Do you ever think about WHY your body feels so good when you’re happy, exercising, in the sun or in love? An even better question may be WHY you feel so good after a visit to your favourite chiropractor? These things may seem more similar on a physiological level than you’d anticipate.
Our emotions are regulated by our brain’s ability to release different hormones, or natural body chemicals, during specific activities. There are FOUR “happy hormones” we can focus on boosting to improve your mood in the winter months:
- Oxytocin is the famous “love hormone” whose main function is to facilitate childbirth (and rewards your brain for processes related to that). Oxytocin is released by our brain when we’re with our partners, touching another person, giving someone a hug or cuddling with our children. One of the best ways to increase oxytocin in our bodies naturally is through exercise.
- Endorphins can act as your body’s “natural painkillers”. Endorphins are actually released in response to pain or stress. Interestingly, endorphins are released after an adjustment, which may explain in part why some of our patients feel so great immediately after their adjustment. Other ways to release endorphins include exercise, acupuncture, meditation and UV light from the sun.
- Serotonin helps to balance your mood, and promotes feelings of well-being and reward. Serotonin also functions in memory, digestion, addiction, breathing and body temperature, among other physiological functions. Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression, with one of the most common types of antidepressants being SSRIs (or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which block the reabsorption of serotonin in your brain so you feel happier longer. Some of the best natural ways to increase serotonin are exercise and sunlight.
- Dopamine plays a role in feeling happiness, pleasure and reward. We can help to have a healthy baseline dopamine level by viewing early morning sunlight for 10-30 minutes, taking a cold shower in the morning, and avoiding bright (blue) light between 10pm-4am. Interestingly, caffeine also makes your body less sensitive to dopamine’s effects… (take this as you will!)
Utilize some of these tricks to help improve your mood throughout the winter months. Chiropractic’s effect on the nervous system can help to release all of these hormones, through physical touch, adjustments, exercise and commuting outside to our office. Yet another reason to call us for an appointment… If anyone in your circle could use a happiness boost, think of chiropractic as a part of the solution!