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Posted 03/08/2022 in Christian Mental Health Tips

How to Increase Happy Brain Chemicals


How to Increase Happy Brain Chemicals

We are learning more and more about what makes us happy.  InHow to increase happy brain chemicals Facebook PostLike this content on Facebook addition to identifying happiness triggers, we can also increase our happy brain chemicals.   When God was creating us, He created us with chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters in our brain that can help us experience happiness.

When we understand how these chemicals work, we can learn how to regulate and adjust them naturally. Before I reveal to you four easy ways to increase these happy brain chemicals, let's look at what they are.

What Are Happy Brain Chemicals?

Simply put, our human brain tells different glands to release dozens of different chemicals into our bloodstream. These chemicals, aka hormones, are involved in various bodily processes. 

There’s a hormone for managing digestion, heart rate, and reproduction. Basically, anything your body does is regulated by one hormone or another.  In addition to regulating different body functions, these brain chemicals also have the ability to make us feel joy, sadness, hunger, or pumped up with energy. They’re usually referred to as ‘feel-good’ or ‘happy’ hormones.

These happy brain chemicals fluctuate throughout the day. This is why you feel lethargic mid-afternoon or excited for an upcoming party you’re attending.

The fours main happiness hormones:

Dopamine ~Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and hormone that plays a key role in the reward system of the brain. Therefore, rewards triggers dopamine (i.e., a promotion at work, meeting a goal, etc.).  Dopamine is linked to feelings of pleasure, as well as memory, learning, and motor system function.

Serotonin ~ Mood, hunger, digestion, learning ability, and memory are all regulated by this hormone (and neurotransmitter).

Oxytocin ~ Is probably the most well know of the happiness hormones. Oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone," is needed for delivery, lactation, and strong parental attachment. 

Relationships can benefit from an increase in oxytocin levels due to its role in building trust and empathy as well as strengthening the bonds of sexual intimacy and intimacy in general.

Endorphins ~ A natural pain reliever, endorphins are produced by your body in reaction to stress or suffering. Reward-producing behaviors, such as eating, exercising, or having sex, can also raise your endorphin levels.

All four of these chemical work together to produce long lasting positive emotions. Check out our review of Stress-Proof Brain  if you want to take a deep dive into how to stress-proof your brain using these hormones and other strategies. How to increase happy brain chemicals Pinterest ImagePin It

5 Ways To Increase Happy Chemicals

The great thing about these happy chemicals is we have power over them. We can either increase or decrease how much of them are released through the choices we make each day.  For example, a poor diet, lack of exposure to nature light and chronic stress all decreases serotonin levels.

Let’s explore how you can take full advantage of these natural happy chemicals of yours.

Find Time To Exercise

Exercising has so many health benefits, including positively impacting our our emotional and mental well-being.

Studies show that when you exercise for at least 20 minutes, your body releases endorphins. The science behind it is that they induce a sense of euphoria. 

Endorphins are the hormones that are responsible for the "‘runner’s high?" However, this "high" is not limited to runners.  Almost any exercise can cause endorphins to be released.  Once they are released, they increase a sense of euphoria, as well as block pain signals. The way endorphins reduce the feelings of pain is by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. As a result, your feeling of pain is considerably reduced.

You can take full advantage of your natural mood stabilizers by exercising outdoors. You’ll get some serotonin production coursing through your veins in addition to endorphins. Plus, working out with a group provides even more benefits than going at it alone.

It is fantastic if you can find a group of friends to exercise with.  However, if all of your friends are too busy to join you in the gym, consider taking a class because social interaction can also increase oxytocin. 

Cook A Meal With A Loved One

Cooking a meal with someone you love can hack all four happy chemicals! Let's tackle this one happy hormone at a time.

First off, there’s the bonding and sharing special time with a loved one. All those emotions send messages to the brain that it is time to begin producing oxytocin, the 'love' hormone.

The wonderful thing about oxytocin is that it is not specific to any certain form of love.  While it is known as the cuddle hormones, it is also released when you are connecting with anyone on an emotional level.

Endorphins and dopamine are released when you consume something delicious. Having someone special to share the meal with just boosts their levels even more. 

Don’t forget to laugh, as well while you are enjoying cooking the meal. Studies show that  laughter is truly ‘the best medicine’ because it triggers endorphin release.

