Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins, and Oxytocin are collectively and commonly known as Happy Hormones. They make us feel good. In part 4 of our Blog Series on the benefits of Maintenance Massage, we are going to explore the connection between these happy feelings and massage.
Hormones are chemicals that are produced by our glands and travel through our bloodstream. They act as messengers (neurotransmitters) and play a role in many processes within our body. One of the main roles that hormones have is to maintain or regulate our mood and decrease our stressful fight-or-flight response, basically calm down our central nervous system (CNS). ‘Happy hormones’ promote a feeling of happiness and pleasure, a lack of these hormones can make us feel unsettled, upset or depressed. Let's look at each of these chemicals;
Dopamine is considered the “feel-good” chemical, it is an important hormone and neurotransmitter that helps our brain feel a sense of reward. It can be associated with a sense of pleasure, and also helps our learning, memory, and motor function systems. When we achieve something that we are proud of, Dopamine is released. This helps reaffirm the learning of achievement as a positive.
Serotonin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that can help regulate our mood and also help with our sleeping patterns, appetite, digestive system, memory, and learning.
Endorphins are our natural pain reliever that our body produces during stressful or uncomfortable situations. They are also released during pleasurable activities like eating, exercise, or even sex.
Eating a small amount of dark chocolate can encourage the production of endorphins.
Oxytocin is also known as the “love hormone”. It helps promote a sense of trust, empathy, and bonding within our relationships.
4 ways to naturally release your Happy Hormones;
Spending time outdoors in the sunlight! Research has found that being in the sunlight can help the production of serotonin and endorphins.
Exercising can release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine
Cooking your favourite meal! This can help produce dopamine and endorphins. Sharing your favourite meal with someone else can help produce oxytocin, improving our sense of bonding with the people around us.
Receiving a massage can naturally release all these happy hormones, making you feel much lighter and calmer. Massage has been found to help with anxiety, depression, and even insomnia.
How does Massage help release Happy Hormones?
The power of touch! When we receive a massage, physical touch stimulates our nervous system to release these chemicals to give us a sense of relaxation, calmness, well-being and also acts as a natural painkiller and mood elevators. This is why you may feel a bit floaty and lightheaded when you come out of a massage. This release helps regulate our mood and stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, making us feel relaxed and calm. For these reasons, massage has been found to support people who face anxiety, chronic stress, insomnia, and depression.
The release of the happy hormones not only helps with regulating our mood and making us feel happier but it also has a positive effect on our circulation, immune and nervous systems! Research has shown that endorphins can speed up the process of lymphatic circulation, which helps with removing unwanted waste products within our body. Leading to a stronger immune system due to the increased lymph (white blood cells) circulating throughout our body, protecting us from bacteria, viruses, or infections.