Let’s talk about laughter yoga and D.O.S.E! When it comes to the brain, neuroscience, the nervous system, and feel-good chemicals and hormones, there are four key players.
All of these chemicals and hormones play different roles in making us feel good inside. Now, take the first letter of each of these items on the list, and what do we get? A D.O.S.E of happy medicine! Indulge me, and allow me to science-geek out for a moment while we take a closer look at each of these, what they do, and some different ways of increasing the amount of them that our bodies produce.
- Dopamine: This neurotransmitter is a chemical that is associated with the pleasure centers of our brains. The body releases it when we do something that gives us pleasure, and we feel delight, contentment, and gratitude when it is released. For example, if you eat one of your favorite foods or when you are close with someone you love. Some ways to naturally increase the amount of dopamine the body produces are LAUGHING, practicing mindfulness, being kind, exercise, and getting enough sleep.
- Oxytocin: The hypothalamus is responsible for producing this peptide hormone that is often called the “love hormone”, “cuddle hormone”, or “bonding hormone”. As its nicknames imply, it is responsible for social bonding and feelings of closeness with loved ones. It also helps to soothe aches and pain, reduce stress, ease the “fight or flight” response, and increase resiliency. When the body produces it, we get feelings of calmness, safety, joy, compassion, and empathy. To increase oxytocin produced by the body, we can do such things as LAUGH, hug a loved one, make eye contact with people, donate gifts or our time to others, cuddle a pet, gently exercise, or do meditations centered around love.
- Serotonin: This happy little neurotransmitter is a huge contributor to our overall feelings of well-being and happiness. It is also a heavy-hitter in keeping our mood and emotions balanced and in check. Creating and maintaining sufficient levels of serotonin in the body allows us to feel joyful, calm, and balanced. It also counteracts and wards off depression, aids in healthy digestion and other bodily functions, reduces pain levels in the body, and balances our energy. Studies have shown that serotonin levels produced by the body can be naturally and gently increased by various means such as LAUGHING, spending time outdoors in the sun, and exercise.
- Endorphins: Endorphins are an extremely important type of opiate-peptide hormones, in that they are largely responsible for boosting our happiness, making us feel good, increasing our mental focus, and giving us a general sense of well-being. These guys come from the pituitary gland, and we can encourage our bodies to produce more of them through things such as learning new skills, social connections, and spending time out in nature. When it comes to encouraging the release of endorphins, one of the most effective methods is…you guessed it…LAUGHTER!
I don’t know if you picked up on the pattern here, but if not, that’s okay, I’ll point it out! At the top of every single one of these lists of ways to increase and encourage the release of all of these feel-good chemicals in our bodies, is LAUGHING!!! No wonder we feel such a boost after a laughter yoga session – we increase each and every one of these happy and healing chemicals within us, and in turn, we experience all of the health benefits that each of them provide.
All of this highlights the fact that not only is laughter yoga a fun way to train and rewire the brain towards love and positivity, but it also has proven scientific health benefits that have transformative and healing properties. If you haven’t tried laughter yoga, I encourage you to get a daily D.O.S.E. of happy medicine by giving a session a try. Make laughter a regular occurrence throughout your day, and you will begin to see the benefits of each of these happy chemicals within you and around you.
If you are looking for a pick me up today, please check out my videos and follow along! If you want more or are looking for a “live” experience, please check out my Zoom sessions (coming soon). Sending love and laughter to all of you!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor a medical professional. The information presented on this site is for educational purposes only. One should always consult with their doctor or medical professional before taking on any sort of new exercise program.