Finally, serotonin is involved. One way to obtain some is by the consumption of specific foods (a.k.a. mood enhancing foods), particularly those that contain  tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is required for survival. It is necessary for health, but your body cannot produce it. As a result, you must seek out foods that contain this amino acid, which the body converts to serotonin.

Consuming prebiotic foods is another excellent strategy to promote healthy gut bacteria. You can regulate your mental and emotional wellness by taking care of your microbiota.

Therefore, eat healthfully and be cheerful. That is all. Isn't that fascinating?

Consider a few foods that contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. Some of them also contain tryptophan, so it's a win-win situation!

  • Wheat and oats
  • Onions and garlic
  • Legumes
  • All types of berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Apples
  • Beetroot
  • Mushrooms

Enjoy The Sunshine

According to  studies, spending 10 to 15 minutes outside can do wonders for our moods. It has the potential to increase the production of not one, but two happy chemicals: endorphins and serotonin. 

What's the reason? Your body absorbs vitamin D from the sun when you're outside. This causes the  enzyme that converts tryptophan to serotonin to be produced. That's awesome!

Not only that, but natural light from the sun stimulates certain areas of our retinas to increase serotonin levels. This phenomenon explains why many people experience  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months when the days are shorter.

Even if it's a little cloudy outside, take a few moments to enjoy being outside. Taking a walk around the block to get some fresh air can do wonders for your mood.

If it's sunny outside, even better. Just remember to bring your sunscreen.

Get Enough Sleep

Everyone knows they need anywhere between  seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, few people recognize the link between sleep and their hormones.

When you don’t get the sleep your body craves, you create an imbalance of chemicals in your body. Dopamine is especially affected, and accordingly, you wreak havoc on your mood. You start suffering from mood swings, lethargy, and lack of focus.

This has an effect on your mental health, and you begin to spiral downward into feelings of despair. It can even result in depression. Not surprisingly, your physical health will begin to deteriorate as well.

To prevent all that, all you have to do is get some quality sleep. Even just a few hours can make a huge difference.

For starters, sleeping can assist you in regaining the balance of happy chemicals that you require to feel good. You'll also be able to better manage stress and improve your concentration.

There are some tricks and tips you can try to get those precious hours of sleep each night.

  • Don’t drink anything with caffeine at least two hours before bedtime
  • Avoid heavy meals several hours before going to bed
  • Turn off all screens an hour before bedtime
  • Reduce the lighting and noise in your bedroom
  • Meditate on God's Word for at least five minutes before bedtime to relax and reduce stress
  • Set up a schedule where you go to bed and get up at the same time, even on weekends

Connect with God

How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading NeuroscientistHow God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading NeuroscientistHow God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist

Connecting with God is another great way to get the mental health benefits of several of these brain chemicals. Specifically, in How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist, Andrew Newberg M.D, revealed that there when we meditate on God's word, anti-stress hormones and neurochemicals are released throughout the body, as well as pleasure-enhancing and depression-decreasing neuro-transmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

Dr. Michale Fegurson also showed that high amounts of dopamine were released through the body, while reading the Bible. Other research shows that feeling close to God, increases Oxytocin.

These studies are just another example of why it is important to spend time connecting with God.

So there you have it.  Five different activities you can engage in that can increase happiness hormones naturally. Take some time to plan a few throughout the course of the coming week. It's also crucial to remember that we're aiming for long-term enjoyment, so participating in an activity once or twice will have little impact on your overall way of life.

Limits on Increasing Your Happy Brain Chemicals

Remember that if you are already suffering from mental illness, addiction, or trauma, the activities listed above may be beneficial; but, they will most likely not be sufficient to address your mental illness or addiction. If you need help with an existing mental illness, seek professional help.  You can search our directory for a qualified provider for a local Christian therapist.

About the Author: 
 A person smiling in front of a brick wall

Description automatically generated with medium confidenceCorine Williams, Ph.D. is Clinical Psychologist that is currently seeing clients in the States of Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. You can find out more about her practice by visiting www.therapyforchristians.com/corinewilliams. In addition to providing individual therapy, Dr. Williams is also passionate about writing books and designing merchandise that educate, uplift, and normalize mental health subject in the Christian community. You can find out more about her at  www.booksbycorine.com or by visiting her amazon profile here:  https://www.amazon.com/Corine-Hyman/e/B00AWZ5FL2

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Disclaimer: the information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are looking for a Christian counselor near you, please check out our directory located here:  Christians Therapist Near Me




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