Your Hormones at Play
It’s official, playing and being playful is good for us. Apart from the fact it feels good while we do it, our bodies are actually wired to love it. Wired by the fact we have hormones in our bodies prepped to respond to our activities, which means the more fun we have and the more playful we are, the happier and healthier we are.
A quick rundown of what hormones are and how they affect our lives… Basically A hormone is a chemical, usually occurring naturally in your body, that makes an organ of your body do something. – thanks Collins English Dictionary
Hormones are essential for every activity of life, including the processes of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood control. There are 4 hormones that ‘spike’ when we play and when these babies come together we feel happier, our stress levels plummet and we feel more alive. You’ve probably heard of them before, so that’s nothing new, but do you know what they actually do when we ‘play’ with them?
Every time we play, endorphins interact with the pleasure and pain receptors in our brain. They can make us feel more positive, energise us and even help to block sources of pain in everyday life, which is great. This means getting into ‘play’ mode can boost our self-esteem and make life look pretty damn good. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to play in adventure sports to get that pleasure... Any type of play and fun will do.
The ‘touchy feely’ hormone – oxytocin helps us create more powerful relationships with others. This means when we hug and play with each other it’s released. Even recognising familiar faces in a group setting might be enough to trigger oxytocin. So being around others and feeling the love really does make us happier.
Dopamine is a powerful feel good hormone that boosts our pleasure and contributes to our feeling of happiness. Not only that, it helps with learning and paying attention; something we all need at some time. This hormone is all about the ‘reward’, so the more we play, the more we want to play which means it’s a natural happy ‘drug’. Oh and it’s free!
Serotonin impacts your mood, ability to sleep, memory and learning. It’s most popularly linked to preventing depression. So… if we engage in play, we can balance the body’s serotonin levels naturally, which then helps to protect us from the impact of stress and negativity.
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