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4 Happiness Chemicals And How To Hack Them

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Happiness Chemicals Image

How we experience life depends on the chemicals in our brains. Whether we are happy or sad, angry or worried, any emotions we feel all can be traced to what’s going on inside our heads. Now that modern science has a pretty good idea of what happiness looks like in our brains we can actually hack into 4 happiness chemicals and improve our life quality significantly! 

Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are four chemicals that are responsible for our happiness. Here are some simple ways to hack into these positive neurochemicals.

Happiness Chemicals

#1: Dopamine

Dopamine happiness hormone image

Also known as the “feel-good” hormone or the “reward chemical”. This hormone (and neurotransmitter) is an important part of your brain’s reward system. Dopamine is associated with pleasurable sensations. It is responsible for learning, memory, motor system function, and more. This chemical motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs. And at the same time, it gives us a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure when we achieve them. If you’re prone to procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of willpower or enthusiasm, it could be linked with low levels of dopamine.

Ways to boost dopamine:
  • completing a task
  • celebrating small wins
  • doing some self-care activities
  • eating food
Tips:
  • Try to find a way to break big goals down into little pieces. This will allow your brain to celebrate when you’ve hit the finish line. Thus you can create a series of little finish lines and it will help to release dopamine.
  • Always create new goals before achieving your current one. That ensures a continual flow for experiencing dopamine.

#2: Serotonin

Serotonin Happiness Chemical Image

Also known as the “mood stabilizer”. This hormone (and neurotransmitter) is responsible for your mood, sleep, digestion, appetite, learning ability, and memory. Serotonin flows when you feel significant or important. When you feel lonely or depressed it can be a signal of absent serotonin. Unhealthy attention-seeking behavior can also be a symptom of serotonin lacking.  

Ways to boost serotonin:
Tips:
  • Spend some time reflecting on your past significant achievements. This will allow your brain to re-live the experience. The thing is our brain doesn’t feel the difference between the real and imagined. Therefore, by just thinking about some positive experience, visualizing the pleasant event or situation, you can help your brain to produce serotonin.
  • Spend some time outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. Our skin absorbs UV rays, which promotes vitamin D and serotonin production.

#3: Oxytocin

Oxytocin hormone image

Also known as the “love hormone”. This hormone helps promote trust, empathy, intimacy, and healthy relationships. Oxytocin is released by men and women during orgasm, and by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding. With physical affection like kissing, cuddling, and sex, oxytocin levels naturally increase. In order to create strong bonds and improved social interactions, we need oxytocin.

Ways to boost oxytocin:
  • kissing
  • cuddling
  • playing with a dog
  • holding hand
  • playing with a baby
  • giving compliments
  • sex
Tips:
  • The most simple way to boost your oxytocin level is to give someone you love a hug. It’s been scientifically proven that inter-personal touch not only raises oxytocin but reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system. For keeping your oxytocin flowing, give at least 8 hugs a day!
  • When someone receives a gift, their oxytocin levels can rise. You can help your loved ones boost their oxytocin levels by simply buying them gifts.

#4: Endorphins

Endorphins happy chemical image

Also known as the “pain killer”. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever. They are released in response to pain and stress and help to alleviate anxiety and depression. Similar to morphine, endorphins act as an analgesic and sedative, diminishing our perception of pain.

Ways to boost endorphins:
Tips:
  • Attending a comedy show or watching a comedy movie will increase your levels of endorphins. The easiest way to boost your endorphin levels is to find things to laugh at during the day.
  • Aromatherapy is great for increasing your endorphins. It’s been noticed that essential oils such as vanilla and lavender increase the production of endorphins.

The Bottom Line

Hormones are chemicals produced by different glands across your body. They travel through your bloodstream, acting as messengers and playing an important part in many bodily processes. Certain hormones are responsible for regulating your mood, promoting positive feelings, including happiness and pleasure. And now you know how you can boost the levels of those happiness chemicals naturally! Get some sunshine, do some exercising, go for a date, laugh, kiss, hug, and always remember to celebrate your little wins!

Healing

Demystifying the 7 Signs of Childhood Trauma In Adulthood

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Signs of Childhood Trauma Image

Childhood trauma arises when we go through overwhelming stress that exceeds our ability to cope during our formative years. It could be the death of a loved one or a pet, rejection by a close friend, or physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Stress generates negative emotions that can distort the way you perceive yourself or others. These incorrect perceptions and shadow emotions linger on into our adult life unless you take steps to heal your inner child. So, what are the signs of childhood trauma? And, what can you do to heal and live a fulfilling adult life? Let’s discuss more below.

