The hormones & DO YOUby authorised psychologist Marie Brixtofte
The hormones & DO YOU
DO YOU. The world’s greatest movement. Or is it perhaps a concept or a way of living. If it is, it must be the most revolutionising concept or the world’s most important way of living.
To take care of yourself, to “do me”, or to “do me, first” (which it also means) – instead of doing everyone else, is by far one of the most important things we can do. It gives you a feeling of self-worth, it makes us feel less lonely and it gives us a best friend for life: ourselves! I have previously written an article about all this, called “the psychology behind DO YOU”
I forgot about biology
But I forgot to mention how important DO YOU is for our biology. Humans are 98.8% identical with chimpanzees, and that is important to remember, because it reminds us that we are nothing more than sophisticated animals. We are organisms reacting to stimuli. We are controlled by our urge for surviving, which is based on our ancestors urge for surviving. And all that is controlled by hormones.
The word “hormone” is Greek and means “to wake”, which is precisely what hormones do, and this is how they can control your sleep, your appetite, and your mood, amongst many other things.
And it will get nerdy now, so hold on tight: Hormones are signalling molecules, which sends messages to different parts of our body. Hormones function therefore as a kind of chemical messengers, which are secreted from the glands of the body and are transported around in the body in the bloodstream and instructs cells to perform certain tasks. The word “hormone” is Greek and means “to wake”, which is precisely what hormones do, and this is how they can control your sleep, your appetite, and your mood, amongst many other things. If you are a woman, you might have noticed that around 9 days after the first day of your period, that you will become more extrovert, creative and productive and/or your get more sexual fantasies and a larger desire for sex. This happens because the hormone estradiol rises, which in turn makes the hormone lutropin to surge, and which then ensures that ovulation takes place around mid-cycle. Studies show that in the days leading up to ovulation, the hormones change our voice, skin tone and scent, and we generally start dressing more provocatively and we flirt more. Studies show that men react to all these subtle changes, finds us more attractive and get a larger appetite for sex. It all makes sense from an evolutionary perspective because it ensures that our chances for passing on our genes increases. Remember we are just sophisticated chimpanzees.
When we do something good for ourselves (DO YOU) we can affect our brain with 4 very powerful hormones.
What has it got to do with DO YOU?
I love the English concept DIY, which means ‘do it yourself’. And this is precisely my point: Not everyone needs medicine against stress. We don’t need to feel down, anxious and lonely. The point is that we can do it ourselves, because we have the ability to affect our hormones. When we do something good for ourselves (DO YOU) we can affect our brain with 4 very powerful hormones:
Dopamine (Reward-hormone): The hormone is secreted when we complete a task, celebrate our small victories, eat a nice meal, when we exercise, laugh, listen to music, have sex or when we take time to ourselves. Small dosages give a sense of wellbeing, larger dosages give a sense of joy and even larger dosages a feeling of happiness and fulfilment. Dopamine is also secreted from intake of cocaine and when ludomaniacs gamble, but we do not need the drugs or the high because we can active dopamine just by being good to ourselves.
Endorphins (Painkiller): Secreted when we exercise or when we have sex, when we laugh, read a good book or when we are kind to others. Endorphins are the body’s own painkillers and work similarly to morphine. It gives a sense of wellbeing, surplus and energy and can therefore be used strategically in treating depression and anxiety.
Oxytocin (Love-hormone): Secreted every time you do something good for yourself. It is secreted when you give or receive compliments, when you do cosy activities with people you care about (for example play a board game), at prolonged eye contact, when you orgasm and when touched, especially when touched at the earlobes or nipples. Because oxytocin is released by all senses of touch, it is even secreted when you stroke and caress your own arm. Oxytocin blocks the stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin and enhances our attachment to others (and to ourselves), as well as gives us a sense of happiness and contentment. Therefore, it makes us less anxious, stressed, and lonely, and happier and more loving.
Serotonin (Happiness-hormone): Secreted when eating protein-based food as well as oats and chocolate, and by making sure we have enough B-vitamins in our body, especially B6 and B12. It is secreted when we are exposed to sunlight, when we spend time in nature and get soil under our nails, when we meditate and when we exercise. Serotonin has a positive influence on our appetite (especially our desire for bad carbohydrates), digestion, regulation of body temperature, sleep pattern, mood, emotions (especially happiness) and memory.
By being good to ourselves, we can directly affect the chemistry of the brain, which in turn affects our emotions in a positive direction. And that is quite addictive.