Happiness Hormones

Hormones. Synonymous with weight gain, hot flashes, puberty…. ugh! But hormones aren’t all bad. Happily, we have the Big 4- Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Endorphins!  These famous hormones are known for their ability to help us bond, feel joy, experience pleasure and love.

The Big 4 are essential to good mental health. (There are others as well, but that’s for another day). You can improve your mental health by doing things to activate these powerful chemicals and I encourage you to find ways to include these ideas into your daily routine.


How to activate the Big 4

Dopamine– the reward hormone. Dopamine is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more.

  • complete a task
  • exercise
  • eat nutritious food (yogurt, beans, eggs, meats with low-fat content, and almonds are a few foods linked to dopamine release)
  • laugh
  • sleep 7-9 hours
  • have a massage


Oxytocin– the love hormone. Oxytocin is essential for childbirth, breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding. This hormone can also help promote trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships, and oxytocin levels generally increase with physical affection like kissing, cuddling, and sex.

  • play with a dog
  • play with a baby
  • hold hands
  • hug someone
  • give someone a compliment
  • have a romantic dinner


Serotonin– the mood stabilizer. Serotonin helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.

  • meditate
  • run or swim
  • be in the sun
  • walk in nature
  • drink green tea
  • eat dinner with your loved ones (foods high in tryptophan have been linked to increased serotonin levels)


Endorphin– the pain reliever. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever, which your body produces in response to stress or discomfort. Endorphin levels also tend to increase when you engage in reward-producing activities, such as eating, working out, or having sex.

  • watch funny movies or videos
  • spend time outside
  • eat good food (spicy food may trigger endorphin release)
  • run
  • essential oils
  • listen to music, sing or dance


Need help improving your mental health? Contact me today (its the first thing on the list to increase dopamine- complete a task! ha!)


Love yourself, you deserve it!

Tina Gray-Siebers, MS, LPC, CCATP