HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE DOPAMINE, ENDORPHIN, OXYTOCIN AND SEROTONIN?
Do you like to feeeeeeeel goooooood? I often get questions on these feel-good chemicals; how they happen in the brain and how to generate more of them in a healthy way, so that they can support you as you work towards your goals. Watch the video or read the transcript below to learn more.
Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Endorphin. Which one is which? These feel good neurotransmitters are essential for our survival. Wanting to repeat a behaviour that makes us feel good is the source of our motivation. When released in our brain, these good stress chemicals each play a different role.
The selfish chemicals, dopamine and endorphin, give us short term rewards. They help us accomplish and persevere.
Dopamine allows us the ability to focus, set goals and get things done. It is a reward-motivated behaviour generator. We get a feel of the incentive power of dopamine when we make progress. Being able to see our goal or imagine it will send us a feel-good hit that will help us keep going towards achieving it. Hence, the importance of writing down and visualizing our goals. When we do so, dopamine will support us in our journey. If procrastination and self-doubt are present, chunk down your goal into smaller steps and keep track of your progress. Dopamine will reward you along the way and keep you on track.
Known in the fitness industry as "the runner's high", endorphin provides the ability to work hard through hard labour. It gave our ancestors a competitive advantage when hunting their next meal. Without it, they would not have had the stamina necessary to bring back food for their family. Endorphin counteracts our perception of pain. Stress, anxiety or fear can all benefit from the analgesic powers of endorphins. Exercise and laughter are two easy ways to get endorphins. We cannot be afraid and laugh at the same time.
Great short-term boosts and individually activated in our brain without the need of interaction with others, dopamine and endorphin are temporary and can become very addictive.
Cafeine, alcohol, drugs and social medias also contribute to the release of selfish chemicals. Exercising, laughing, chunking down and visualizing our goals are much healthier ways to get our good stresses fix. Now, how do we tap into a longer-lasting state of mind and true confidence?
Although they are not as instant and they take time to build up in our system before we can enjoy their full benefit, the long term selfless chemicals of serotonin and oxytocin will provide a much more fulfilling result.
The social chemical oxytocin helps us form bounds of love, friendship and trust to make relationships stronger. Oxytocin makes inspiring and being inspired possible. Generosity and empathy are relying on oxytocin to do their magic. Without it, the society would be complete chaos; every man for themself and nobody would care about anyone else. Knowing that people around us have our back is the primary generator for self-confidence. It also reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system. It will give us a boost when we are either at the giving or receiving end of a selfless act or even if we are just observing it. Oxytocin keeps us healthy; it opens our mind and biologically, it makes us better problem solvers. Close interaction with others, orgasms, hugs, giving, receiving or witnessing a present or an act of kindness all contribute to releasing a flow of this long lasting amazing feeling.
If you crave sugar, you may have a serotonin deficiency. Instead or reaching for your next sweet fix, reach for a friend! Feeling important, making a difference, being significant, making someone proud or feeling the pride from seeing someone around us accomplish something all contribute to the production of serotonin. Achieving our purpose and feeling that we are doing things not just for ourselves anymore and also for others, create a durable sensation that can counteract loneliness and depression. Exposure to sunlight may also contribute to promote serotonin production. Cultivate relationships, spend time with others and be a friend. Group training, fitness classes, working with a personal trainer or a coach and make them proud all contribute to triggering the happiness neurotransmitters.
The objective is to find balance between the selfish and selfless chemicals. Looking for the next endorphin fix provides us with a great sensation and rewards us with a weekly paycheck. But enriching your life with long-lasting relationships will make you feel great on a more permanent way.