Common Signs that You Are Struggling with Childhood Trauma

#1: Dissociative Behavior

A childhood trauma survivor finds lots of things in their environment as triggers to re-experiencing the trauma. For example, the sound of a dog barking may remind you of an abusive parent who kept dogs. That sound will make you disconnect from others as your mind drifts back to the negative memories.

The dissociation and soul loss happen as a subconscious way for the survivor to cope. Mostly, it is those random moments when you are unable to connect to your thoughts, identity, memories, or feelings because, as the brain remembers how you felt, it triggers your body to freeze.

#2: Difficulty Concentrating

Do you find yourself asking those around you to repeat what they tell you? Your poor concentration or short attention span may come from your childhood traumatic experiences. Here, the trauma disrupts attention processes leading to gaps in your memory, blacking out, or difficulty maintaining your train of thought.

In turn, you struggle to keep a job, study, have conversations, or stay in a long-term relationship. Attention impairment can be frustrating. And, those around you may see you as arrogant. Yet, it is your mind crying out to you to deal with the unhealed childhood trauma.

#3: Extreme Desire to Stay in Control

planning image

Are you the type of person who plans for everything? And, do you get frustrated when things don’t go the way you expect? This extreme need for control is an indication of your distrust for yourself and the world in general. It stems from a childhood traumatic experience that left you feeling helpless and vulnerable.

Hence, over the years, you opt to micro-manage every aspect of your life and worry about things beyond your control.

#4: Extreme Fear of Failure

Having a certain degree of fear is healthy. It triggers your survival instincts, pushing you to make choices that get you out of danger. Often, childhood trauma can make you have a negative belief in yourself and internalize your shortcomings.

At this point, you develop unhealthy fear that outweighs your motivation to succeed. You will shy away from opportunities and stop being creative. Plus, it leads to perfectionism and insecurities.

#5: Fear of Success

Are you always holding yourself back from getting something you want? Is it that you fear what will happen once you get it? This fear of success is the fear of losing what you anticipate getting, even before you get it.

If this habit resonates with you, it could be an indication of your repressed childhood trauma. Think of it as a tendency to unconsciously sabotage your chances of success, originating from when a parent put you up for adoption or when you lost a loved one at a young age.

#6: Struggling To Ask for Help

After undergoing any form of mistreatment or abuse, many people struggle to ask for help. These individuals are too afraid to reach out to someone else, hence, preferring to suffer in silence. The fear of rejection, being seen as weak, or denied by those around them makes it impossible for the wounded person to speak out.

#7: Anger and Self-Harm

Do you lash out at people? And, when dealing with an issue, do you prefer isolating yourself from the rest of your family? Unhealed childhood trauma can cause you to become emotional, volatile, and overly sensitive. Further, you may take out the anger on yourself by abusing food, drugs, and alcohol or having suicidal tendencies.

Introspective & Spiritual Practices for Healing from Childhood Trauma

Healing from Childhood Trauma Image

Identifying the above signs of childhood trauma is your first step towards getting the help you need to heal. Next, I share some practices you can pursue in your healing journey: –

#1: Acknowledge and recognize the trauma

Often, we tend to deny a traumatic experience, hoping it will disappear. Yet, it creates shadow emotions that disrupt your lives when we least expect it. Start your healing journey by accepting yourself as a former victim of childhood trauma. Acceptance is not about justifying the trauma. Instead, it is deciding that you want to deal with it.   

#2: Cry

If you are holding onto emotional pain and are struggling with anger or drug abuse, release these suppressed emotions through crying therapy. Emotional tears will soothe you and release feel-good chemicals that improve your moods instantly.

#3: Let go of your victim mentality

Here, you aim to reclaim control of your life by making choices based on who you are today, not your past pain.

#4: Ask for help

Here, you want to connect and share your experiences with other childhood trauma survivors. Build healthy relationships. Nurture healthy habits.

What bad habits do you have as your way to escape from your pain?

Start replacing them with good ones. Start by identifying the triggers. Keep yourself busy all the time. Also, decide on a substitute for the bad habit. Then, hold yourself accountable to a close friend or family member. Note that some habits like alcohol and drug abuse require professional intervention. For this, work with a therapist or your local support group to get the help you need.

#5: Give yourself time to heal

It takes time to let go and replace misconceptions, poor coping mechanisms, and shadow emotions from childhood. Journalize your healing journey and celebrate small wins.

