It can be easy to forget that the point of “wellness” is just to feel good. We can get caught up in our routines without reflecting on the true purpose of these rituals. Other times, we get stuck in the mindset that the purpose of wellness is longevity or aesthetics, instead of helping us just feel better day to day. Wellness influencer and certified nutritional therapist Gracie Norton’s viral Daily DOSE challenge reminds us that our wellness routines all originate from a desire to be happier. Instead of opting for an intense and demanding push like the 75 Hard to get herself out of a funk, the TikToker is prioritizing four happy “hormones” each day to boost her mood.
Getting in my daily DOSE of happy chemicals! If you’re in a funk too, would love for you to join the challenge 💕 sometimes its the most simple habits/ choices that make the biggest difference! inspired by the reign club! #routines #routine #habits #healthyhabits
Norton’s method of hormone and neurotransmitter regulation is expert-approved. “These molecules all play an important role in helping us feel content and safe in our environment,” explained Dr. NavNirat Nibber, the Senior Medical Advisor at Advanced Orthomolecular Research in Canada. “They also help us become resilient to stressors in our environment and increase cognition and problem-solving.” Whether you’re in a funk, have lost motivation, or simply want to boost your mood once in a while, Norton’s Daily DOSE challenge can be a great way to get happier. Use this checklist to pick at least one activity daily from each category and watch your happiness levels skyrocket.
The Daily DOSE Checklist
According to Dr. Nibber, dopamine is a key neurotransmitter for promoting feelings of satisfaction, relief, and enjoyment. However, taking care of our daily dopamine levels does not mean attempting to spike dopamine in our bodies. Instead, Dr. Nibber recommends activities that will help regulate dopamine cycles.
In her original Tik Tok, Norton recommends exercise, meditation, and new experiences as options for daily dopamine release and regulation. Dr. Nibber expands on this by saying that an effective way to regulate dopamine is to “bundle” tasks that you don’t want to do (like cleaning) with appealing scents and sounds (such as lighting your favorite candles and turning on your favorite podcast). When we successfully complete a task, we experience a dopamine release, so making a to-do list and checking items off of that list throughout the day can help. Lastly, breathwork can be a great way to promote healthy dopamine levels: “Breathing exercises such as box breathing and belly breathing can also regulate the parasympathetic nervous system and prevent dopamine surge and crash cycles,” says Dr. Nibber.
As the mysterious “love hormone,” oxytocin actually makes us feel connected to the people around us. In an increasingly lonely and isolated world, it’s an element of a wellness routine that can be easily overlooked. Socialization and physical contact are actually key parts of promoting our happy hormones, which is why Norton hugs her parents as a part of her Daily DOSE routine.
Of course, boosting your oxytocin on a daily basis can be complex or simple, wholesome or spicy (choose your own adventure). Make dinner plans with a group of friends to feel socially connected, hug your mom for 10 seconds straight, cuddle with your pet, have sex with your partner—whatever your prerogative is, Dr. Nibber says that the key is physical contact in order to promote feelings of joy, security, and contentment.
Like dopamine, serotonin is technically a neurotransmitter, not a hormone; however, proper levels of serotonin can make a world of difference in our mental well-being and overall happiness. According to Dr. Nibber, proper levels of serotonin actually start in the gut. “A significant amount of serotonin produced in our bodies is produced in the gut and is influenced by the gut microbiome,” she says. “Eat lots of fermented and unprocessed foods, and address any parasites or dysbiosis.”
Serotonin is also tied to melatonin, our sleep hormone. If you have (or if you are) a “Huberman Husband,” then you know how important it is to get the right amount and kind of sleep each night in order to maintain mental well-being. In her Tik Tok, Norton is ensuring proper levels of melatonin and serotonin by getting outside in the sunshine; Dr. Nibber recommends focusing on your sleep hygiene with blackout curtains at night and natural sunlight first thing in the morning.
The “E” in the Daily DOSE challenge stands for endorphins, which refer to a group of inhibitory neurotransmitters in our bodies. While dopamine and serotonin (both neurotransmitters) are meant to boost certain hormones in the body’s endocrine system, endorphins are meant to block certain signals. Specifically, endorphins help block pain signals, meaning they can help to reduce feelings of stress and discomfort. Though they are a short-term relief system, getting endorphins in your daily routine through exercise, laughter, or even a bit of sugar can help you maintain a great mood throughout the day.
Taking the Daily DOSE a Step Further: Stress Regulation
According to Dr. Nibber, the Daily DOSE challenge gets us moving, eating, and connecting, which are key pillars for a healthy lifestyle.” Her one edit to the challenge if you’re feeling up to a fifth element? Cortisol management as a means of stress regulation. “Cortisol, or the stress hormone, is influenced by sleep, blood sugar, cardiovascular changes, and neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine,” says Dr. Nibber. “It will cause a cascade of changes to help protect us from the threat or danger.” If our bodies are not actually in danger and we are experiencing cortisol spikes, then our stress levels may be too high or too low, which can throw off all of the hard work that the Daily DOSE attempts to promote in our endocrine system.
If you are looking to take your Daily DOSE challenge one step further with stress management, make sure that you are honoring the natural circadian rhythm of your cortisol. Our cortisol levels should be naturally higher in the morning and taper off throughout the day, but we often block this system, and it all has to do with our morning and night routines. “Avoid excessive or stimulating content before bed, scrolling on our phones, or HIIT workouts right before we go to sleep,” Dr. Nibber says. “Restore your cortisol curve by going on a walk first thing in the morning.”