Expert Advice

Ways to Engage Your Feel-Good Hormones

Acella Pharmaceuticals, LLC., is partnering with Heather Procknal, NBC-HWC-CHC, to bring greater awareness to the importance of thyroid care and education. This post is sponsored by Acella Pharmaceuticals and should not be construed as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor about your individual medical situation.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice. Consult a medical professional or healthcare provider before beginning any exercise, fitness, diet, or nutrition routine.

Have you been feeling down or sluggish lately? If the answer is yes, then you might want to consider ways to boost your "feel-good" hormones. We talk a lot about supporting your thyroid health and being aware of your thyroid hormones, but today we're going to dive deeper into the different types of "feel-good" hormones. Plus, we’ll explain how to increase them through various activities.

We'll start by breaking down two different types of hormones.

First, there are “stress hormones” such as epinephrine and cortisol. These hormones aren’t “bad.” They serve a purpose and are necessary for your health. But they can cause you to feel jittery, anxious, angry, sad or moody.

Second, we've got “feel-good” hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. They increase positive emotions such as bliss, joy, love, contentment, determination and focus, to name a few.

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a neurohormone. It has a dual status name because it’s both a neurotransmitter and a hormone. Dopamine fosters motivation, learning and pleasure. It’s also known as the “reward hormone” because it’s part of the brain's reward system.

It works by making us feel happy and motivated to do more of what makes us feel good. Unfortunately, it's a short-acting neurohormone, so feelings of alertness, motivation and happiness don't linger.

Our brains are hard-wired to seek pleasurable behaviors that reward us. That’s why sugar and junk foods can be so addicting. Dopamine courses through our veins when we eat sugary foods, which makes that short-lived “high” you feel after eating a bowl of ice cream a hard cycle to break. Fortunately, there are healthier ways to increase dopamine!

How can you naturally increase dopamine levels?:

1. Make a to-do list and start crossing off each item as you go.
That sense of accomplishment you feel is dopamine giving you positive feedback for your effort! Keep the motivation and momentum going by crossing off a few items each day, no matter how small. Try breaking up your to-do list into smaller tasks, so you get even more satisfaction from each completed task.

2. Complete a few steps of a project.
Is there a task you’ve been avoiding because it feels too big or overwhelming? Start by doing just a few steps of your project and notice how you feel. Are you motivated to keep going, or are you happy with what you've accomplished so far? Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, but once you get through step 1, step 2 feels a lot easier, thanks to dopamine.

3. Meditate or take a moment to be present and mindful.
Meditation and mindfulness can help you feel centered, calm and focused, even if it's only for a few minutes each day. Start with just two minutes and go from there. Find a quiet place to sit and notice what's around you. Use your five senses to take in your surroundings. Focus on just one of your senses at a time for one minute before moving on to the next one. What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you smell? What do you taste?

4. Spend time in natural sunlight every day.
Go outside for a short walk in the morning or enjoy your lunch alfresco! Not only is sunlight great for vitamin D and dopamine production, but it also releases another "feel-good" hormone, serotonin. That’s a WIN-WIN-WIN!

5. Engage in 15 minutes of daily exercise.
If you don't already have a regular exercise routine, start by carving out 15 minutes daily to get your heart rate up. It can be as simple as a walk in your neighborhood, or if you don't have somewhere to walk outside, try walking in your living room while you watch TV. The benefits of exercise are countless. So if you're looking for a mood boost, increased energy and focus, you can't go wrong with a little movement. Research shows that some physical activity is better than none, so don’t let an all-or-nothing mindset stop you from exercising.

6. Listen to your favorite music.
Music can be so therapeutic. It can evoke a wide range of emotions, so pick your favorite jams and let the feel-good hormones flow. If you want to really up the ante, then get up and dance while you listen. With all the streaming music providers available, you’re bound to find a great playlist to boost your mood. Be sure to keep it handy when you need it.

7. Try something new.
Is there a hobby you’ve been curious about trying? Learning a new skill is a great way to boost your sense of self-motivation and accomplishment!

8. Get crafty!
Use your artistic side to draw, paint, build or sculpt, and let your imagination run wild.

What is oxytocin?

Oxytocin is considered to be the “love hormone” because it increases love and trust. This hormone is at an all-time high right after a mother gives birth, which helps the newborn baby and mother bond. It also helps build trust between people and stimulates arousal between mates.

The benefits of oxytocin last longer than dopamine, which promotes longer-lasting positive emotional bonds. The more connected people feel, the safer they feel in different social and emotional settings. This helps with adaptation to stressful situations and can elicit a calm and secure sense of being.

How can you naturally increase oxytocin levels?

1. Play with a pet or cuddle a furry friend and notice how calm and happy you feel.

2. Hold hands with a loved one.

3. Hug or cuddle someone you love. Try extending the hug to a full 30 seconds and notice how your heart rate slows and your breathing gets deeper.

4. Pay someone a genuine compliment.

5. Write a “thank you” note or a “thinking of you” letter to someone you care about.

6. Get a massage. Physical touch is still beneficial even if it comes from someone you don’t love, as long as it feels good and you’ve given consent.

What is serotonin?

Serotonin is known as the “mood stabilizer” hormone. Healthy levels of serotonin can foster a sense of confidence and belonging. It’s also a driving factor in self-improvement and personal growth.

Serotonin helps regulate mood, social behavior, gastrointestinal function, appetite, romantic desire, and sleep.

How can you naturally increase serotonin levels?

1. Exercise - yes, this one again. It helps balance all of the “feel-good” hormones.

2. Spend time in nature.

3. Go outside and enjoy the sunlight.

4. Meditate.

5. Practice yoga.

6. Do some gentle stretching.

7. Eat brain and gut-supporting foods such as bananas, eggs, omega-3 fish, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and fermented foods.

What are endorphins?

Endorphins act as a natural pain killer, hence the nickname “the pain killer” hormone. They also help alleviate anxiety and depression. Extreme exertion and physical distress can bring on a rush of endorphins that some people experience as a “runner's high.” You can also trigger the release of endorphins by eating spicy foods, which is helpful if you’d rather bypass the marathon running.

How can you naturally increase endorphin levels?

1. Smell essential oils such as frankincense, eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender and rosemary.

2. Watch a funny movie and laugh out loud.

3. Get your body moving with some exercise. I bet by now you see a trend here.

4. Have a few squares of pure dark chocolate. Go ahead and treat yourself and let the natural cocoa help your body bask in those feel-good endorphins.

As you can see, there are many ways to increase your levels of happiness hormones. It might be different from person to person, but the trick is to find what feels best to you and start there. Once you figure out how to hack your hormones, you’ll be better prepared when things don’t go your way or when you’re just not feeling as good as you’d like.

Tips for How to Engage Your Feel-Good Hormones


Note that DTE products, including NP Thyroid®, have not been reviewed by the FDA for safety or efficacy.

Important Risk Information

Drugs with thyroid hormone activity, alone or together with other therapeutic agents, have been used for the treatment of obesity. In euthyroid patients, doses within the range of daily hormonal requirements are ineffective for weight reduction. Larger doses may produce serious or even life-threatening manifestations of toxicity, particularly when given in association with sympathomimetic amines such as those used for their anorectic effects.
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NP Thyroid® (thyroid tablets, USP) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat a condition called hypothyroidism from any cause, except for cases of temporary hypothyroidism, which is usually associated with an inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis). It is meant to replace or supplement a hormone that is usually made by your thyroid gland.

NP Thyroid® is also used in the treatment and prevention of normal functioning thyroid goiters, such as thyroid nodules, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multinodular goiter, and in the management of thyroid cancer.
Revised 10/2023