Men's Health UK|June 2019
The so-called happy hormone is your body’s in-built mood-improving switch. But securing a regular buzz needn’t mean indulging your more libertine impulses. Use our score sheet to enjoy a healthy high, whenever you want it. Consider it self-care without the scented candles
01 Get a Grip on Your Mood
Skin-on-skin contact is a proven antidepressant: simply holding hands with your partner releases serotonin*, as well as regulating your heart rate. Or, for a more high-octane hormone hit, take up a close-contact sport such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Grappling with your foe will flood your body with stress-relieving chemicals. A chokehold isn’t so different from a cuddle, is it?
02 Live in the Past
The irrepressible popularity of mindfulness meditation might have you convinced that “staying in the moment” is the key to enlightenment. But that, ironically, is old news: San Francisco State University found that nostalgia correlates strongly with life satisfaction and that looking at photos of loved ones will trigger the production of mood-improving hormones. It seems that Facebook Memories might have a purpose, after all.
03 Start a New Pet Project
Not only does man’s best friend provide plenty of fodder for your Instagram feed, but a University of Missouri study found that a #doggo can keep depression on a tight leash. Just a few minutes spent petting a dog releases serotonin, as well as the feel-good “bonding hormone” oxytocin. No pet of your own? Volunteer as a dog-walker and you will enjoy the healthy brainchemical boost that altruism also bestows.
04 Drink in the Scenery
When it comes to pumping up your mental well-being, even the best gyms can’t match the great outdoors. Training in green spaces will brighten your day, but look for blue to really give your brain a lift. A University of Essex study found that waterside training is the best way to improve your mental health. Try a canal-path jog, or, better still, book a holiday.
05 Take the Plunge
Go wild swimming. Cold-water immersion fires up your endorphin production, which in turn gives you a warming hit of serotonin. Plus, just think how good that warm towel will feel.
06 Wait for the Drop
That “chill” you feel at the crescendo of a well-loved song is a sign that your brain is pumping out dopamine, a “reward” neurotransmitter closely linked to serotonin. In fact, a study in Nature Neuroscience found that levels of the chemical rose 9% in those listening to spine-tingling tracks, a phenomenon scientifically referred to as a “musical frisson”. It’s a valid reason to upgrade your sound system.
07 Book Gig Tickets
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