8 Natural Doses of Feel Better ‘Happy Chemicals’

Who doesn’t suffer those ginormous demands in meeting work or business commitments, along with financial burdens, family obligations and the rest? They leave us feeling pooped and looking for another life. I can’t help but think of those battery-operated bunny ads. The #1 way I look to feel alive again is through doses of wildness. This article covers where to get those wholesome feel-better-natural doses for a new release of life.

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Seventy-seven percent of people in the U.S. experience physical symptoms due to stress and 48% suffer negative effects of stress on their personal and social lives. The top cause of stress in the U.S. is job pressure. And, the worst bit… Spending often becomes a coping mechanism for stress — with people cycling between spending and stressing.

The Natural Desire to Feel Better

Here’s the kicker…

Wanting to boost your mood is natural, but it can cost a packet. Americans as a whole spend over $11 Billion a year fighting stress.

It may well be money worth spending with job stress voiced as a major cause of stress in the U.S. Still, stress can affect all areas of our lives, including work, school, family, relationships, community, and sport.

In the quest to feel better, some people use avenues that can be detrimental, risky, or illegal even.

Good news! There are ways to boost your mood and relieve stress without the nasty side-effects.

Reasons for Health Supplements

As we age, our bodies lose the ability to absorb natural goodness as easily and hence many people choose supplements. Other reasons to include supplements relate to your genes, location, or immediate situation. If concerned, talk to your doctor.

There are supplements that provide natural treatment for depression, anxiety, and stress, if mild. These are natural mood enhancers. Such natural supplements include essential oils and herbal and vitamin formulas.

These are other wholesome ways (I get to these below), but first knowing what’s involved in boosting your mood helps.

Our bodies naturally produce mood enhancers to combat stress.

Our Body Produces These Four Happy Chemicals

1. Dopamine for Feeling Rewarded

  • Most types of rewards boost dopamine.
  • If you’re lacking energy or zest for life, it could be you’re not feeling rewarded and…well… are lacking in dopamine.
  • We feel bliss, pleasure, motivation, and euphoria through dopamine.
  • How to feel rewarded?
  • An ultimate is a rewarding job, but admittedly this is rare.
  • Getting paid just doesn’t cut it as far as activating dopamine.

How about consciously including rewards? Just …not those that lead to addiction and abuse. Natural ways to increase energy levels and motivation are best. But, even natural ways can be addictive. So don’t get hooked as this undermines our wildness (in being who we need to be for our wellness).

Indications are that dopamine production declines with age. Look, knowing how to feel more energetic as you age is important.

How to feel more energized? The natural way: sound sleep — not always that simple.

Dopamine helps with feeling energized. Its production can be stimulated through certain foods and supplements. Though dopamine itself cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, several precursors can. One form is L-DOPA. Another is L-tyrosine.

Dopamine Boosting SupplementsSee Amazon.com for best selection and value

2. Oxytocin for Feeling Loved

  • A sign of an oxytocin deficiency is aggression.
  • Known as the love or bonding hormone, it is promoted as a natural antidepressant from the social aspect.
  • It helps build trust and attachment between individuals.

A downside is that it fosters social behaviors like clickiness. Being on the ‘outer’ of any clicky circle makes me feel I don’t belong and of being ‘different’, which counters the effect of serotonin (read below). Fostering arrogance (and bullying even) over those outside the ‘click’ is also not a good thing. So, oxytocin is complicated and has a dark side.

Still, knowledge has a great way of freeing us from fear and anxiety and just knowing this information helps us address our particular needs.

3. Serotonin for Confidence

  • Feeling lonely? Could be you are deficient in serotonin.  Another sign of low serotonin is an unhealthy desire to seek attention.
  • Serotonin affects mood, the ability to learn and is related to memory.
  • It also regulates appetite and sleep and in a feedback type of loop, like other biochemicals, our bodies synthesize serotonin during sleep.
  • Serotonin flows when we are feeling appreciated with a sense of belonging. Even reflecting on past accomplishments can activate serotonin.

Tryptophan plays a key role in serotonin production. Our bodies can’t manufacture tryptophan and hence it is essential in our diets. It is found in bananas, pineapples, plums, turkey, and milk. Combining carbohydrates with these foods in meals enhances the uptake of tryptophan.

Vitamin D3 increases serotonin levels in our brain¹. Vitamin D3 is formed from the UVB rays on our skin¹.

Women appear to be particularly affected by fluctuations in estrogen levels. Several lines of evidence indicate that estrogen affects serotonin function, especially seen in the loss of cognitive abilities and in depression in menopausal women².

