Natural Hacks for a Happier Brain

Published April 5, 2024

Natural Hacks for a Happier Brain

While some stress is unavoidable, coping with the stress that comes our way is within our power by hacking our brain for better mood!  

There are four brain chemicals that rule our emotional outlook – Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphin – often called by their acronym as the DOSE chemicals.  While the DOSE chemicals (also known as hormones) happen in our brain naturally as part of our daily lives without us ever thinking about them, we can do things to intentionally boost them in ways that will benefit us.  We could call that, A HACK!  

Read on to learn what natural, fun, and pretty easy ways there are to hack your brain for more happiness.  Who doesn’t want a little more of that?

First, here’s a quick explainer graphic about those four brain chemicals, the DOSE chemicals.  What do they each generally do for us (though, there is a lot of overlap, in reality).

And here’s a link to a short YouTube video explainer about why we even have these Happy Brain Chemicals.

Now, what about those hacks to boost those “happy hormones” that we promised?  OK, here you go!

Wait, wait!  But, first, a few important notes:

  • These are simple strategies, and lots of them work on several chemicals at once, but they require continuous practice and repetition..  Those spurts of happy brain chemicals wear away fast. If you watched the video, you know that’s how evolution intends it and you know why.  Hint, hint, go watch it if you haven’t yet.
  • Negative thoughts can counteract the effects of these happy chemicals before they ever have a chance to help, so it can be important to also work on reducing negative thinking patterns, if that is present. Find tips on reducing negative thoughts here.
  • For much more information, you can read our source articles and look for more resources from there.  “The Happy Brain Chemicals That Make You Feel Good” and “How to Hack Your Hormones for a Better Mood

How to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally

  • Meditate regularly (increases dopamine by 65%).
  • Make a daily to-do list & long term goals (each time you tick off a task or goal you increase dopamine levels).
  • Eat foods that are rich in L-Tyrosine (avocados, fish, eggs, cheese, banana, and pumpkin seeds).
  • Exercise regularly (whichever form of exercise you enjoy the most will give you the most increase in dopamine levels).
  • Create something, such as writing, music, art & crafts (“if I create something, I am also creating dopamine”).

How to Increase Oxytocin Levels Naturally

  • Physical touch, cuddling, hugging, making eye contact, and even shaking hands.
  • Socializing (connecting or talking with friends and family reduces cortisol and stimulates your vagus nerve).
  • Touching your pet (research shows it lowers blood pressure).
  • Getting a massage (reduces stress hormones).
  • Acupuncture (elevates oxytocin concentrations).
  • Listening to music (has a calming effect on the brain, slow-tempo music has also been shown to increase oxytocin).
  • Exercise (stimulates the vagus nerve).
  • Cold showers (stimulates the vagus nerve).
  • Meditate.

How to Increase Serotonin Levels Naturally

  • Exercise (increases serotonin and dopamine, but also helps balance them).
  • Cold showers (2-3 mins of cold showers can be unpleasant but offers great benefits that have longer-lasting effects than compared to caffeine).
  • Sunshine (10-15 minutes of sunlight a day can increase serotonin and vitamin D).
  • Eating foods such as banana, eggs, omega-3 fish, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and probiotics.
  • Getting a massage (increases serotonin and decreases cortisol).

How to Increase Endorphin Levels Naturally

  • Laughter and crying.
  • Creating music or art.
  • Eating dark chocolate and spicy foods.
  • Exercise or stretching.
  • High-intensity interval training.
  • Getting a massage.
  • Meditate.

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