Valentine’s Day can bring up many emotions that you have spent all year trying to suppress. If you are alone, it’s a reminder of that, and if you are in a bad relationship it amplifies that. If you are seriously dating someone, you may be hoping that your partner will pop the big question on this day, only to realize that you are not on the same page at all. So, unless you are part of the very lucky small percentage of people who are happy in a relationship with someone who envisions the same future on the same timeline, this Valentine’s Day will most likely stir up some unwanted emotions.
All this talk of disappointment in personal lives and reading about the high suicide rate surrounding this holiday made me wonder if we can trick our minds into feeling “in love” so that we can live happily ever after regardless of the status quo of our love life.
What is love, anyway? The official formula of brain chemicals released that scientists define as love is a combination of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. Memes circulating online claim that overdosing on any of these chemicals can cause “schizophrenia, extreme paranoia and insanity.” If you have ever been in an intense relationship, you can probably back this theory up.
So, if men are not rushing to buy you a drink at the bar or women are just not responding to your awesome pick-up lines, just make yourself a love cocktail. Here are some ways to increase the love chemicals in your brain.
Dopamine, the “pleasure chemical,” produces the feeling of bliss.
- Eat tyrosine-rich food: Tyrosine can be found in almonds, avocados, eggs, beans, fish, bananas and chicken.
- Exercise: This increases levels of dopamine.
- Meditate: Studies have shown that meditation increases dopamine, which leads to improved focus.
- Get a massage: Research has shown that getting a massage increases dopamine levels by nearly 30%.
- Sleep: Easier said than done, but if you can, it ensures that your brain increases dopamine naturally.
The “love molecule,” oxytocin, is triggered by touch or the feeling of support. Increase your oxytocin levels by:
- Enjoying your friendship bonds.
- Making love.
- Having a baby.
- Petting a dog.
- Hugging more often.
- Using the word “love” frequently.
Serotonin, the happiness chemical, is a crucial multi-purpose ingredient in this cocktail of love. To increase your serotonin levels, do the following:
- Get some sunlight (with SPF).
- Exercise – it boosts serotonin in your brain even more than having serotonin-enhancing medications.
- Enjoy some complex carbohydrates (aka healthy comfort foods) like sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries, carrots and garbanzo beans.
Need a shot of endorphins? That’s an easy, fun one:
- Eat chocolate.
- Make love.
- Exercise (alone or in a group) for at least 30 minutes at a time.
- Listen to music or create it.
The lifestyle choices listed above can help you feel healthy, alive and complete. A balanced diet, exercise, friendships and some fun activities can go a long way in making you feel at your best and, if anything, in love with yourself and your life. It’s worth a shot to launch this chemical-inducing lifestyle on Valentine’s Day!
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“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde, Playwright