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in: Anxiety, Emotions, Podcast

April 29, 2020

Podcast #606: How to Activate Your Brain’s Happy Chemicals

Everyone has experienced the way our feelings fluctuate day by day, and even hour by hour. Sometimes we’re feeling up and sometimes we’re feeling down.

My guest today says these oscillations are a result of nature’s operating system and that you can learn to better manage these emotional peaks and valleys. Her name is Loretta Breuning and she’s the author of several books on happiness and the human brain, including her latest, Tame Your Anxiety: Rewiring Your Brain for Happiness. We begin our conversation by discussing the similarities between human brains and the brains of other mammals, and how our brains release happiness-producing chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin to spur us to seek rewards related to our survival needs. We also talk about the unhappy chemical of cortisol which is released in response to perceived threats, and the factors that have increased our stress and anxiety in the modern world. Loretta then explains that the boost we get whenever the brain’s happy chemicals are activated doesn’t last, and how we need to plan and execute healthy options for proactively stimulating these chemicals, including creating expectations for rewards and finding small, positive ways of increasing our status. We end our conversation with how to manage spikes of cortisol in yourself, as well as help other people manage their emotional troughs.

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Show Highlights

  • The characteristics and chemicals our brains share with other mammals
  • The things that separate us from mammals  
  • Where anxiety comes from 
  • How do you figure out what your mammal brain wants in the moment?
  • Where brain chemicals go wrong, and how to pick the right things to scratch those chemical itches 
  • Dealing with the short-term nature of these chemicals 
  • What is boredom, really? 
  • Surviving the pandemic by finding ways to trigger your happy chemicals 
  • Why you should feel good about (and even share!) your accomplishments 
  • Managing cortisol in your life and how to fight back 
  • Using sleep to your chemical benefit 
  • Helping other people manage their stress  

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Loretta

Loretta’s website

Loretta on Instagram

Loretta on Twitter

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Read the Transcript

Coming soon!

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