Conclusion

Is childhood trauma holding you back from achieving your full potential? The out-of-control emotions, misconceptions about ourselves and those around us, or poor coping habits that leave us feeling helpless, ashamed, anxious, and depressed. If you recognize the tell-tale signs of childhood trauma in your life, it could be your inner child trying to tell you that all is not well. Then, make a conscious decision to seek help and start your healing journey.

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Yoga

Vayu Mudra: Yogic Remedy for Stress and Anxiety

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In Sanskrit, “Vayu” means air, and in Ayurveda, it refers to the Air element and is associated with the Vata dosha in our body. Therefore, Vayu mudra is designed for balancing the Air element in our bodies. Vayu mudra helps to reduce anxiety and nervousness, boosts immunity, helps to overcome gastric problems, recovers peace of mind, and has many other benefits. In this article, we will introduce you to this powerful mudra, will explain how to practice it, and will share with you the benefits of practicing this mudra.

Read on.

What Is Mudra?

Mudra‘ can be translated as ‘gesture’. Hence mudras are symbolic gestures practiced with the hands and fingers.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, we can activate the meridians and direct energy throughout the body. Different positions of the fingers can close or clear the energy channels. In addition, performing this or that mudra, we affect the biologically active points of the palms and fingers.

Mudras help us to correct the direction of energy in the body, to control prana, and to improve the psycho-emotional state. Also, with their help, we can eliminate problems in the body and the mind by pressing on particular acupuncture points.

What Is Vayu Mudra?

The term Vayu Mudra is originated in Sanskrit: ‘Vayu‘ means Air and ‘Mudra‘ means gesture. Thus, Vayu Mudra is a hand gesture that represents the Air element. By practicing this mudra, we can reduce and balance the Air element in our body.

The Air element in our body is responsible for managing the different types of pain and various mental disorders. Therefore, by practicing Vayu mudra, we can decrease or alleviate problems related to an imbalance of the Air element. Moreover, this mudra also helps in creating a balance within the Nadis (subtle energy channels) to maintains the air influx and efflux.

Each of the fingers has symbolic significance:

The index finger is associated with knowledge, wisdom, and self-confidence. It is connected to our life force.

The thumb is responsible for our ego, will, and logic. Also, this finger is associated with wisdom, mind, and awareness.

Also, it is important to know that each finger is associated with one of the 5 elementsThumb represents the Fire element (Agni). The index finger is associated with the energy of the Air element (Vayu). Hence, when we put the index finger under the thumb in Vayu mudra, we make the Fire element suppress the Air, thus, reduce and balance it.

Fingers Corresponding to the 5 Elements image

Vayu mudra is associated with the Ayurvedic Vata dosha because Vata is associated with the Air element. Thus, this mudra can be helpful for those who suffer from aggravated Vata or who are of the Vata dosha constitution.

Vayu Mudra Benefits

The regular practice of Vayu mudra provides the following benefits:

  • Balances the element of air in the body
  • Reduces the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
  • Helps to overcome gastric problems
  • Reduces anxiety, stress, and nervousness
  • Soothes the mind
  • Helps with arthritis, sciatica, gout, knee pain
  • Relaxes the muscles
  • Stimulates the endocrine glands
  • Helps with pain management
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Recovers peace of mind
  • Supports skin and cartilage

How to Perform?

Mudra practice image

Vayu mudra is one of the easiest mudras to perform. To practice Vayu mudra, follow these simple steps:

  1. Bring your body into a comfortable sitting position (cross-legged position, Padmasana, etc.).
  2. Relax and calm your mind.
  3. Now, place the tip of the index finger inside the base of the thumb.
  4. Then gently press the base of the thumb into the tip of the index finger.
  5. The rest of the fingers should all remain straight.

While performing this mudra, you can repeat mentally or aloud the following affirmation: “I am calm and serene at any time and in any place”.

Perform Vayu mudra daily for 15-20 minutes. Over time, you can increase the time to 45 minutes a day.

Precautions:

  • Stay away from the electronic gadgets and turn them off while you’re practicing the Vayu Mudra.
  • Do not try to overbend your index finger. Also, do not apply big pressure on your index finger by your thumb.
  • Keep your back straight during the practice – this will ease the prana flow.

You can include this mudra into your meditation or pranayama practice for better results.

