Slow down for a few seconds, tune into your inner experience, and ask yourself:
“How am I feeling right now? Sad, angry, happy, hopeful, excited, anxious…?”
On an average day, we are often so busy focusing on tasks that we don’t pay attention to our emotions. And yet really, our emotions can actually affect our health.
The hormones of emotion
There are 4 major hormones that shape our emotional experience: Endorphins, Serotonin, Dopamine and Oxytocin.
- Endorphins are released when we exercise, or for example when we have a good laugh at a hilarious stand-up comedian. Such emotions; a sense of ease, or enjoyment and happiness, release the ‘happy hormones’.
- Dopamine is often associated with completing a task, big or small. Like when you complete a Sudoku-puzzle, buy a new dress, finish your chores, or finalize a presentation for work. These experiences can trigger a release of Dopamine into your system, making you feel a sense of accomplishment and release.
- Serotonin is a key hormone for stabilizing mood and helping us feel happy. With too little serotonin, we may become depressed. Anti-depressant medication generally helps stabilize serotonin levels.
- Oxytocin is also known as the love-drug. It’s associated with empathy, trust, sexual activity and child-birth.
How emotions affect your health
Your lifestyle affects your hormones. If you are under a lot of stress, don’t sleep enough hours at night, or eat an unhealthy diet; all of these can affect your hormones, affecting your mood and, in turn, affecting your health.
Poor emotional health can lead to a weakened immune system, making us more prone to colds and other infections. Stress can also affect your DNA, leading to a shorter life-span.
What you can do about it
The more happy-hormones your system releases, the better you feel, and the better your health will be. Some easy ways to pay attention to this, include:
- Exercise: Running helps release endorphins, and also improves your general fitness and health. Try the MapMyRun App, or Strava to help track your runs, as well as getting some motivation from other runners.
- Connection with friends: By staying in touch with those close to us, we support the release of endorphins and oxytocin, and our stress-levels decrease. Want to make a few new friends? Why not try the Bumble-app?
- Have you fed your gut-bacteria recently? Fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, yoghurt and kombucha help stimulate the microorganisms in your gut, and they are responsible for 90% of your body’s serotonin. Happy gut = happy hormones = happy body.
Start these 3 simple habits today, to feel better and improve your health!