Serotonin boosting supplements See Amazon.com for best selection and value

4. Endorphin for Pain-Killing

  • This one is known as the ‘happy drug’.
  • Endorphins are opioid neuropeptides.
  • They allow us to operate at high levels in extremes.
  • If you’re feeling emotionally sensitive and suffering chronic pain, you could be low on endorphins.

Stress depletes our reserves of these feel-good chemicals, as does over prescription of caffeine and alcohol.

Indications are that endorphin production declines with age. Joining gyms and fitness training programs are a way of boosting our natural endorphins.

For some people, extreme sports fits the bill.

Daily exercise can help you with gaining a resting and sound sleep at night.

Stress Relief SupplementsSee Amazon.com for best selection and value

The Natural Spa Package for Zero $$

How to lift your mood without breaking the bank. Spa retreats can cost anything from $100 for 60 mins to tens of thousands for a week.

Here are natural free ways to boost the ‘happy chemical’ quartet: Dopamine-Oxytocin-Serotonin-Endorphin (D O S E). Admittedly food costs $$, but the idea is to substitute the usual purchases with better choices without extra spending. Combine and vary items on the list for a regular stress busting zero $$ package. Make sure to cover all four brain messengers.

#1 Hugs are a dose of Oxytocin

Dopamine  Oxytocin  Serotonin  Endorphin

  • Get a massage from a friend or someone close
  • Cuddle, hold hands with someone you care for
  • Give and receive gifts
  • Do random acts of kindness

#2 Eating can be a dose of Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphin

 

 

D  O  S  E

  • L-Tyrosine found in many protein-rich foods.
  • Broad beans (Vicia faba) and Mucuna pruriens (velvet beans) for L-DOPA a precursor to dopamine
  • Drink teas for L-theanine
  • Curcumin, in turmeric.
  • Magnesium rich foods such as spinach, almonds, and black beans
  • Food with Vitamin B6, 9 & 12
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids in flaxseed oil and fish

D  O  S  E

  • Eating, in general, stimulates release of oxytocin

D  O  S  E

  • Pineapples, eggs, salmon, turkey, and other foods rich in tryptophan
  • Mixing high-tryptophan foods with carbs is thought to give you a serotonin boost.

D  O  S  E

  • Dark chocolate –  best: organic cacao
  • Capsaicin in chili
  • Ginseng

#3 Relaxation and Reflection is a dose of Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphin

 

D  O  S  E

  • Spend time reflecting on life
  • Meditate
  • Practice yoga stretches
  • Daily gratitude journaling
  • Sit in nature, the park or your garden and watch the wildlife (includes the tiniest)
  • Lie on your back and watch the clouds in the sky

#4 Sunshine is a dose of Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphin

D  O  S  E

  • Spend 7-20 mins in sunshine having coffee or lunch at least 3 days a week
  • Duration should be pre-sunburn, varying with skin type and UV*
  • Get outdoors for a walk in the sunshine (but avoid the hot midday sun during harsh conditions and beware of the risks of too much sun exposure)

#5 Reward is a dose of Dopamine

D  O  S  E

  • Set a series of small milestones followed by rewards on every completion
  • Draft a to-do list and cross off tasks as they are completed
  • Journal each day and note even the smallest accomplishment

#6 Environment is a dose of Serotonin

D  O  S  E

  • Try Forest Bathing or head to the beach for negative air ions in nature
  • Get outside and connect with nature for the phytoncides (aromatic compounds of trees and plants) and natural essential oils
  • Use lavender, vanilla, or other uplifting natural scents
  • Listen to sounds and scenes of landscapes, birds, waterfalls, lakes, beaches, etc.

#7 Humor is a dose of Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphin

D  O  S  E

  • Watch a comedy
  • Tell jokes
  • Share funny stories
  • Subscribe to a daily email that makes you laugh

#8 Exercise is a dose of Endorphins

D  O  S  E

  • Dance, under the stars, in the moonlight, anywhere
  • Walk, run in the park or along nature trails or the beach
  • Check out Parkour fitness training, which uses urban infrastructure
  • Cycle around your neighborhood and the wider outdoors
  • Gardening: Grow your own veggies
  • Go hiking
  • Stretch, yawn even

 

*Sunlight-induced vitamin D production lessens with age.

feel better natural, vitamin D, sunshine, mood enhancers, mood boosters

Sunlight exposure as minutes per day, no sunscreen, wearing shorts and t-shirt or swimsuit. Source: GB HealthWatch

