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How to Turn on Your Natural “Happiness Switch”

depression happiness mood Dec 05, 2020

 

Take a moment to think about things that make you happy.

I’m sure the people in your life, pleasant experiences you’ve enjoyed, your achievements, and your passions come to mind.

But when you get down to it, happiness is mostly a chemical experience…

You’ve probably heard of “feel good” chemicals—the chemicals naturally generated by your brain, and the main ingredients in your recipe for happiness.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have these happiness chemicals at-the-ready whenever you wanted?

Well, you’re in luck. Because you can!

And it might surprise you to know that you can do this simply with sound.

 

How sound summons “feel good” chemicals

More specifically, feel good chemicals are unlocked when the vibrations from your own voice stimulate your vagus nerve—your body’s largest cranial nerve, spanning from the bottom of your brain stem, through your body, to the abdomen.

(Self-created sounds such as humming and singing are natural ways to stimulate the vagus nerve. More on that in just a moment.)

And when this nerve is affected with sound vibration, it sends a message to your brain to activate the release of your “feel good” chemicals, including:

  • Acetylcholine: your body’s most abundant neurotransmitter that serves as a natural tranquilizer and inflammation suppressant. It also regulates our arousal response.
  • Dopamine: a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
  • Endorphins: chemicals produced naturally in the body to cope with pain or stress. These neuropeptides are known for their morphine-like euphoric effect.
  • Nitric oxide: known for its anti-inflammatory effect and its ability to relax the inner muscles of the blood vessels, causing them to widen and increase circulation.
  • Oxytocin: a social bonding hormone known for creating a feeling of well-being.

 


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All you need is “om”

Let’s take a look at some research that demonstrates the benefits of actively conjuring these brain chemicals—and exactly how you can do it, too.

In 2016, a study on sound was performed at the Institute of Medical Sciences in Kerala, India.

The researchers wanted to find out if sound could help older women with diagnosed hypertension treat their depression and anxiety.

The study included a total of 40 women (with ages ranging from 50 to 60 years old) whose baseline values for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate, depression, anxiety, and stress were measured.

The participants were then split into two groups: one was exposed to sound and the other was not.

Over a duration of six months, the sound group gathered once a day to participate in “Om” chant—a popular mantra traditionally performed throughout India and many other Asian cultures.

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, this mantra is typically chanted at the beginning and end of a session.

I’ll tell you exactly how to do this chant in just a moment.

At the conclusion of the study, the research team discovered that the group who used sound saw a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate, depression, anxiety, and stress as compared with the group who did not use sound.

These results can all be attributed to the fact that, as I mentioned earlier, repetitive chanting stimulates your vagus nerve, which in turn releases your brain’s stores of acetylcholine, dopamine, endorphins, nitric oxide, and oxytocin—all chemicals that help regulate your emotional response and balance out specific bodily functions.

The good news here is that these “feel good” chemicals are natural and good for you… unlike some of the other chemicals you might turn to when you’re stressed out or depressed—like alcohol, nicotine, junk food, or sugar.

 

The simple technique for turning on your “happiness switch”

Conjuring these brain chemicals is easy, free, and can be done just about anywhere you go.

Try the simple exercise used in the study:

  1. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and then exhale.
  2. For the next few seconds, take a mental inventory of how you feel in your mind and body. (Ask yourself questions like: Am I feeling stressed? Am I exhausted? Am I feeling any tension? If so, where?)
  3. Place your palms over your heart, so that you can feel the vibration you’re about to create.
  4. Take another deep breath inward and gently exhale the long sound of the vowel “Ohhh” for the full exhalation.
  5. Near the end of the exhalation, transform the sound to the short constant sound “Mmmm.” (“Ohhhhmmm.”)
  6. Repeat four times. (You can always do more if you’d like!)
  7. Sit for a few seconds and take note of how relaxed and calm your mind and body now feel.

I use short exercises like this throughout my day as natural self-maintenance—especially if I need to clear my mind and get focused on the task at hand.

I’ll also do this exercise if I’ve encountered a challenging, frustrating, or overwhelming situation.

Personally, this exercise helps me “reset” my mindset to prevent my mood from heading in the wrong direction and affecting those around me.

Be well,

Jim Donovan

 

P.S. – You can learn more about the “feel good” chemicals I discussed—as well as several other exercises to improve both your health and life—

by joining my Donovan Sound Healing Circle which gives you unlimited access to every single one of sound based wellness methods and courses for less than $9/mo! Simply click here to learn more or give it try today.

 


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SOURCES:

“Brain imaging shows how vagus nerve stimulation improves depression symptoms.” Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, 5/16/13. (https://www.bbrfoundation.org/content/brain-imaging-shows-how-vagus-nerve-stimulation-improves-depression-symptoms)

“The vagus nerve in appetite regulation, mood, and intestinal inflammation.” Gastroenterology. 2017; 152(4): 730-744. doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2016.10.046

  1. “Does singing promote well-being?: An empirical study of professional and amateur singers during a singing lesson.” Integrative psychological and behavioral science. 2003; 38(1): 65-74. PMID: 12814197
  2. “Exhaled nasal nitric oxide during humming: Potential clinical tool in sinonasal disease? Biomarkers in medicine. 2013; 7(2): 261-266. PMID: 23547821
  3. “Cholinergic control of inflammation.” Journal of internal medicine. 2009; 265(6): 663-679. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2009.02098.x
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