When we talk about psychological difficulties, we tend to focus upon behaviour, thoughts and emotions, and often the interplay between these, however, increasingly, there is strong evidence that neurotransitters have a strong role in mental health conditions including depression and anxiety. The neurotransmitters bind to receptors within the post-synaptic membranes and affect the signal sent across the
We’ve all heard of many of these neurotransmitters as they’ve now become so commonplace in how we all think about our selves and many of them are linked both to psychological conditions and to desirable states. So, it is perhaps interesting to take some of this knowledge and insight from the worlds of psychiatry and neuroscience and apply it to enhancing well-being. These are often simple strategies to help how we think and feel, to raise our energy levels, to bolster our well being, lower our stress levels, and above all increase our happiness. Clearly, human behaviour is intrinsically linked to the interplay between these neurochemicals.
Here are the magic seven neuro-chemicals that we may need to think about.
Cortisol: For all of us, stress needs to be kept low. Our bodies release cortisol when stressed, and it can seriously damage the body in the long run. As we age, we become more sensitive to cortisol.
GABA: this is usually inhibitory and plays a role in inhibiting anxiety producing signals. Though we are often tested with anxiety-provoking situations, our body reacts to these, and it is vital that we control how we manage anxiety.
Oxytocin : Sometimes known as the cuddle hormone, we release oxytocin when engaged in touch. Hugs, kisses, really anything that involves touch, including holding hands, walking arm in arm, and touching a shoulder. When levels are high, it gives a sensation of warmth and trust.
Dopamine: This neurochemical is released any time we encounter something new and is associated with reward inducing brain mechanisms. It could be a new hobby, hearing a new song, watching a new movie, or even a new group of friends. Essentially, it is our brain’s way of rewarding us when we discover something.
Endorphins: Endorphins are released in response to physical activity/exercise. This is the neurochemical that is responsible for the “runner’s high.” We will release these whether we are engaging in mild or vigorous exercise.
Serotonin: Serotonin is a mood regulator and is produced when you help or bond with others, and when you feel pleased with something you have done. Serotonin comes from being connected to something beyond ourselves, and it is produced when you feel confident (in life or work).
Acetylcholine: this chemical plays an important role in quality REM sleep meaning that we are fully rested, relaxed and reinvigorated.
As we all know and experience, we all need recalibration so that we can ensure that these chemicals in our body are maintained in a manageable way so as not to jeopardise our wellbeing. We may need to do our own self-evaluative check on ourselves to see where things are in order to help us prepare for whatever we’re exposed to in our every day lives.
My chemical rebalancing tips for these seven neurochemicals are below
a) managing Cortisol by reducing your stress levels whetther this is at home, work or in relationships
b) increasing GABA by reducing anxiety through engaging in more relaxation and calming activities.
c) boosting Oxytocin by allowing yourselves to engage in relationships physically through hugging, kissing and physical contact.
d) increasing Dopamine by breaking out of the routine and taking on more novel experiences which we may even reward ourselves for.
e) releasing Endorphins through physical activity and exertion.
f) elevating your Serotonin through any any positive bonding and affiliative activity whether this is with friends or doing things for others.
g) increasing Acetylcholine through resting and ensuring you have good sleep hygiene.
We all sometimes need to recalibrate if things fall out of synch whilst leading busy lives.
Through mindfulness, hypnotherapy and some general therapeutic exercises and tips, one’s life can be changed and enhanced. Please get in touch and if you make an appointment before the end of April, the session is half price