When our children feel sad, are hurt, maybe unwell or injured we want to help them feel happier. Art as therapy is a well-known strategy that helps release the happy hormones in our bodies. There are four of these that health practitioners refer to when considering why some experiences trigger feel-good emotions and engender a sense of contentment, peace, even joy.
These happy hormones
When we experience something pleasurable, Dopamine is released and we feel good in the moment. This is sometimes called the rewarding hormone. It comes with doing even simple things like something we know is good for us: for example, eating healthy food. It can also be things like making our bed, preparing for school - organising ourselves. Then there is the satisfaction we feel when we finish a task. If someone gives us a pat on the back, a ‘well done’ or just a big smile when we achieve something we feel the ‘warm fuzzies’.
Serotonin is another chemical released in our body which has a longer lasting effect on our sense of well-being. This is a mood stabilising hormone released when we are out in the sunshine, in nature and exercising. Ensuring our children, our students, are given daily opportunities to experience these mood boosters can be significant in the overall feeling of calm, positivity and self-worth. Pause, smell the roses and breathe in the serenity!
Endorphins are hormones that work like pain killers: emotional as well as physical. These can be released when we laugh and exercise. Physical activities may be restricted but encouraging whatever is possible can help - even making faces to get a laugh! Laughter is a wonderful medicine.