–by Christina Forde, RP(Q)
“Within DOSE you find the keys to resilience, purpose, and authentic well-being” stated Dr. Krissy Doyle-Thomas during the November 26 PS: Protect Seminar, “Stay Safe and Effective: Neurobiology, Self-Regulation and DOSE (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Endorphins).”
I was intrigued to learn more about the mind-body connection and how DOSE impacts our mental health. Dr. Doyle-Thomas, a Medical Neuroscientist, used her expertise in brain health to teach attendees so much about how to improve mental resilience and avoid burnout. She highlighted the importance of Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins (DOSE) for all people, including Psychotherapists.
The speaker provided an overview of these neuro-chemicals’ role in the brain and also gave us opportunities to try out activities that can increase production of DOSE.
Dr. Doyle-Thomas introduced Dopamine and how it is “intricately tied to our experiences of motivation, pleasure, and the pursuit of rewards.” She explained that Dopamine can be increased through anticipation and achievement of goals. She then asked us to think of a win we have experienced. I did find it encouraging to reflect on the dopamine boosts I have received from past successes and to also celebrate with other attendees as they shared their own wins.
Next, the love and connection hormone, Oxytocin, was spotlighted. Dr. Doyle-Thomas explained that gratitude is a great way to boost our moods. She said that it is “so very powerful in shaping your brain, activating oxytocin as well as other happy brain chemicals and really being protective to our wellbeing [and] your brian.” She then gave us a few minutes to do some gratitude reflection. During this time, I could feel my mood lift a bit as I focused on my blessings instead of what I came into the seminar worried about.
Next up was the mood regulating neurotransmitter, Serotonin. Dr. Doyle-Thomas explained that serotonin boosting activities “really enhance our sense of inner peace and contentment.” A Singing Bowl Sound Meditation video was played during the seminar. I was not sure what to expect, as I have not done this type of activity before. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how I pretty much immediately felt calmer as it started playing.
Finally, Dr. Doyle-Thomas focused on our body’s natural pain killers, Endorphins. Exercise is of course a great option for producing endorphins. She shared that research shows how exercise has an impact “not only in promoting resilience, but on protecting our brain.” I definitely agree with her explanation of the benefits of endorphins. Exercise, laughter and creativity have been some of my favourite stress relievers throughout my life.
I found it really helpful to gain more understanding of how brain chemistry impacts mental health. It was also empowering to learn practical tips I can incorporate into my daily life to improve my well-being. I plan on taking what I have learned and applying it as a Safe and Effective Use of Self strategy because, as Dr. Doyle-Thoman reminded the group: “Deliberately activating DOSE is a valuable self-regulation strategy, helping you navigate your emotional work with resilience and authenticity.”