It is undeniable that life can get you down at the best of times, but right now it is rare to feel your best. Many studies have been conducted about just what causes happiness. More often than not, the solutions magazines come up with are to drink more water and get some more exercise; don’t get me wrong, these are hugely important, but some of the information detailed here in this article may also be helpful to you. 

Firstly, happiness is caused by four principal chemicals in the brain, known as D.O.S.E: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. Basically, dopamine provides motivation, oxytocin is the ‘hugging drug’, serotonin is our pride and endorphins are our response to pain. So, what can you do to get your daily dose of happiness?

I must admit, this sounds a little counter-productive, but a few minutes of physical discomfort a day will release endorphins into your body and cause a feeling of relaxation through your body. This is why many-a-time it is suggested that exercise is the road to happiness. However, this happy feeling can be achieved through such a simple thing as laughter. The discomfort your body feels is from the contraction of the stomach muscles as you laugh, which causes this particular feel-good chemical to be released. Therefore, the more you laugh, the better you’ll feel. So, next time you’re feeling blue, call up a friend and have a good laugh: it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Speaking of friends, this is where oxytocin comes in. No matter if you’re the hugger or the huggee, your body will receive a slow release of this happy chemical, and you’ll feel a reduction in stress and generally feel a little better than you did before. Furthermore, it takes two to share a positive social experience; this means that a shared release of oxytocin can improve your relationships, and gift you with long lasting feelings of calm. Hugs may not be the easiest thing to gain at the moment, however, if you are fortunate enough to be able to get a hug from a person in your bubble, the oxytocin will boost your immune system, and leave you in a better place to face the world.

Dopamine and serotonin are a marriage made in heaven, as one of these wonderful happy chemicals may lead to the other. Dopamine encourages you to achieve your goals; however big or small the goal, the feeling of accomplishment comes with a rush of serotonin. However, serotonin is more of a social chemical than dopamine, meaning this happy feeling is a result of an expression of appreciation from others.

Say, you are in a place right now where you are finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, and even when you do, you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything; write a small message on a post-it-note, and stick it to your bathroom mirror the night before. Something simple, like ‘I’m proud of you!’. This sense of accomplishment will come from your appreciation of yourself, and you will receive the reward of a small rush of serotonin, and voilà, happiness.

To conclude: do your exercise, laugh your heart out and have a good hug every once in a while, but most of all, appreciate yourself. You’ve deserved it.