We all would like to be positive as much as we can in our lives, and we all try our hardest to achieve that. But what do we do when a positive outlook just seems too hard to find? We all have days when trying to find one thing positive is hard enough, let alone have positive thoughts about lots of things. Are there such things as happy hormones? Below are listed the three principles that, if you can try to do, will help bring about an air of positivity and improve your mental wellbeing.
To understand the principles of positivity, we first need to understand the science behind what it does for our wellbeing.
There are four main happy hormones that our bodies need to help us feel good. If we don’t have enough of these then we can feel the effects within ourselves.
– Dopamine helps to drive our brain’s reward system and gives us pleasure and motivation when we achieve our goals.
– Oxytocin is more commonly known as the love hormone. It has a big role to play in intimacy, empathy and helps us to build and maintain stable and satisfying relationships.
– Serotonin is the hormone that helps to regulate sleep, diet and digestion. Also, it is what helps us feel more emotionally settled and helps us to focus and retain information better.
– Endorphins enable us to cope effectively with stress and anxiety. It also regulates physiological responses to help us deal with physical and emotional pain.
Many situations can naturally trigger these hormones and often we don’t have to give much conscious thought to this. However, when we are experiencing a particularly challenging or stressful time, we may need to be more intentional about boosting our happy hormones, but how?
The answer is to apply the three principles of productivity:
#1 Positive thought
#2 Positive action
#3 Positive interaction
Every thought that we have has energy, and this energy then translates to activity. This means that when we think something, it will create a feeling in us which will then drive our behaviour to gain an outcome. If we spend time thinking that something won’t work or end terribly, then that will create feelings of hopelessness and negativity. We are more likely to then behave in a way that will reflect these thoughts and feelings and the outcome will likely be what we feared.
In the same way, if we think that something will work out well for us, that will create feelings of happiness, hope and to expect success. We would then behave in a way that mirrors these feelings and our outcome is likely to be positive.
Some examples of ways that you can achieve positive thoughts are:
– List something you are grateful for each day. This helps the brain to focus on what we have, not what we don’t have, and this increases serotonin.
– Limit your news/social media exposure. The news recently has been very negative, but when we focus on positive news stories it stimulates serotonin. This will help us feel confident that a positive outcome will be the best solution.
– Remind yourself of your value. Thinking about how we contribute and make a difference to others is a great dopamine enhancer and increases our confidence.
This is about doing things that will bring about a positive outcome and this will generate any of our four happy hormones. The action of doing something and getting this outcome will particularly help to bring about dopamine as this is our internal reward system. This in turn then gives us the motivation to take more positive actions.
When we feel stressed or anxious though we are unmotivated, and we don’t want to do much. The key thing to remind yourself of is that as soon as you start taking positive action, your bodies internal reward system will kick in and motivate us to do it anyway!
Some examples of positive action are:
– Listen to feel-good music. This has been scientifically proven to help release dopamine and help us to achieve our goals. Think about when you have had to clean the house and had some cheesy tunes on?!
– Get outside. We have mentioned this a lot in our blogs. We know that being outside makes us feel better, and combine that with exercise too and you’ve stimulated serotonin and endorphins.
– Prioritise getting good sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep we are unable to deal with our stress bucket and this can then lead to it overflowing and this, in turn, will then cause us to lose the ability to find solutions to problems. Here are 8 tips to make you feel less tired during the day.
Having positive relationships is vital to our mental health as it makes us feel loved and supported during good and bad times. Therefore, when we are then faced with tough situations, they are easier to deal with. People who do not have these positive relationships or support can feel loneliness and this is known to affect our mental health massively. It is so important, especially in these current times, that we have positive relationships to draw upon. They help us deal with and adapt to the amounts of change we are faced with.
Some ways that we can have positive interaction are:
– Play games with partners, children, pets (or even online over video calls with friends!). Playing games as an adult can have many benefits alongside releasing our happy hormones. It can help with our brain function, increase creativity and even make us more productive at work!
– Be kind. A saying that went around the world last year and is one to remember. Helping others reduces feelings of isolation and increase our sense of belonging, which will bring about oxytocin. Smiling sends a message to our brain that we are happy, and that triggers serotonin.
– Keep connected to people. We thrive on social interaction, and for the last 12 months that has been taken away from us. But we are so lucky with the technology we have nowadays to help us to continue to connect to people. When we interact positively with others, we release oxytocin. This helps us deal with stress as we feel loved.
When we intentionally engage in positive thought, take positive action and interact in a positive way we improve our overall mental wellbeing and our mental resilience and performance.
All clinicians at Birmingham CBT practice Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or are Psychologists, providing evidence-based interventions and support for a range of issues for both young people and adults. If you would like to book an appointment you can do so on our online booking portal. If you have a question please get in touch via our online contact form or call us on 01865 920077.