By: Ashish Kumar (L&T MHPS Boilers)
We’ve all heard of hormones. These are the chemicals released from endocrine glands in our bodies into the blood stream or as neurotransmitters which transport important signals and messages to distant cells and organs for regulating biological processes.
We tend to think of them as innocuous bodily chemicals involved in performing random tasks and we generally don’t bother to know about them in detail. But these same unique chemicals can wreak havoc on the body if allowed to misbalance. And at the same time, can make you a happier and content person if managed properly.
Hormones can affect us in more number of ways than we can imagine. In fact, one or the other hormone is responsible for every physiological or psychological change you are undergoing at any given time irrespective of age or gender. These wonder chemicals can be very important and powerful when it comes to maintaining optimum health.
Although there are various types of hormones released in our body from different glands like pituitary gland, adrenal gland and thyroid gland and all of these are important for our well-being, this article discusses some particular ones responsible for psychological effects on our brain.
That bad mood or the inevitable cycle of low feeling on some days surprisingly has direct relation to the level of these cell messengers known as hormones. The hormones that cause us to be happy and ecstatic are collectively termed as Angel’s cocktail and the ones causing stress, anxiety and fear are known as devil’s cocktail. Let’s see in some detail the main constituents of both these cocktails, how they affect us and how can we control their levels to experience ecstasy and avoid stress.
Probably you have noticed it. There is a sudden feeling of euphoria and bliss while watching a movie, reading a book or after a strenuous workout. These are the four Angel’s cocktail hormones released in our brains that are at play. They cause happiness and ecstasy in different situations. High levels of these hormones and actions those trigger the release are desirable. Here are the four wonder chemicals and a little description about them.
- Endorphins: These are also called ‘Rock star’ hormones. They act to reduce our perception of pain and act similar to the drug ‘Morphine’. This helps alleviate the stress and pain during exercise and gives that feeling of satisfaction after exhaustion from exercise. That is one of the reasons why a long distance runner or cyclist is able to focus on his/her training and enjoy their regime, a phenomenon called as ‘Runner’s high”. It’s the Endorphin rush in the body which keeps them going. It helps recover from injuries and improve immunity at the same time. Humor and laughter also helps the release of Endorphin which is the reason doctors recommend you to laugh out loud.
- Dopamine: This is also called ‘Feel Good’ hormone which keeps us motivated and we really like what we do when dopamine levels are high. That explains why we feel happy when our investment pays good return, we meet our targets at work, catch the train in time and have our favorite dessert. It all encourages dopamine production and release. Drugs like Marijuana also make your brain release dopamine make folks addicted to the overdose. Luckily enough, our body do not get addicted to the naturally available dopamine in the body.
- Oxytocin: This is also called ‘Bonding” hormone which helps create strong bonds, trust and relationships with people around you. It’s released in high amounts when a mother breast feeds her child leading to strong bonding between them. This is also the reason for strong bond between couples/partners involved in sexual activity as oxytocin is released during orgasm. Another example is, you tend to get closer to people with good sense of humor, because humor is conducive for oxytocin production and you are highly likely to connect with people who you feel are funny.
- Serotonin: These hormones make you ‘Feel important’. There is a critical role of Serotonin in how we live our lives. We can keep our serotonin levels up by practice of acknowledging / remembering past successes, happy memories and being generous to people around you. People with high suicidal tendency, or folks involved in anti-social activities have a deficiency of this Neuro-transmitter in their blood. Eating bananas and getting out in the sun also helps release serotonin. This hormone is also very essential for a good night sleep.
Her is how you can get a rush of these wonder-drugs in your body and be happy:
- Exercise: Regular physical exercise is known to stimulate the pain receptors and releases endorphins. That is the reason for good feeling after finishing a hard workout. So, get that ‘Runner’s high’ if you can.
- Balanced Diet: All the hormones are generated in the body using nutrients that you eat in your diet. Especially the steroid hormones which are produced in your liver are generated using the cholesterol and other nutrients from food. So, miss the balanced diet for a few days, and you are up for some foul mood and low energy.
- Spend time with Friends: Making time with people whom you trust helps release oxytocin and you naturally feel good and cared for. It normally happens that if we spend a weekend alone doing nothing, we are rested but still drained and stressed. That is because the distance from our loved ones make us anxious, guilty and stressed.
- Hug somebody: It’s the Oxytocin bonus again! Be more frequent to hug those near and dear to you. A hug is always magical whether from your romantic partner, parent, sibling or the friend you deeply trust. One hug is all it takes to get the Neuro-transmitters fired up. So, hold tight and spread love.
- Have some outdoor time: Getting out in the sun make the Serotonin levels high. Also, the vitamin – D dose gives a push to your immunity. So, don’t miss the opportunity you get to hit the tanning bed.