Your health and happiness are linked in complex and direct ways. You are probably already aware that thyroid disease can have side effects like depression, mood swings, and brain fog, but what you may not know is that actively cultivating happiness can be an important healing tool.
Serotonin, happiness, and gut feelings
Ever had a “gut feeling,” a “sinking feeling in your stomach” or “butterflies” because you were excited? There’s a reason we locate those feelings in our digestive tract.
In fact, 90 percent of serotonin—an important neurochemical that is believed to be responsible for happiness—is produced in your gut, not in your brain!
And I bet you can guess what I’m going to say next: If your gut isn’t healthy, your brain and happiness aren’t healthy either. Serotonin is related to:
- Ability to learn
- Impulse control
- Sexual desire
- Social behavior
- Endocrine system (hormones—hello!)
Any of that sounding familiar? It should, because many of those symptoms are associated with thyroid disorder.
In short: If your gut isn’t healthy, your brain isn’t healthy, and your happiness level drops.
Something to laugh about: laughter produces serotonin.
The good news is that even if you’re still on your journey to healing your gut, you can help your body produce more serotonin by doing one easy, fun activity every day:
Laughter has been clinically shown to instantly decrease the levels of stress hormones, including cortisol, and increase the production of serotonin.
That can mean less stress, less depression, more energy and easier sleep. In fact, laughter has even been shown to reduce the severity of pain and help people tolerate and cope with pain better.
Bring more laughter into your life
When you’re sick, it’s hard to find something to laugh about, but it could be the best thing you can do for yourself. The next time you’re feeling down, try one of these suggestions—or better yet, work some of them into your daily and weekly self-care routine.
- Watch a funny movie or TV show. YouTube is perfect for this! I love the Kids React series. Anything from Jimmy Fallon works. Or look up your favorite comedian. (I laugh so hard at this bit from Jim Gaffigan! Warning: a little potty humor or this bit from Louis CK Warning: a little potty mouth on this one!)
- Go to a comedy club on a date night or with friends.
- Read the Sunday comics. Or web comics! Discover something new. You’ll laugh so hard you cry at the archives of Hyperbole and a Half, like this one about moving with dogs.
- Spend time with your funniest friends.
- Share a good joke or a funny story. You can even sign up to get jokes via email if you’re one of the few who doesn’t have a relative who compulsively forwards funny emails.
- Head to your bookstore’s humor section, or read the funny stories in Reader’s Digest.
- Host game night with friends for a dose of kooky antics.
- Play with a pet. In fact, pets are good for your overall health, as studies have shown that pets can help protect you from depression, stress, and even heart disease.
- Go to a “laughter yoga” class. (I haven’t tried one of these, but I’m dying to!)
- Goof around with your kids. They’re little laughter machines.
- Make time for fun activities that you might have dismissed as being silly, like bowling, miniature golf, or even karaoke.
And finally, when you just need an instant pick-me-up, put this song on loud or and I dare you not to start dancing! Honestly, even though I’ve heard this song a bazillion times, I can’t help but start dancing and singing – it makes me happy every time.
Just Look at what this song has done! It’s so full of happiness that it’s touched people worldwide and that happiness is felt so strongly in this clip that Pharrell started crying and I started crying because this “happiness” is so beautiful. We should remember to hold on to that every day. Finding the happy, the laughter, the smile will help you heal.
This week, I took my husband on a daytime date to the movies to see The Grand Hotel Budapest as my self-care savior…and it was a great laugh! Serotonin tank filled. :)
Got a favorite funny story, joke, or video? Give us all a good laugh and share them in the comments!