General HealthImportant ConceptsJust Posted


We think of the holiday season as a “feel-good” time of the year. I look forward to November and December. But sometimes it’s a little like looking forward to a roller coaster ride. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved riding roller coasters. As a taller-than-average child, my parents were able to lie about my age so I could ride with them on the wooden roller coaster at Coney Island; the Cyclone. Despite hearing desperate screams echoing and whipping around the structure, I couldn’t wait to get on. I was not disappointed. Yet, every time I stand in line for a ride on a roller coaster, there is that strange dread. Should I just step out of line? Why am I doing this? Then the clickety-click up the leading side. And finally, the lingering pause at the top. Now, the part I’ve been waiting for! It’s dreadful and exhilarating at the same time.

Sometimes, the holidays can be just like that. So much to do to prepare, mixed in with the usual complexities of life as we know it. Despite the potential joy of the holidays, things still break, people get sick, the Wi-fi stops working. And then, there’s the weather. Where was all this rain last summer, when we needed it? Oh, you’ve got a foot of snow already? Sorry.

In the middle of shopping, cleaning, decorating and prepping for celebration, I encourage you to take the time to stimulate the production of your happy hormones; dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins.

Smile: Do things guaranteed to make you smile; pet a furry critter, read a funny book or article, watch a funny movie or video, or visit a funny person.  Monty Python and the Holy Grail always makes me laugh. Heck, just saying, “The Grrrrail,” like Tim says it, makes me smile right now. Happy hormones released.

Sunlight: Sunlight is good. Get a little more of it. We’ve been indoctrinated with anti-sunlight dogma for a long time. We need sunlight.

Exercise: Just taking a walk outside will result in production of more happy hormones. Exercise of any kind results in release of the happy hormones. Some of my patients couldn’t take a walk. Then sit outside in the sun. Don’t get a sunburn, but sometimes don’t completely block those rays with hats, clothing and sunscreen.

Spend time with an animal. Even watching animal videos will make you smile. But if you have an animal, spend some quality time with it. There is no doubt our pets make us happy. Spicy Cat puts smiles on our faces all day, which otherwise might not be there if we didn’t have him. Tell me you didn’t smile when you saw his picture. To this end, I have created a new Instagram account, introducing SpicyCat @myspicycat1. Go have a look. Guaranteed to make you release some happy hormones.

Learn a foreign language via a constant reward system, which stimulates d

opamine. Try Duolingo. Spanish is a relatively easy language to learn. It’s soft on the ear. I feel so good when I finish a little course and get my “reward.” Learning and accomplishing new things is good for us.

Bake something. Then eat some of it. Share some too.

Sleep. Most of us don’t get enough. I’ve written a few blog posts in the past on this. One was on the creative use of pillows to help you sleep better. Pillows are good.

Hugs. Get a hug. Give a hug.

There’s kind of a fine line between doing something that makes us smile, and doing it to the point of obsession, frustration and even failure. That would have the opposite effect to the one we hope to achieve. Tell me you’ve never done that. I do it all the time! I guess you could have too many pillows.

Don’t wait for the New Year to begin the flow of happy hormones. Now is as good as any to get started. It might feel a little like that last curve at the end of the roller coaster ride, as it’s coming into the platform. Everyone smiling. Guffawing. Comparing experiences. Juiced up and ready for the next ride!

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