Happy brain chemistry DOSE: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Endorphins
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a biochemical molecule that allows communication with the nervous system. It is called the feel good hormone because it triggers pleasure, which activates the reward and reinforcement system.
Having a glass of wine after a stressful day at work? Dopamine! Cleaning out the garage or spice cabinet? Dopamine! A little ice cream because it's the weekend? Getting 25 likes on your post? Dopamine, dopamine, dopamine! By the way, technological distractions have created a real addiction to dopamine, but that's another story.
Dopamine is so strong and sought after, it is indeed involved in addictions like alcoholism and gambling. People with high levels of dopamine are more likely to pursue so-called "risky" behaviors or to seek out new and exciting situations.
But dopamine is a good thing, because it is central to motivation, the desire to learn, pleasure and even memory and the motor system function. Without dopamine, you may experience low energy, low self-esteem, anxiety and apathy. Here are some ideas for boosting your dopamine in a balanced way:
Complete a task (no matter how small)
Eating and drinking healthily (certain foods are linked to dopamine like eggs, almonds, yogurt, green tea)
Take care of yourself (self-care)
Listening to music
Getting adequate sleep
And yes, creating is great for boosting your dopamine. So is completing a project, because dopamine is intrinsically linked to the notion of completing a task. Imagine completing a creative project! Dopamine!
So these are healthy alternatives to stimulate your dopamine production and get that feel-good feeling we crave so much.
In the next entry, I will talk about oxytocin, the love hormone!