We know God created our bodies as amazingly complex machines capable of handling what we encounter in our daily lives. We also know the best way to keep those machines in good shape is to eat the right things and exercise. But a funny thing happens when we don’t feel right: instead of turning to that amazing machine, we seek the latest medicine to fix us or try to self-medicate with things like alcohol that are ultimately harmful.
There’s a better way to take control of our emotions … and it’s already inside us. Our brains and organs generate powerful chemicals that can improve our mood, reduce pain, and even make us fall deeper in love. All we have to do is learn what they are and which actions cause them to flow through our brains.
For starters, there’s Endorphin. When we’re injured or otherwise experiencing pain, our brains produce endorphins, which are a natural pain killer. It hurts when you stub your toe, but the pain fades within minutes. Why? Endorphins instantly rush in to block the feeling and replace it with a sense of well-being. They’re also the reason working out is often uncomfortable at first but leaves you feeling exhilarated.
Pain isn’t the only thing that triggers your brain to release endorphins. They also appear when you laugh, sing out loud, or participate in exercise. Even a brisk walk can release enough endorphins to relieve the pain or discomfort you feel.
Next is Serotonin, a mood stabilizer. When we get too anxious or upset about something, our brains try to get us back to feeling calmer by flooding us with serotonin. It can soothe and center us. Think of the times you’ve been upset and surprisingly felt better after a few minutes of relaxing. That’s serotonin working its magic. Activities that lead your brain to create more serotonin include praying and meditating, walking in nature, going out into sunlight, and even journaling.
Dopamine is a chemical everyone enjoys, because it’s the brain rewarding us for doing something that makes us happy. Know that warm feeling you get when you complete a difficult project? That’s dopamine. If you like the way it feels, give yourself more tasks to complete, such as by starting a hobby. Taking care of yourself and taking time to celebrate the good things in life generates more dopamine.
The last natural chemical is Oxytocin, which is nicknamed the “love hormone.” No, it’s not a potion you can use to convince someone to fall in love with you. It’s how you feel inside when you experience real love, whether that’s deepening a commitment with a romantic partner or holding your child. Want to have that feeling more often? Your brain will trigger oxytocin when you play with a pet or hug someone you love.
All four of these chemicals can help you feel better, but if you’re fighting to find that “happy place” we all talk about, you may benefit from sitting down with one of our professionals. Why not set a time to sit down with one of us today? We’ll help you learn how to take control of your own emotions.
Jared Jones is one of Care to Change’s therapists. He focuses on helping teens who have faced challenges find the guidance and support needed to become healthy adults. Jared specializes in helping youth who are anxious, depressed, and even suicidal.