Building a Child’s Happy Brain

My daughter and I traveled together to a medical conference; I was speaking at the event. I love when I can sneak in one on one time with one of the eight children. We had a great time without the sibling distractions. Traveling like this allowed her to feel more grown up, avoid the usual sibling competition, and to feel, well, special. I doted on a beautiful young lady. And here is what happened – in both our brains…. Our brains have a lot to give when the moments are right. (I will not bore you with details of our trip. I simply want you to know what our brains can do and how it happens. You already know why… it is all about love and connection.)

The human body produces hundreds of neurochemicals. They are key to our physical and mental wellbeing.

  1. Dopamine

Dopamine puts us out into the world. Higher levels of this chemical makes us more talkative and allows us to set goals that we go after. It is also called the reward molecule since it is released with pleasure seeking activity. 

My daughter was talkative, adventurous and sassy while together.

Ginkgo Biloba is a popular wonder drug and though it's not proven, it might help increase dopamine levels by making it stay in your brain longer. L-theanine increases neurotransmitter production in your brain, one of which is dopamine. Green tea has lots of this, though it can also be taken as a theanine supplement.

  1. Endocannabinoids

Yes, this is the ‘bliss molecule’ found in marijuana and our body makes this in abundance. We are full of endocannabinoid receptors. The runner’s high is thought to be due to this chemical.

My daughter’s state of consciousness and perception was altered by the attention she received, the freedom she received and the experiences of hanging out with adults having fun.

Probiotics, fish oil, dark chocolate, exercise, cold exposure, sex hormones, coffee, EVOO, flavonoids, green and white tea, kava, osteopathy and, obviously, CBD oil all increase your body’s natural endocannabinoids.

  1. Oxytocin

This ‘bonding chemical’ builds loyalty and trust through affection, skin-to-skin contact, and intimacy. This has a huge influence on feelings of happiness.

My daughter and I snuggled, played games, and chatted about life.

Lab-tested methods to raise oxytocin are to listen with your eyes, give a gift, share a meal, meditate while focusing on others, soak in a hot tub, use responsible social media, ride a roller coaster or jump out of an airplane, and pet a dog.

  1. Endorphin

The ‘painkilling molecule’ is released through strenuous exercise and intimate encounters. We cope better with the pains of life when we keep the endorphins flowing.

My daughter hit the jacuzzi in cold weather and played constantly. I am not sure she had an endorphin release but she felt the love of my friends and me.

Try these tactics to coax your body into making more endorphins: chocolate, eat your very favorite food, exercise — and not just running, laugh, have sex, make music, take a group fitness class, and eat hot peppers.

  1. Serotonin

This neurochemical helps us build confidence and a sense of belonging. We need to challenge ourselves to achieve this connection and feeling.

My daughter had to meet new people, navigate her way around a giant resort alone and manifest the courage to ask for what she wanted.

5-HTP, L-tryptophan, SAMe and St. John’s Wort are supplemental precursors or boosters of serotonin.

  1. Adrenaline

The energy molecule is released during stress and fear. This wakens us to the moment so we can encounter the chaos before us.

My daughter met new people, places and things.

We do not want more adrenaline unless we are in a moment of great need, like a race or a fight. Instead, we focus on lowering adrenaline. You can use these supplements to relax and find happy: rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha, panax ginseng, omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil,) gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA,) and B-vitamins.

  1. GABA

This is the calm-making chemical and is released through yoga and meditation. Your neurons fire slower and this creates a sense of calmness.

My daughter sat with me quietly in the hotel room and we had nice life talks.

To naturally increase GABA levels you can take epsom salt baths with essential oils. Epsom salt baths can provide magnesium to the bloodstream and acts to relax the body. Adding in essential oils such as valerian, kava, chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, and passionflower can be extremely supportive for healthy GABA levels.

So find your happiness with your loved ones. Let’s make life wonderful by focusing on generational wellness.

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