A Positive Psychologist on the power of happy hormones

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Psychologist on happy hormones

Positive Psychologist, Cornelia Lucey, joins us on the DOSE podcast to discuss self-care, stress and the power of happy hormones.

Cornelia Lucey is a Positive Psychologist, leadership expert and author. She specialises in helping people to enhance their wellbeing, build resilience and maximise their leadership potential.

In this podcast we discuss the importance of establishing boundaries between our home and work lives to prevent burnout in an increasingly digital age, mastering our stress to rest ratio, and why developing a self-care routine is so important – especially in these current times.

On setting boundaries

In this podcast, Cornelia discusses the daily battle we have with our emotional brain between three different systems; the threat system, drive system and recovery system – and the importance of striking a balance between them.

“If we’re not getting the balance right they outdo each other negatively”, she says. “The one that suffers the most is the recovery system…our ability to access serotonin and oxytocin, due to far too much dopamine and cortisol”.

She explains that an understanding of how these systems work is not just about feeling good but is critical to affecting how our bodies function and perform. “If you want someone to be a high performing person, they must learn this sort of self awareness”, she says.

Psychologist Cornelia Lucey on happy hormones and self care

On the importance of developing a self-care regime, Cornelia says “It’s absolutely crucial… The brain requires connection and energy management, time out and rest time and doing things which aren’t going to stress or overexcite us and make us feel contented and at ease…What we’re finding in our work, is that the part of the brain that helps us to feel more contented, relaxed and at ease is getting triggered less. The pandemic is having a squeeze on that too… why we must be conscious to cultivate more self-care to help the brain out and support ourselves to regulate emotionally and cognitively. If we’re not doing that and not getting enough sleep, we’re walking around an eighth of the person that we are. Even in normal times that’s crucial.. but now even more so”, she says.

On serotonin boosting activities

Cornelia cites meditation and mindfulness, as well as walking and being in nature, as ways to boost her recovery and serotonin levels. She also recommends positive self-talk “affirmations”, visualisation or writing, where we take a moment to journal our thoughts, taking worries out of our heads, and onto a page rather than on a screen.

She also has a cut off at 9pm. “It’s my downtime, and “holy hour” she says, “where I’m not going to be switched on”. She admits that she asks her husband to take her phone. “He confiscates it… when it’s out of sight, it helps to change my behaviour”.

Stress is ok… if it’s just stress

On the importance of mastering our stress to rest ratio, she says: “We need stress, it keeps us alive, doing stuff, reaching for our goals… but like everything, out of balance, stress has a downside… when it has a detrimental impact affecting our ability to recover”.

This podcast is in partnership with Alaska Seafood. Alaska, the large, sparsely populated US state, is one of the world’s largest seafood exporters. Seafood from Alaska is 100% wild, natural and sustainable.

As ever, we are so thankful to all our listeners for tuning in each week. To help us to keep going we would love it if you could rate, review and subscribe – also please share our newsletter to your friends and family or anyone who you think needs a hit of happiness in their inbox.

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Hettie is the editor and co-founder of DOSE. A keen runner, she’s also partial to a blast of high-intensity and hot yoga. A country girl at heart, she divides her time between London and the lush rolling hills of North Devon. When she’s not jetting off on her next adventure, Hettie can be found in a candle-lit alcove with a laptop, a spaniel and a full bodied Malbec.

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