photographer in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Vice, Vox, Denver Post, and the Coloradoan.
Medically Reviewed by:
Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center After clinical practice, she founded a medical device company where she invented six patented medical devices for both life-threatening and non-life-threatening conditions.