The brain is totally fascinating to me. It is not a rigid organ that cannot change.
It is dynamic. In our teenagers, the brain is developing and changing rapidly. The article, Your Brain and Happiness: How to Make ‘Happy’ Happen by Debbie Hampton for HeySigmund.com, explains how four different brain chemicals can help change our brain chemistry and create our mood.
Below I summarized what she taught us in her article then added my thoughts on each one and how I see it relating to teens.
This neurochemical is released in our brain when we think we are going to receive a reward or achieve a goal. As a result, we feel pleasure.
My application: Help your teenager feel success by making positive comments about small achievements. This will build pathways in their brain that keeps dopamine flowing.
Oxytocin is also called the “cuddle neurochemical.” It is released when we feel close to another person.
My application: Give your teenager lots of hugs every day. When you chat with them, put your hand on their arm; give them little shoulder massages. These small gestures will help maintain a strong bond between you and them. I remember someone saying we needed 10 hugs a day. Sounds good to me.
Here we have a confidence molecule. “It flows when you feel significant or important and controls your overall mood.”
My application: when you are talking to your teenager, be generous with expressions like “I respect you”, “I appreciate you”, “I am so impressed with what you did”. Teens often battle with mood swings and these respectful words will give them a little serotonin boost.
Endorphins diminish our perception of pain and raise our mood. When we stress our body, endorphins are released. Also when we eat chocolate and spicy food as well as smelling vanilla and lavender, endorphins are also released.
My application: It is always a good idea to have some chocolate tucked away for a quick endorphin release!
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