Life Coaching · Mindset · Musings

How to be happy (according to Science)

That vision of me being rushed to the ER last year due to panic attacks while at work is still vivid in my memory. I remember telling myself, “what a way to spend the Labor Day!”. I cannot stress enough how mental health is important, and I have had my share of “episodes” to attest.

I remember having myself checked up years ago, and the doctor plainly told me “avoid extreme emotions”. I’ve always found it to be almost impossible, especially that I’m an empath. It sounded like a non-serious problem back then but after that ER incident, I made a pact with myself that moving forward, it is all going to be me first – particularly if my mental health is on the line.

“How to be happy” is one of the most common questions we ask ourselves everytime. I did google this a couple of times, and luckily came upon this article. The ways to be happy are unique to each of us, but on this post, I’d like to explore these strategies backed up by science. While “being happy” is thought of as an emotion, this state is actually caused by chemicals in our brain. I am in no way a medical expert, but I’d like to focus on the four happy hormones (DOSE) which I ensure to stimulate as regularly as I can.

Dopamine. Did you ever feel good when you achieved something? That’s what Dopamine does for us. It’s a “pleasure” hormone and is trigerred when we hit a goal. As much as possible, I set daily and weekly goals. I also regularly check my Excel file of cash flow, travel shedule and bucket list, and see if I’m still on track.

Oxytocin. This is the most intimate of all and a personal favorite. My language of love is touch; therefore, oxytocin-induced activities are a must to me. I love giving and getting hugs and kisses, especially from my son – Juneaue. I feel the same for pats on the back – simple they may look, but they also produce oxytocin. Other than these, I make it a point to spare some budget for bi-weekly massages.

Serotonin. Of these four, this contributed the most to my mental health improvement. Serotonin makes us more pleasant and friendlier, and the lack of it can make us irritable. This paved way to my yoga and meditation journey. I found these to be staple in my daily routine. For me, yoga and meditation are the best me-time moments. I block 30 minutes before my shift to just reflect, have some quiet time, and to re-align. During the day, I allot at least 15 minutes for yoga to maintain my balance – literally and figuratively.

Endorphin. These are our body’s natural painkillers which are triggered when we push ourselves on through physical pains. This hormone actually doesn’t make us feel good, but it makes us feel less bad. What better way to feel pain and push ourselves but by doing stringent exercises? When I was still on a strict work-out schedule, my coach would insist me to do 30-minute cardio exercises every day plus one hour of work out on gym equipment. It is quite tiresome, but I try my best to hit the gym and jog as often as I can.

These are just some of my ways to keep these happy hormones working. I find it amazing how our body functions better when all our body systems get their “work-out”. I may have been focusing too much on relationships (oxytocin), but failing to give equal attention to my goals (dopamine). I may also have been pulling and pushing on the gym (endorphin) but forgetting to give time for mental exercises (serotonin) – hence, the nerve-wracking episodes of panic attacks. That specific incident on May 1 served as a wake-up call, and I’ve never been motivated to maintain a sound mind and a happy heart ever since. Still, seeking professional help is the best way to go as our needs differ from each other.

How about you? Have you ever tried or are you currently undergoing any session or routine? What do you do to stay happy? Feel free to send in your thoughts! ❤️🙏

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