Have you ever been driving down the road and somebody does something really stupid and all of a sudden you might be calling that person some names, maybe you’re using some hand gestures that you wouldn’t normally use? That’s called an amygdala hijack. It means that our brain has checked out of being logical and has gone into overdrive to protect us. Those situations can be tough but today what I’m going to talk about is how do we hack the hijack and actually make those neurotransmitters work for us?
There are four neurotransmitters I want to share with you to help you feel better and improve your productivity. Now I have to give the caveat: this is not medical advice and in certain situations you may need to see a doctor or consult a medical professional. This is simply some things that we can do day-to-day to make us feel better.
The first neurotransmitter to talk about is dopamine. Now, dopamine is the motivator, right? This makes us feel good. One way to increase our dopamine is celebrate our small wins. Look at our accomplishments. I became a runner recently. Honestly, I hate to run, but I love to finish a race. That feeling of accomplishment gives me such a good hit of dopamine that I ended up signing up for another race.
Oxytocin is our next neurotransmitter and think about that as being out of lever, all right? That’s the one that makes us feel good, makes us feel like we belong. Some simple ways to increase your oxytocin and give you a nice little hit, believe it or not, just shaking hands with someone. Hugging also increases oxytocin. Again, a caveat: don’t go around hugging people and strangers and please comply with any HR policies within your organization around physical contact but certainly with friends and family it may work. Sometimes, it might be just connecting with someone, having a good conversation. That can increase our oxytocin.
Now serotonin, think about that as being our cheerleader, right? That’s the “Ra-ra, woo-hoo,” right? Makes us feel happy. One of the best ways to increase your serotonin is to have a gratitude journal. Write down what you’re grateful for. Remind yourself of all of the great things in your life. Visualize, looking at pictures. I have a certain picture on my phone that is the most beautiful spot in the world to me and I was there with my dad and I look at that picture and I instantly just get this feeling of everything’s okay.
Endorphins is the fourth neurotransmitter. Now think of this as like our natural painkillers, right? These are those natural endorphins that we have that we create within ourselves. The best way to give yourselves a hit of endorphins, kind of like the dopamine, is to go for a walk. A brisk walk around the office or maybe just around the block. Any type exercise like that can increase your endorphins. It makes you feel good almost to the point of being euphoric. Which explains why I keep signing up for these races, right? That euphoria at the end.
Productivity hack number five is hack the hijack. Learn what’s going on in our bodies and in our brains and put steps into place to help us feel good. I’m Belinda Goodrich and let’s get stuff done.