Our brain is made up of 100's of neurotransmitters, evolutionarily many of them were and still are essential for survival. When we feel good it is because our brain chemicals are working well.
There are four major chemicals in the brain that influence our happiness, it is really helpful for us to learn what they are, what they do and how we get them.
Dopamine is often referred to as our 'reward or pleasure' neurotransmitter. It is actually a survival chemical...our motivator! For example as cavemen/cavewomen it was released when we caught our food. This encouraged us to do it again and again and again. We still release dopamine when we eat and because our natural instinct is to do more and more of what makes us feel good this can sometimes mean we turn to snacking or overeating in a bid to feel better. Unfortunately this can be counter productive and there are better ways to feel good.
We also produce dopamine when we have sex which encourages to reproduce. That is why sometimes when we meet someone new we get those butterfly or excited feelings!
We can produce dopamine by completing something you enjoy for example an excersise class, gardening or even better by being kind and helping others. Also to ensure that your brain increases dopamine naturally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep has been shown to reduce concentrations of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, and their receptors. Some research shows that listening to music that we enjoy can release dopamine.
Stress can also have a negative effective on dopamine so trying to reduce stress can help, solutions focused hypnotherapy can be effective in reducing stress and some research shows that trance can even help us produce more dopamine!
Unfortunately a lack of natural dopamine can often lead to addictions such as gambling, gaming, phone addiction etc.
Oxytocin is often referred to as our 'bonding' or 'love' neurotransmitter. It's the chemical we would have released when we were fed milk as a baby, the brains of new mothers are usually flooded with oxytocin to help the bonding process as well.
We still release oxytocin when we have cuddles, kiss or when we trust someone! We can even release it when we shake hands with someone.
Oxytocin is the neurotransmitter that gives us that warm fuzzy feeling...so go on have a cuddle, even cuddling a pet with produce oxytocin!!
Serotonin is often known as our 'happy chemical' it is one of the most important neurotransmitters we have! Serotonin is believed to help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function.
A lack of serotonin is also thought to have a negative effect on confidence and self esteem.
To produce serotonin we need the three P's Positive Interaction, Positive Action and Positive thoughts!