Collage by Lani
All of us have a type of chemical in our brains that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another, neurotransmitters called serotonin, which is totally tied to mood. If serotonin is being absorbed and produced at the right levels then we feel good, we have a feeling of happiness, joy, peace, contentment, etc. However, if our serotonin levels are low then we may struggle with some negative feelings like anger, sadness, loss of joy, tiredness, anxiety, stress, exhaustion, etc. While blood levels of serotonin are measurable, we still don't know for sure if the dip in serotonin causes the negative feelings, or if the negative feelings cause serotonin levels to drop.
However we do know that we are feeling the overall positive feelings there is a related serotonin increase in the blood stream. So what can we do to take good care of the balance of our serotonin levels? What simple activities increase serotonin in our blood stream, without a prescription?
When a person receives a compliment, or when their work is recognized and appreciated, it feels good, and the serotonin levels are balanced. The person giving the compliment also has a serotonin related positive feeling. When we are in an encouraging and positive environment we are generally more satisfied and happy than when we are in a neutral environment. (And of course when we are in a negative or toxic environment we are more discouraged, exhausted and stressed out. Our serotonin levels are dropping in that situation. If you find yourself in a toxic environment, just take a walk, walk yourself right out of the situation, because exercise is also excellent for your serotonin levels.)
So try a daily dose of recognition and appreciation for all you do for yourself. This is where an art journal comes in handy. You can review the pages you have finished in your journal and always find something in your work to compliment yourself on, some lovely use of color, some wonderful shading, some brilliant insights... Complements are always possible. Try it out!
Better yet, take your art journal outside and combine it with exercise. Want some lovely nature inspired art making ideas? Try the Make Art of Life blog entry for June 30. Teresa Van Lanen has some other good ideas on her blog, so enjoy exploring. Thanks to the Art Therapy Alliance for the link!