Nature has built natural "anti depressants" right into our bodies that we can activate whenever we need to. It is remarkably easy to attain a "feel good" state if we just adopt a few proactive habits and keep them going. Here's what these "natural antidepressants" can do for us. Serotonin keeps our moods balanced and up beat. It calms anxiety and improves our sleep. Touching releases oxytocin, that bonding chemical that mediates emotional closeness. It paradoxically helps us to feel close and connected AND to set boundaries. Hot baths or showers give us a shot of prolactin (and serotonin) which is associated with that serene state that nursing mothers enter. These are nature's mood stabilizers; they act in the brain and body in the same way that anti depressants act; they manage our moods.
When we don't make use of the medicine chest nature put inside of us and learn how to calm and soothe ourselves through daily, health enhancing activities, we may want to turn to synthetic or artificial solutions to achieve a state of well being. We might grab a substance like alcohol, drugs, or food to unwind, calm down or de-stress. Or maybe we turn to addictive behaviors like gambling or sexual acting out to jump start that high feeling. Some try to regulate their moods with food, maybe under-eating to regain a sense of control or over eating to feel centered and peaceful.
Our thoughts, emotions and our behavior ALL effect our body chemistry. Just climbing out of bed in the morning and getting into a hot shower or bath, for example, elevates our levels of serotonin "nature's natural anti- depressant" and makes it easier for us to get into a positive frame of mind. In fact, extensive research studies reveal that taking a brisk walk four times a week can be as effective in managing depression as medication.
Achieving emotional sobriety and balance is about establishing a routine of healthy activities that elevate our moods naturally so that we can activate the medicine chest inside of us to smooth out our stressed out emotions and manage our moods.
This "serotonin management" amounts to paying attention to all of those little things that make you feel good and systematically building them into your daily routine. Walk to work, exercise with a friend, take time to relax and just be. Breathe. We all know intuitively that certain activities just make us feel good...that pampering ourselves with relaxation, massage, pleasant surroundings, good food or listening to music all open that secret door into our sense of well being. When we intentionally make these sorts of activities part of our daily lives, we're managing our moods the natural way and taking care of our mental (and physical) health. So that instead of engaging in synthetic mood managers that may be unhealthy or even self destructive, we can depend on those that are sustainable and natural to stay in balance and to achieve and maintain emotional sobriety.