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The D.O.S.E. of happiness

The D.O.S.E. of happiness

Neuroscience is a combination of two words — ‘neuro’ and ‘science’. It is a theoretical study of our brain and nervous system. This science includes understanding our brain and body — how they function, their co-dependency, their impact on one another, and much more. Neuroscientists study cellular, molecular, functional, behavioural, evolutionary, and computational aspects of the nervous system. Different subjects within neuroscience cover all these aspects, even D.O.S.E.

As we all understand, the brain holds an important position in our lives. The study of the brain is a revolutionary aspect of science which reveals amazing facts. It has certainly piqued my interest, and I find myself captivated by this topic known as “happy hormones”. That’s how I came across D.O.S.E.

I am sure you must be wondering what D.O.S.E. stands for and what it does for us humans. Well, let me explain this in detail. We all understand that hormones are our body’s chemical messengers. They majorly rule our bodies and control how we feel. There are four feel-good hormones in our body: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins — D.O.S.E. Let us understand how each of them works.


As the release of dopamine is triggered by reward-seeking behaviour, it is considered a ‘reward chemical’. Anticipation of an event that can cause happiness releases dopamine. Baking, shopping, sex, and other similar activities release dopamine. Low amounts of dopamine can lead to stiff movements, poor mood, low mental performance, etc. A sufficient amount of dopamine production leads to better learning and attention, desired heart rate, good mood, sound sleep, swift movement, proper kidney functioning, and better pain processing.

Best ways to produce dopamine
Eat food that is rich in proteins and probiotics, and cut down on saturated fats. Chicken, poultry, milk, cheese, yoghurt, avocadoes, bananas, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and soy are few good sources of such nutrients.

Regular exercise is another good way to produce dopamine. Furthermore, getting enough sleep also releases dopamine. Studies indicate that dopamine is released in large amounts in the morning when it’s time to wake up, and levels naturally fall in the evening when it’s time to sleep. However, lack of sleep appears to disrupt this natural rhythm.

Relaxing activities such as listening to good music are also good ways to promote dopamine production. Studies have shown an increase of around 9% in dopamine production when music becomes a part of life. And, when we speak of relaxing activities, we cannot miss meditation.

The practice of clearing your mind, focusing inwards, and letting your thoughts flow is another way to release dopamine. A few studies have shown an increase in dopamine of around 65% for people who meditate. Lastly, ensure you get enough sunlight. Sunlight is a natural mood-boosting element. However, while doing this, please safeguard yourself from UV rays, sunburns, and skin ailments.


Oxytocin is the hormone that helps us bond with our loved ones. It is released through physical touch, music, and exercise. The main function of oxytocin is to facilitate childbirth, and hence the term ‘love hormone’ is used for it. Low levels of oxytocin are known to be associated with symptoms of depression, postpartum depression, anxiety, and lack of bonding.

Best ways to produce oxytocin
Oxytocin production increases by being around your loved ones and enjoying time with friends and pets. All kinds of social engagements lead to the release of oxytocin. Spending time with people you love is a stress buster and boosts your well-being. Physical touch is another element which releases oxytocin. Hugs, cuddles, and snuggles — all help release this hormone.

Needless to say, physical intimacy is the most effective way to release the love hormone. Studies have shown an increase in the release of oxytocin whenever one engages in activities such as caressing, hugging, holding hands, and while experiencing sexual arousal and orgasms. Along similar lines, giving and receiving a massage is a fantastic and therapeutic way to release oxytocin. In a nutshell, skin-to-skin contact is something which stimulates its release.

Just like for dopamine, meditation also works for releasing oxytocin. Acts of kindness and being a giver are also good ways to release the love hormone. Volunteer at an animal shelter, visit an old age home or an orphanage, mentor a young person, or give a gift to someone.


Serotonin is the hormone responsible for making us feel happy. It boosts our mood and at times, gives us a feeling of euphoria. Regular functions of our body that are impacted by serotonin are sleep, breathing, sexuality, stress response, fear, digestion, and body temperature, among others. Consequently, low levels of serotonin are linked with depression.

Best ways to increase serotonin levels
Working out is the best way to release this hormone. Not essentially an intense workout session but something like lifting weights, running, cycling, etc., can help in releasing serotonin. Complex carbohydrates are also a good source to produce amino acids, which further help release serotonin. Vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grains, are great sources of serotonin.


Endorphins are the hormones which are called the ‘natural pain relievers’. These hormones relieve pain and generate a feeling of well-being. There are about 20 different kinds of endorphins. On the other hand, low levels of endorphins can result in body pain, depression, sleep issues, and anxiety. Endorphin levels increase naturally when we feel loved, eat a good meal, have sexual intercourse, and laugh.

Best ways to increase endorphin levels
Exercising at a moderate pace, taking a walk, or practising aerobics or Zumba are the best ways to release endorphins. Acupuncture also triggers the release of endorphins by targeting the exact pressure points. And like it helps many other hormones, meditating by focusing on your breath and calming the mind is also effective for endorphins. Playing music is another fabulous way to release endorphins. Pick up the guitar or bang on those drums and see yourself getting a joyous high. Lastly, but most importantly, laughter is truly the best medicine to release endorphins. There’s nothing better than this practice.

Take care of your D.O.S.E. of happiness

Trying to keep yourself happy is the best way to stimulate your brain to provide you with D.O.S.E. — the dose for a joyous life. These hormones control a major part of a person’s behaviour, lifestyle, relationships, work life, and mental well-being.

Hence, it is genuine advice for all readers to indulge in daily activities that will promote the healthy secretion of these hormones and help you live well. If you look closely, throughout the article a few daily practices have shown up repeatedly. Practices such as meditation, exercise, music, a balanced diet, and smiling have to become a part of your daily routine to ensure a good mental and physical state. These small things create a big impact on D.O.S.E . Start by doing a few or all of these things for a week and observe the changes, if any, in your energy levels or your mental well-being. Notice and rejoice in how cheerful you become.

Sahiba Chadha Vaid

Sahiba Chadha Vaid

A certified life coach, cognitive behaviour therapist, neurolinguistic practitioner, and a motivational speaker, she is the founder of Aesthetic Horizons by S&S. She views life coaching as a way of bringing about a desirable positive change in people and through this, she wants to help people become the best version of themselves.