How To Boost Feel Good Hormones Naturally

There is no right or wrong way to feel during your cancer journey. Some days will be more positive than others, remember it is okay to have a bad day, week or month! You will experience many emotions, some of which can affect your health and make side effects from treatment worse, resulting in hindering your quality of life. Depression and anxiety are the most common emotions and can be reduced by simple techniques that boost your feel good hormones. 

What Are Hormones?

Hormones are chemical messengers that use your bloodstream to travel throughout your body to your tissues and organs. Your body houses 50 different types of hormones and they control a number of functions including:

  • Development and growth
  • Metabolism of food items
  • Sexual function and reproductive growth and health
  • Cognitive function and mood
  • Maintenance of body temperature and thirst

What Are Feel Good Hormones?

One group of hormones are nicknamed the "feel-good hormones" because of the happy and, sometimes, euphoric feelings they produce. They're also considered neurotransmitters, which means they carry messages across the spaces between nerve cells. Understanding these chemicals can help improve your life. 

 
Dopamine
Often called the "happy hormone," dopamine results in feelings of well-being. A primary driver of the brain's reward system, it spikes when we experience something pleasurable. 

Serotonin

Dubbed the "feel-good hormone." It is a neurotransmitter that’s involved in many processes throughout your body, from regulating your mood to promoting smooth digestion, and plays a key role in staving off anxiety and depression.

Endorphins

These powerful hormones act as natural pain killers, minimizing discomfort and maximizing pleasure. They're a key reason why athletes can push past pain during a tough race or big game.

Oxytocin

This "love hormone" spikes with any sort of intimate touch, including holding hands and cuddling. 

 

How To Boost These Chemicals:

 Dopamine

  • Eat Lot's of Protein - Dopamine is produced from amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine, both of which can be obtained from protein-rich foods. 
  • Listen to Music - Several brain imaging studies have found that listening to music increases activity in the reward and pleasure areas of the brain, which are rich with dopamine receptors.
  • Get Enough Sleep - When dopamine is released in the brain, it creates feelings of alertness and wakefulness. Studies have shown that dopamine is released in large amounts in the morning when it’s time to wake up and that levels naturally fall in the evening when it’s time to go to sleep. However, lack of sleep appears to disrupt these natural rhythms.

Serotonin

  • Daily Exercise - Exercise has a substantial effect on the brain and body, both in the short and long term. Research suggests that muscle activation during exercise allows more tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin, to cross the blood-brain barrier. 
  • Sunlight - Decreased sun exposure has been associated with a drop in your serotonin levels, which can lead to depression. The light-induced effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that goes in through the eye. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin. 
  • Meditation can help you relax and achieve an inner sense of calm. It may seem difficult if you’ve never tried it before, but anyone can give it a try.
  1. Choose a quiet, comfortable place to sit.
  2. Get comfortable, whether that’s standing, sitting, or lying down.
  3. Let all of your thoughts, positive or negative, rise and pass you by.
  4. As thoughts come up, try not to judge them, cling to them, or push them away. Simply acknowledge them.
  5. Start by doing this for 5 minutes and work your way up to longer sessions over time.

Endorphins

  • Act of Kindness - Doing something kind benefits you as well as the people you help. This may trigger endorphins to release but the boost does not last long. However, the positive feelings you experience can make you want to keep doing kind things for others. 
  • Massage - Massage therapy helps relieve stress and improve symptoms of pain and fatigue. Endorphins are released but also oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin.
  • Take a long, hot bath -  This can help soothe you after a stressful or tiring day. The heat of the water can help relieve tension and pain in your muscles, but it can also trigger the release of endorphins into your blood.

Oxytocin

  • Cuddle a Pet - Research suggests that both dogs and humans see an increase in oxytocin from physical contact, including patting and stroking. That’s why it can feel so comforting to cuddle your animal friend when you feel upset. The oxytocin produced by your interaction helps you feel a little better.
  • Cook and share a meal with someone you love - Preparing a meal with friends or a partner can provide enjoyment in addition to nourishment. You don’t just share the finished meal, you spend time with people you like and bond over its creation. 
  • Sharing your love and affection - The people who mean the most to you can help increase oxytocin in a few ways:

    1. Sharing your feelings with a loved one often leads them to reply in kind.
    2. Telling a friend or partner you love them can prompt a hug, hand squeeze, or kiss.
    3. Letting someone know how much you appreciate them can increase prosocial feelings on both sides.