“Under normal circumstances, good mental health is crucial to the functioning of society. During a pandemic, however, it can affect how we respond and recover” (The Lancet, October 08, 2020) 

We live in unusual and uncertain time and this uncertainty has contributed to an increase in anxiety, depression, stress and other mental health issues. With that in mind, I want to share of my best tips to help with mental health: The notion of DOSE: 

D is for dopamine

O is for oxytocin

S for serotonin

E for endorphins.

Ways That You Can Bring More DOSE, or a Dose of Happiness into Your Life.

There are so many different ways you can look at mental health. I’m just picking this one particular area, this one particular nuance of mental health that you can focus on.

How To Get More Dopamine

What behaviours give you a little hit of dopamine? For me, it’s exercise. It’s accomplishing things in context, and in perspective.

How To Get More Oxytocin

Oxytocin is the love, the connection and the bonding hormone. I get a lot of oxytocin when I look into my dog’s eyes, for example, oxytocin comes through connection (that’s not just with canines but with humans too). I get oxytocin when I do things for something that’s bigger than me. For a charity, for example.

How To Get More Serotonin

Serotonin, we get it from light. We can get it from foods. We can get it from exercise to a point as well. What can you do to improve the levels of serotonin in the brain and in the guts where most of our serotonin apparently resides.

How To Get More Endorphins

Endorphins interact with pain receptors in the body. We tend to get endorphins through things like stretching, exercise, so the runner’s high is that kind of tingle of endorphins.

The Importance of Connection in Wellbeing

We can get almost all of the D O S E hormones, through some form of connection. Massage, for example, although it’s not as easy to get at the moment at time of writing, but massage covers off a lot of those different areas of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins, connection covers almost all of them.

My overriding message is think D.O.S.E, a dose of connection, truly connect with yourself, with others, with things that you’re passionate about and find important and fulfilling.

Mental health is no longer ignored. The WHO now campaigns for increasing investment in mental health: 

“The economic consequences of the pandemic are already being felt, as companies let staff go in an effort to save their businesses, or indeed shut down completely.

Given past experience of emergencies, it is expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years. Investment in mental health programmes at the national and international levels, which have already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more important than it has ever been.”

This article first appeared in the November issue of SE22 magazine.