Hormones play a complicated and important role in the way your body functions and even functions the way you feel. Some hormones have a big impact on your mood and happiness because of the signals they send to your brain.

Four hormones that affect how happy you feel are dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin.

Here is what you need to know about these happy hormones and how to increase their levels to give your mood a boost.

How can hormones affect your mood?

Hormones affect your mood by sending messages to your brain. If you go through something stressful, certain hormones will send signals to your brain that can affect the way that you think, the way you remember things, and maybe even how you view and bond with other people.

The same is true when you do things that make you feel good. Hormones like dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin are released. They communicate with your brain and make you feel happy.

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter, meaning that it sends messages to your brain and affects the way you feel and how your body functions. It influences not only your mood but how you learn, move, sleep, and process pain.

Dopamine is part of the reward center of your brain, which gives you feelings of happiness and reinforces your behavior. It is released when you do things that make you feel good, like eat chocolate, have sex, or go shopping.

What is serotonin?

Serotonin is another neurotransmitter hormone that can make you feel happy, satisfied, and optimistic. It helps to prevent or improve depression and can affect your memory, sleep habits, sexuality, and how you respond to stress.

What are endorphins?

There are around 20 different types of endorphins that are released when you feel pain or stress. Endorphins are also released in your body when you do things like exercise, laugh, listen to music, fall in love, or have sex. They can help reduce the amount of pain your body feels and increase your feelings of happiness, confidence, and overall wellbeing.

What is oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a type of hormone that’s made in your pituitary gland. It's often called “the love hormone” because it is released when you fall in love, have sex, give birth, and breastfeed.

Oxytocin helps strengthen your relationships and the bonds you feel. Feeling good about your relationships can boost your overall mood and make you feel happier in general.

How to increase happy hormones

If you’ve been feeling down or your mood needs a little pick me up, there are several ways that you can help pump up your body’s production of happy hormones. Here are six simple things you can do to increase your happiness and hormones:

1. Exercise

Getting regular exercise not only helps strengthen your body but also helps you to reduce stress and releases endorphins that make you feel great. Aerobic exercises like running, tennis, and hiking can help boost your mood along with your heart rate.

2. Eat well

Eating healthy foods fuels your body and can have an impact on the hormones that affect your happiness. Foods like chicken, dairy, avocados, and bananas can help increase your dopamine levels while eating turkey, legumes, and whole grains might help raise your serotonin.

3. Be kind

Being kind to others can not only make them feel good; it can make you feel good, too. Research has shown that acts of kindness like giving gifts, donating to charity, and helping others in need can release dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. A single act of kindness can boost oxytocin levels for several minutes, so make kindness a happy habit.

4. Listen to music

Music can have a powerful impact on your emotions. Have you ever noticed that when you listen to some types of music or hear your favorite song you seem to feel happier? Singing and listening to music can make you feel good by releasing dopamine and oxytocin.

5. Make a furry friend

Pets have been successfully used as therapy for people with many mental health conditions. They can help manage or improve depression, anxiety, and stress. Research shows that petting an animal increases serotonin levels, which makes you feel good.

6. Get intimate

One powerful way to feel good is to spend some sexy time with your partner. When you have sex, your body releases oxytocin, which makes you feel connected to your partner and gives your mood a boost. Intimacy doesn’t have to be sexual, either. Cuddling, hugs, and massages are other ways to increase your oxytocin levels.

QUESTION

Negative emotions are more powerful than positive emotions. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 12/1/2021
References
American Psychological Association: "Hormones and emotion: Stress and beyond."

Cedars Sinai: "The Science of Kindness."

Cleveland Clinic: "Why Giving Is Good for Your Health," "Why Having a Pet Can Boost Your Mood and Keep Your Brain Healthy."

Harvard Health Publishing: "Dopamine: The pathway to pleasure," "Endorphins: The brain's natural pain reliever," "Feel-good hormones: How they affect your mind, mood, and body," "Oxytocin: The love hormone," "Serotonin: The natural mood booster."

Mayo Clinic: "Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress."

National Center for Biotechnology Information: "Happiness & Health: The Biological Factors- Systematic Review Article."

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America: "Dopamine modulates the reward experiences elicited by music."