So this is my first offering to you all so please be gentle.
It is almost impossible to decide what I should write about first so I thought I would break the ice by writing about something I love…. Macaroni and cheese. Yes, you read right! I am grateful for many things in my life including my 8 year old son, the roof over my head and my unfaltering drive to help others find their own brand of happiness.
However, that thing that gives me that fuzzy warm feeling and really hits the spot is a smooth creamy macaroni and cheese. Now I know as a human that it is not the most nutritious food I can put in my body and so it only happens occasionally and when necessary. But, as a neuroscientist I also know that eating carbohydrates releases the neurotransmitter serotonin which promotes feelings of calmness, improves mood and can lessen feelings of depression. Interestingly serotonin is also released when we exercise, more about this in another blog.
Still along the macaroni cheese vein cheese, particularly salty cheese, can release dopamine from the so called ‘reward centre’ of the brain making us feel really really good. This release of dopamine however also makes us crave the thing that made us so happy in the first place over and over again.
Now in the world of cheese and carbohydrates this is maybe not such a great thing to crave seconds or even thirds of the cheesy goodness! But, what is really interesting from a personal development perspective is that we can use these natural highs to anchor in and exploit other more healthy habits in our lives. If you are not following let me break it down. When we experience things we love our bodies release chemicals which makes us want to experience it again. If we create a healthy habit that makes us feel good we naturally want to do it again reinforcing the habit and creating a natural way of making us feel great!
Here are my top 5 healthy habit suggestions:
- Build in some daily mindful minutes www.headspace.com
- Get out into nature. https://www.wanderlust.co.uk/content/what-is-forest-bathing/
- Laugh out loud, this can release tension and also promote the release of happy hormones.
- Stretch out your muscles. Try a short yoga sequence or stretch your body however feels good!
- Sleep, sleep and sleep some more. Getting a good nights sleep can instantly change your mood and recharge you.
So in short find your own macaroni cheese!