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Healing

Inner Child Healing Practice: 7 Questions to Ask Your Inner Child

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7 Questions to Ask Your Inner Child Image

Some kids go through a series of events that trigger heavy emotions that they can’t get their heads around. These traumatic events come as a shock, forcing a part of the child’s mind to lock and remain frozen in an immature state. Next, the child grows up acting immaturely or saying things that are not entirely correct. It is almost like another person is talking to them. If you are this grown-up child, you could be dealing with a wounded inner child.

Understanding the Inner Child

The Wounded Inner Child

Note that, we all have an inner child. You know those child-like aspects in our lives. However, it becomes a problem when this inner child makes you behave based on your childhood traumatic experiences. For example, you could be struggling with shame, anger, and fear of abandonment, depending on how your parents scolded you or how your peers bullied you. It is your wounded inner child developing coping mechanisms without you even knowing it.

How Do You Work with Your Inner Child?

Working with the inner child is about locating and healing this wounded child in us. Unlike other healing techniques, the inner child healing practice makes you look at yourself as a child. You take up a parent role and correct misconceptions and unresolved issues that interfere with your lifestyle decisions to date.

Moreover, kids learn by asking lots of questions. Likewise, our healing technique starts by asking the inner child a series of questions about our forgotten dreams, expectations, hopes, and fears. So what are the questions to ask your inner child?

The Dialogue: Re-parenting Yourself

reconnecting with your inner child image

Set aside some quiet time alone. It could be in your study room, besides a campfire in your backyard, or a picnic spot at the park. Set up your relaxing area, then question yourself and give honest answers to these questions: –

#1: What do you wish your parents knew about you?

Did you grow up having poor or no communication with your parents? Were they too strict? If so, what things about you would you wish you could tell them. It could be that you lie only to protect your mom from your abusive dad. And, when you go silent, you don’t mean to be rude. Whatever you hold back against your parents or superiors, now is the time to bring it forth and deal with it.

#2: What gets you excited and happy every morning?

Every child grows up with a passion for what they want to become. Yet, they face adults who discourage them. In turn, the kids end up pursuing careers to fit in and live an average lifestyle. Asking the inner child about their drive evokes those carefree happy feelings kids have.

#3: What would you do if you won a million-dollar jackpot today?

This question helps to bring back your childhood dreams and ambitions. By answering it, you question the things that restrict you from reaching your full potential right now. That way, you can differentiate between actual limits and your fears.

#4: If you were to advise your adult self, what would you tell him or her? What would you want this adult to remember about you?

This question addresses any self-esteem issues you have. It gets you to open up and be honest about how you view yourself vis-à-vis how you would wish those around you see you. The answers help you acknowledge your strengths and accept your flaws. Likewise, you will relate better with your loved ones.

#5: If you were to re-write your life story, how would it read? Who would you want to be the main characters?

If you love storytelling, here is a great chance to look at yourself as an outsider. Rewriting the story of your life takes stock of all your meaningful moments from childhood up to now. Hence, we remind ourselves that we are relevant to our local communities. 

Give this story a theme. Is this the theme you wanted from childhood? If not, divert this story to the person you want to be. Do this by making healthy lifestyle changes.

#6: If you were to relocate, where would you want to live?

Deciding about where you live is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. It reflects where you want to make an impact, start a family, establish a career, and grow old. Yet, many adults feel they are a victim of their bad choices. They feel stuck in jobs they hate, relationships they feel out of love, or communities with unrealistic expectations.

Exploring your relocation options helps you see that you can get out of a rat race or make drastic decisions to start your life afresh.

#7: Where do you see yourself 10 years ago?

Finally, permit yourself to go back in time. Think of a moment a decade ago or at a time just before a traumatic experience. For example, did you lose a loved one in the 9/11 tragedy? Go back to a month before that disaster. How were you?

What choices did you make now that you find hard to make today? If this traumatic experience never took place, how would you see yourself today? This final question assesses the impact of the traumatic events in our current life.

Importance of Inner Child Healing Practice

Questions to Ask Inner Child Image

These questions to ask your inner child helps us reconnect with that frozen, immature part of our brains. It takes us back to that traumatic childhood past, highlighting how it is affecting our adult lives. Next, we come up with remedies to recondition the mind to undo all those biased thoughts about ourselves or life as a whole.

More so, inner child healing practices open up a gateway to long-forgotten possibilities, helping us pick up from when we stopped dreaming or being ambitious.

Conclusion

Inner child healing practice is a technique that permits us to heal from the most difficult childhood scars. This healing journey to wholeness must be at a child-like level. It begins with a series of questions to our inner child to connect with it. Once awake, we can open up possibilities and embrace our talents and creativity that lay dormant all these years.

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