The Wildness Benefit

Even modern dentists are using virtual reality that has patients in amidst nature to allay anxiety in the chair: “Researchers found that patients who were able to walk around a natural environment using the technology experienced reduced levels of anxiety.”
You see…
Because connecting with nature helps to boost your mood, you should really get outside more often. Get among the dunes at the beach, head to the mountains, the valleys, be near running water or tree communities, even the nearby park or garden.
Stress is basically a disconnection from the Earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down. ~Natalie Goldberg
In Blinded by Science Matthew Silverstone talks about vibrations and natural energies that help us feel better.
People have been ruminating about vibrations and nature’s connection for some time:
  • The Beach Boys’ hit song, Good Vibrations.
  • Movies like Avatar: The Na’vi people at the Tree of Souls connected with their spiritual and guiding force, Eywa.
  • J. Bopp and P. Morris story of the Sacred Tree reflects on the importance of the wild, trees in particular, in Native American Spirituality.

For all the people of the earth, the Creator has planted a Sacred Tree under which they may gather, and there find healing, power, wisdom and security.”

By the way…

Trees have been revered for eons because of their power in making us feel better.

  • The Bible mentions the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
  • Buddha reached enlightenment under the Bodhi tree where he sat and meditated.
  • The Druids and Pagans worshiped among sacred groves of trees.

Summing it up

We need to be charged and energized for traversing what life has to offer.

The ultimate is to feel better naturally. Start using natural remedies to reduce stress and apply or practice these fixes daily. It will save you heartache and dollars in the long run.

If you need to, consider using natural supplements to boost your mood and counter stress.

Where do you go for your Feel-Better-Naturals?

Related: Feeling Overwhelmed? How I dealt with Crushing Demand. What I’ve Learnt, and Feeling Stuck? Do You Need to Assess Your Core Values?

Sources:

  1. Humble, Mats B.  (2010). Vitamin D, light and mental health, Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, Volume 101, Issue 2, Pages 142-149, ISSN 1011-1344, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2010.08.003. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1011134410001879)
  2. Epperson, C. N., Amin, Z., Ruparel, K., Gur, R., & Loughead, J. (2012). Interactive Effects of Estrogen and Serotonin On Brain Activation During Working Memory and Affective Processing in Menopausal Women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(3), 372–382. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.07.007

Stress Statistics

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Mary-Anne J.

About Mary-Anne J.

Hi, I'm Mary-Anne. Welcome to my site about 'wellness through wildness'. Wildness is not just about nature, it's about being free to be who you need to be for your wellness. I believe that connecting with the wild is the simplest and most in tune way to achieve and maintain wellness. It's not only the wild outside that counts but the wild within that needs acknowledging. That's where this mindset begins.

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The natural ways to boost your mood are free. Natural supplements help where needed as well. This article covers four main happy chemicals that we produce in our bodies, how they affect us, and how to boost them naturally. Natural mood boosters, natural mood enhancers, how to feel better naturally is covered.

2 Comments

  1. kellie arndt says:

    Dear Mary-Anne,
    The ‘DOSE’ concept is so informative. I have recently read a reason cheese is often difficult to give up for vegans is due to dairy creating opiate responses in our brain…resulting with a reward hit of pleasure or a temporary decrease in feeling pain (either physical or emotional). I believe over 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut, this suggests that a healthy and balanced gut can influence physical and emotional states. I think your suggestions are brilliant, as you demonstrate that a holistic approach is so important for good health, understanding our inner and outer environments are so vital! (quality sleep, diet, movement, touch, social, learning, connecting, etc)
    From Kellie.

    • Hi Kellie, Thanks for those comments. I can relate to how cheese would have that effect. 🙂 There are certain cheeses that woo me. And definitely, the gut is an important part of who we are, with 100 trillion bacteria living in our guts we are literally walking universes. And these gut bacteria are amazing as they play a role in the uptake of essential nutrients and function of our digestive system for our wellness. So important to manage what we ingest as it determines our gut community and in turn our wellness. The old saying ‘we are what we eat’ has substance, though not as simple as it sounds. More and more scientists are finding links between what goes on in the gut and how we behave etc. I can imagine it is important for serotonin then. The basic things in life that are what we so often take for granted, like you mentioned: sound sleep, wholesome diet, energy flows, physical human touch, getting outdoors, appreciating clean water, fresh air, diversity, and the wild communities. We need to treasure these. Another saying: stop and smell the roses. Ha! take care

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