Happiness boosters to help you make the most of motherhood
Your Happy Chemicals
Bringing a new baby into the world is amazing, surreal and transformative. It brings love, joy, and wonder into our lives like few other experiences can.
But motherhood can also be overwhelming, exhausting, and all consuming. We can love and adore our babies beyond measure, and simultaneously dislike the job of mummy’ing with its steep learning curves, relentlessness and challenges.
Given mums often feel pushed and pulled in so many emotional, physical and logistical directions, its even more important at this time in life to focus on supporting your self-care and your happiness. Because we all know that you cannot pour from an empty cup.
But did you know that happiness is just as much about our life experience as it is also about our brain chemicals? It can be helpful first to know and understand which neurochemicals affect our happiness emotions and sensations:
- Dopamine – the reward chemical that is triggered at the anticipation and receipt of an achievement or reward.
- Oxytocin – the love and trust hormone released through the physical and emotional closeness with another person.
- Serotonin – the mood stabiliser that flows when you feel in control, validated, respected, proud, important, loved, in-tune, or significant in some way.
- Endorphins – the pain killer and pleasure booster that gives you energy to help you power through any situation, released in response to pain, stress and also pleasurable activities.
And now that we have identified them, lets take a look at some practical activities that help to increase these amazing brain chemicals. Start small and keep it simple. Pick those ideas that bring you joy and mix it up each week. Just 10 minutes a day can be enough to yield big results.
- What you eat, how often you hydrate, how you move, and how much and how well you sleep all affect this chemical.
- So take a nap, if and where at all possible! Even a 20 minute power snooze while baby naps is better than nothing.
- Make or buy something delicious and nutritious. Enjoy every mouthful.
- Pick up and read a great book or listen to a stimulating podcast or audiobook. You may want to reach for a fluffy magazine or a mindless comedy show on TV but you can move your energy from the survival brain to higher-functioning levels by doing something intellectual.
- Set yourself a goal to learn something new.
- Celebrate the little wins with your partner and friends.
- Look through old family pictures and actively remember fun times. Include your kids in the fun.
- Journal. Everything from bullet journaling where you write one line about each day to full-on novel-style journal writing.
- Do something nice for someone else. This takes your focus off of yourself. If you see a woman struggling with her own kids, buy her chocolate bar or an iced coffee. Even if she passes it on to someone else, you’ll both feel great.
- Change a broken light bulb; spray some oil on a squeaky hinge; try out a new recipe. The act of solving small problems often can have a big change in your day.
- Get outside and soak in the sunshine and fresh air. Notice the weather and your surroundings.
- Exercise causes a wonderful cascade of these happy hormones that will help get your day back on track. Find out what kind of movement makes you smile.
- Meditation,Yoga and Tai Chi, prayer, or deep breathing can help bring everything into perspective. There are so many free resources online to help you start.
- Sing something. It doesn’t matter if you think your voice is terrible.
- Have a dance party with the kids. Just put on some music and shake! Each child leads for a few moments and everyone else copies their awesome moves.
- Cuddles, kisses, hand holding and skin to skin contact with your baby, your partner or even your pet can stimulate this love drug.
- Play with, noticing, and mirroring your baby not only promotes this love chemical but also strengthens your bond and attachment.
- Notice and feel the texture of your babys’ hair or skin.
- Give and receive compliments to create positive social connection
- Carve out times for you and your partner to connect alone
- Take the family out to the park to play, or for ice cream.
- Laughter is a quick fix to feel better straight away. Laugh at yourself and with others. Watch a comedy at the end of the day to finish on a light note.
- Incorporate comforting and envigorating fragrances into your day, whether its through essential oils, or freshly baked cookies.
- Exercise also increases endorphins and has been shown to have added protection against depression and anxiety.
- And of course who could forget the power of dark chocolate!
You are the ultimate window to how your children will come to view and experience the world around them. And while they are young, they are still learning how to see it and interpret it. What better gift in life to give to your children than your presence and your happiness. They deserve it. But you deserve it even more.