Mental health wellness is a journey, not a destination. There will be days when your mental health is at its lowest and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with one or two tough mental days and don’t let the toxic productivity culture tell you that you don’t deserve to slow down.
When I say that it’s a journey, I also mean that you will need to learn about what works for your mental health. The whole bubble baths and face masks type of self-care is not a one size fits all mental health care. Sometimes, you won’t manage to self-care yourself out of tough realities where other aspects like community care and support are what’s necessary for your mental health.
As you think about mental health care, remember that what you’re chasing is lifestyle wellness; emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Think of it as putting together a system that supports your particular needs and makes life easier, happier, and less daunting. That will be made possible by adopting positive and healthy habits and making them a part of your everyday life.
The problem with temporary solutions to mental health care is that they can only go on for too long before you’re bored or tired of them. But something that is uniquely created for you and by you and seeks to serve you will pull you closer every day to a full and healthy life. Aim to create a life that doesn’t need a constant escaping from – one that feels complete even on a normal day where no big event is happening like going on a vacation or buying something new.
Our mental health care recommendations in this post are different from what you may be used to. They involve taking control of our hormones and stimulating them to produce wellness – something anyone can do from wherever they are.
How to get your daily D.O.S.E of happy chemicals
We can all agree that in the long run what we’re after is happiness. We can’t be happy if we are not well. When we’re happy, our wellbeing is at its optimum. We are more productive and engaged in everyday activities. We look for happiness in different things and even in people but it is ever fleeting. If only we could grasp it or hold onto it – life would always be so great! We’d wake up with smiles on our faces and energy to carry us through.
What if I told you that you have control of how happiness flows in your body? Thanks to science, we now know that there are activities we can do every day to boost our happy hormones. Hormones act as “chemical messengers” in the body and their job is to “transport” information between different bodily organs.
Some hormones act as mood regulators and once stimulated, they elevate how we feel. If we can hack these happy hormones and learn how to stimulate them, we can definitely achieve wellness and great mental health.
To keep your wellbeing flowing, you need a daily D.O.S.E of the following chemicals;
Also called the “happy hormone” – dopamine is what gives us the desire and pleasure to keep doing something because it makes us feel good. It charges the brain’s reward system and is released when we’re experiencing what we find enjoyable. Dopamine is essential to the body’s movement, memory, behavior, attention, mood, and learning. Dopamine deficiency is linked to anxiety, aggression, depression, mood swings, procrastination, low self-esteem, and dependency on unhealthy substances.
How to stimulate dopamine every day:
- • Eat a balanced diet. More proteins, probiotics, and less saturated fats and fried foods.
- • Get enough sleep – at least 8hours and practice healthy sleep hygiene.
- • Exercise regularly even in small quantities like taking walks.
- • Celebrate yourself for every small win. Find joy in the little things.
- • Listen to instrumental or soft music.
Also called the “love hormone” – oxytocin, is the attachment and bonding neurotransmitter we need more of. Biologically, in females, it activates labor, and it helps move sperm in males. It’s released in large quantities during childbirth and nursing. Oxytocin also increases in our bodies during intimate touch like cuddling, holding hands, kissing, sex, and massage. It builds and enhances relationships because of its effects namely; empathy, positive communication, positive relationship memories, fidelity, and trust.
How to stimulate oxytocin every day:
- • Tell people you love about how much you care about them.
- • Pet or stroke your dog or cat.
- • Spend more time with friends and family.
- • Engage in physical touch if you’re comfortable with it.
- • Play with babies.
Also called the “mood stabilizer” – serotonin is responsible for our overall feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and mood – it affects our entire body. 90% of serotonin is produced in the digestive tract
meaning whatever foods we consume affect how its produced. It impacts our moods, how we sleep, eat, and easily digest food, our bone health, the occurrence of blood clots and regulates our sexual desire. Too little serotonin can lead to anxiety, depression, anger issues, panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
How to stimulate serotonin every day:
- • Spend time in the sun especially in the morning during sunrise.
- • Consume more probiotics like yogurt to help balance your gut function.
- • Do some cardio exercises; cycling, running, walking, or swimming.
- • Practice mindfulness and meditation.
- • Get massages.
Also called the “pain killer” hormone – endorphins act as the body’s natural pain relievers as they reduce pain or discomfort and increase pleasure that gives a sense of wellbeing. You may have heard of the good sensations that come after a good workout or even experienced it yourself – that’s the endorphin effect. Exercise has been proven to be a key source of “pain relief” from depression. Endorphins also alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety, boost one’s self-esteem, regulate appetite, and enhance our immune response to pain.
How to stimulate endorphins every day:
- • Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week or 75minutes of intense aerobic exercise a week.
- • Other forms of exercise; dancing, hiking, jogging, swimming, rock climbing.
- • Eat dark chocolate and spicy food.
- • Laugh a lot – be around people who make you laugh and watch funny shows.
- • Practice aromatherapy – the use of sweet scents to improve wellbeing. Run essential oils in a diffuser as you clean, work, or study.
The 5-minute Mental Health Checklist
1. Have I eaten regular and balanced meals?
2. Have I showered?
3. Have I spent time outside in fresh air?
4. Have I connected with someone I love?
5. Have I moved my body today?
6. Have I thought kind thoughts towards myself?
7. Did I get enough sleep last night?
8. Have I done something that makes me happy?
9. Have I drunk enough water?
10. Have I been checking in with my emotions?
Now that you know how to hack your happy chemicals, I urge you to do it every day intentionally to reap their numerous mental health benefits. Your wellbeing matters and you have control over it through your activities. If you need help understanding how to activate these happy hormones, you can reach out to us and we will guide you through it.
Please speak with your health professional before engaging in an exercise program or using any supplements.