The D.O.S.E. of hormones you need to stay productive at work

Last month, we had talked about what makes a positive work culture, how it can build better teams and enhance productivity. In this article, we will discuss a little more into detail about the science behind all that positive energy, and how you can harness it from your body to get yourself more productive at work.

I am talking about the Happy Hormones of the body. They are collectively abbreviated as DOSE ־ Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins; hormones produced by various glands in our bodies and the brain. They all have specific functions that contribute to a person’s mood, feelings of love or trust, relief of stress or pain, and sense of well-being. All of which are good, positive feelings that, in turn, contribute to positive work culture. 

Here is how you can get your daily DOSE of hormones and what they do to make you better at your job, and in life overall:

Dopamine 

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is produced by our bodies. It is known as the “reward-chemical” hormone. It induces feelings of accomplishment and excitement like the feelings we get when we receive something new such as a gift, or try something pleasant for the first time, or achieve something we have been working hard on. In essence, it has a huge role on how we feel the sensation of pleasure. Dopamine excites our brain cells and helps us focus, think, and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting. 

Oxytocin 

You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you are close to someone you love and trust? Or maybe that jump you feel when someone you care about hugs you? That feeling is not just a feeling, that is a neurotransmitter that is working hard behind the scenes. Oxytocin is better known as the “love hormone”. It is released when people bond socially, thus influencing social behavior. It is the chemical behind human trust, empathy and relationship building. 

Serotonin

If you have the “love hormone” you also need something to balance it. Enter Serotonin, our “mood stabilizer” that one person in the family that holds everyone together. That one teammate that is always level-headed, devoid of stress and excellent at managing crises. Yes, that is Serotonin. Why is serotonin so special? Because serotonin plays a major role in regulating our mood. Individuals with high levels of serotonin are peaceful and calm by nature, open and clear-minded, and are socially dominant. When we lack serotonin, it makes us anxious, depressed, and aggressive, it can even lower our self-esteem and lower our mood as a result. It is the precursor to melatonin, the neurotransmitter that allows us to sleep.

Endorphins 

The favorite hormone of Elle Woods in the movie Legally Blonde, and she did make a very charming point when she mentioned that Endorphins make us happy. They are after all “Pain killer hormones” whose main function is to decrease feelings of pain and stress. They are released during exercise to cope with the discomfort of physical exercise. They also trigger a positive feeling which leads to intense happiness –this is what Elle Woods was talking about. This feeling is often described as ‘runner’s high’. Endorphins help to alleviate anxiety and depression as they are released in response to a pain.

Okay, we need to get our daily D.O.S.E., how? 

We can best aid our body in producing our daily D.O.S.E. of hormones in healthy amounts. A study conducted in 2018 by Ghosh et al., states that the happy hormones in our bodies can be produced naturally by performing certain behaviors or simply experiencing positive life events.

Complete tasks and create to-do lists.

Hormone: Dopamine

Research suggests that dopamine levels are increased when we finish a task or reach a goal. This is primarily because the brain releases dopamine as soon as we acknowledge that any task at hand is completed. When we have small tasks and hit them one by one, we also get small dosages of dopamine which makes us feel good. Thus, breaking down larger goals into smaller tasks proves strategically effective in staying motivated at a certain project and task at hand. Our brains have a feeling of satisfaction when we cross out tasks in to-do lists. This activity of checking the to-do list off after finishing the tasks brings in a sense of accomplishment, can help to increase the dopamine levels, ultimately generating happiness. 

Experience new things and engage in creative pursuits.

Hormone: Dopamine

Dopamine production is triggered when an individual finds something new and exciting in front of them. This increase of dopamine levels can be achieved doing creative hobbies that need an individual to focus. At work, we can do this by giving team members new projects that will push them to use their innovative capabilities. You can also boost dopamine levels by having fun events and creative workshops that encourage these activities. 

Cultivate positivity.

Hormone: Serotonin

Stay positive, remember happy events, practice optimism, and recite affirmations. Staying positive is the key to better performance, overall health, and well-being. Optimism is associated with the healthy structure and functioning of the brain, it also helps increase serotonin levels. At the workplace, there can be a display of photos that show happy memories of past achievements, get-togethers, off-sites, office celebrations at important places in the offices such as receptions, meeting rooms, general work areas and digitally through wallpapers.

Get social!

Hormone: Serotonin and Oxytocin  

Make time for social interactions, to increase social dominance. Now, when we say social dominance, we do not mean dominance per se, we mean being more assertive in a social and work type of scope that triggers positive social connections. Social connectivity triggers the release of oxytocin. Our role in social circles may also influence the serotonin levels. These actions help build trust and feelings of reliance which we need if we plan on working together as a team. 

Celebrate wins at work.

Hormone: Dopamine

Celebrating wins enhances dopamine in our systems. At the workplace, it is therefore important that we create opportunities to celebrate small winnings, do a victory celebration, cut a cake, and send a congratulatory email. These create a sense of fulfilment, bring positive energy, and motivates the team to get up and go for the next achievement.

Handshake and hugs

Hormone: Oxytocin

When connecting with friends and colleagues at work, it is important to maintain eye contact while speaking and firmly shaking hands while greeting. Back at home, cuddling a pet also generates a higher level of oxytocin. These activities generate trust, and trust is the highest form of motivation which makes an individual happy.

Practice charity

Hormone: Endorphins

Those who engage in acts of giving reach a state of euphoria which psychologists term as ‘helper’s high’ and emphasizes that giving produces more endorphins in the brain. Organizations can achieve this by gifting their teammates for special occasions such as birthdays, on special and personal achievements, year-end event gifts, tenure awards, or by participating in charity work. Special events that engage teammates to socialize and gift also work in achieving this such as having a “Secret Santa” during Christmas and raffle prizes. 

Laugh

Hormones: Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphins 

Organizations should encourage humor at work. At the workplace, there can be several fun events or a humor board with intelligent and tasteful jokes (after review) posted for people to laugh and quip about. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and in more ways than one, it is. 

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude across the organization.

Hormone: Dopamine and Serotonin 

The expression of gratitude releases dopamine that makes us feel good. It was also found that when we reflect on or write down the positive situations or experiences that we encounter in our life, the brain releases serotonin and, as serotonin enhances our mood, we start feeling happy. Organizations can do this, like Rocket Station and promote appreciation posts across common communication feeds. There can also be “Appreciation Weeks” where the cultivation of gratitude is enhanced. 

Get adequate exposure to sunlight. 

Hormone: Serotonin

The expression of gratitude releases dopamine that makes us feel good. It was also found that when we reflect on or write down the positive situations or experiences that we encounter in our life, the brain releases serotonin and, as serotonin enhances our mood, we start feeling happy. Organizations can do this, like Rocket Station and promote appreciation posts across common communication feeds. There can also be “Appreciation Weeks” where the cultivation of gratitude is enhanced. 

Exercise and meditation at workplace

Hormone: Dopamine, Serotonin and Endorphins

Exercising relieves stress, helps in achieving better physical health and makes an individual more productive. Meditation is the practice of concentrating, focusing inward and letting our thoughts float. Research suggests that meditation and exercise help in increased levels of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins and regular practice is associated with improved mental and physical health. At the workplace, this can all be practiced by having a place for teammates to work out, such as an at-work gym or physical area. Meditation practices can also be achieved at work by having yoga classes or fun at-work meditation seminars and events coupled with aromatherapy and soothing music. 

At Rocket Station, we place value in the health and wellness of each teammate and seek to empower them to lead a healthy lifestyle. This April, join our community by signing up in our newsletter to read more interesting articles about health and wellness and how it can help you at work. 

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