Taking breaks is essential to one’s productivity. It allows you to rejuvenate and recharge before taking on another load of work. For all the busy bees out there, taking a pause is something you should do more of as it allows your happy hormones to fire up, allowing you to start on new tasks with renewed vigor.
However, not all ways of resting are ‘effective’ and may leave you feeling more exhausted than before. So the question is, how do you exactly pull off a relaxing time? The answer is to hack your “happy hormones”!
You don’t need to be a psychologist to know that happy people are more motivated and productive. While there are many factors affecting your mood, one of them is your body’s chemicals known as your hormones.
More specifically, your “happy hormones” are dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. These chemicals make you feel good! They can affect your mood, intimacy, productivity, feelings of well-being, trust, and motivation, among other positive feelings.
And if you have low levels of these four major chemicals, it’s easy to feel lonely, stressed, anxious, and lack the motivation to get things done. Luckily, you can increase your odds in the following ways.
1. Take in some sunlight and get out
Sunflowers are not the only ones who need sunshine! Boost your serotonin and endorphin levels by spending at least 15 to 20 minutes outside each day. Have lunch or coffee outside and expose yourself to the sun; if you’re tired of the same old sights, try exploring a new neighborhood or park. (Just don’t forget to apply some sunscreen!)
2. Bond with a friend
What better way to spend your break than catching up with your friends! Sharing jokes and stories with your friends will surely provide your daily dose of happiness. Laughter can help relieve feelings of anxiety or stress and improve low mood by boosting dopamine and endorphin levels.
You can also bond virtually by sharing a funny video or meme and watching a comedy movie together.
3. Go in for the hug
If you find some time to meet up with old friends, rather than just a handshake, go in for the hug. Sometimes referred to as “the cuddle hormone,” your oxytocin will increase when you give someone a hug or experience inter-personal touch.
If you’re working from home and you’re feeling burned out, give your mom or brother a hug for an instant happiness boost.
4. Pet your dog
Of course, cuddling is not only reserved for your human companions! If you have a dog, giving your furry friend some affection is a great way to boost oxytocin levels for both you and your pet. Even if you don’t own one, seeing your favorite dog might also give you an oxytocin boost.
Now call your dog from the other room or ask your friend to bring theirs and give it a good ear scratch or lap cuddle.
5. Do some aromatherapy
Aromatherapies, particularly the euphoric essential oil aromas, have been linked with the production of endorphins. Aside from lavender, you can also try euphoric oils including rosemary, citrus fragrances such as orange, grapefruit, or bergamot, ylang ylang, and frankincense.
6. Get a massage
If you want to relax during your time away from work, then you really can’t go wrong with massage therapy. Massages help in releasing multiple hormones, including endorphins, and increase levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin.
What if you’ve tried a massage before and didn’t like it? Before giving up entirely, you should try visiting other therapists first, as there are many other types to choose from.
You can also get a massage from your partner for some extra oxytocin.
7. Enjoy a nice meal
The enjoyment you get from eating something delicious can trigger the release of dopamine along with endorphins. If you have enough time to prepare a meal, skip the processed ones.
Eating spicy foods and dark chocolate may trigger endorphin release, while yogurt, beans, meats with low-fat content, and almonds are some of the foods linked to dopamine release. You can also get a happy hormone boost with foods containing probiotics, such as yogurt and kimchi.