Vitality: The happy chemicals, energy and its impact on wellness

In this article, I will discuss the concept of vitality, including what it consists of and how it impacts physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy, as well as share some other ways you can improve your energy. 


What is vitality?

Vitality is what gives us the motivation or desire to do things. We can think of vitality as "prevention is better than cure". Vitality is said to have four elements and three dimensions. The four elements are:

  1. eat well
  2. sleep well
  3. exercise
  4. have mental balance

The three dimensions of vitality are physical (endurance, stamina and resistance to fatigue), mental (cognition, clarity, focus, memory and alertness) and sexual (desire and libido).

It is recommended that instead of being reactive, it is better to be proactive, hence, "prevention is better than cure".

The four elements of vitality 

1. Good nutrition and water

Good nutrition is about having a balanced diet (organic if possible, good fats and less sugar). Also, try to eat probiotics, nuts, seeds and pulses. You can also juice fruit and vegetables (there are several useful videos on YouTube about juicing) and take vitamins or supplements. An unbalanced diet is, in most cases, the cause of many lifestyle diseases and medical conditions.

Try to drink around two litres daily of water. It's suggested to ensure this is filtered, as tap water can contain many chemicals. Also, filtered water is likely to be cheaper than bottled water and more friendly to the environment depending on how it is packaged. My motto for drinking water and hydration is "Buy a water filter or be a filter". You could try a water filter jug, for example, and add a slice of lemon, cucumber, vitamin, supplement or quality flavouring. If you're looking for an alternative to sports drinks, coconut water contains electrolytes and is a good option.

Find out more about nutrition on Nutritionist Resource

2. Sleep well

You ideally need eight hours of sleep to recharge your energy levels. You need to unwind and be relaxed before going to bed. Try to have closure on any thoughts so you can have a deep sleep and have dreams (unconscious) and achieve REM sleep, so it balances out your conscious (life and reality when you are awake) and gives you mental balance.

Dreams can also be symbols or signs to help you in life as messages from your subconscious. An example is dreaming of falling. Some studies also suggest sleeping naked has positive effects on your health and relationship with your partner.  

3. Mental balance

Sleeping well helps mental balance but it is important to have closure in life and your thoughts, be comfortable in your own skin, and have positive thoughts and clarity. So simple closure, clarity and just living in the now is great (I recommend Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now). Also, try to expand the mind with research, and knowledge, and evaluate and analyse what you have learnt. Why believe when you can know? If you feel you need help with your mental health, feel free to reach out and ask for help – your GP, community groups or your church/faith.

Depression is caused by mainly dwelling on the past. Anxiety is caused by mainly worrying about the future. If you live in the present, this will give you inner peace and aid in mental balance. Because we normally only experience one emotion at a time, there are tools or hacks we can use.

To help us be more happy and present rather than worry about the past or the future, you can use this priming exercise which can be done daily and I recommend it for 28 days or one lunar cycle:

  1. Gratitude – think of three things that you’re grateful for.
  2. Love and healing  – Breath in love and healing, and breathe out sending love and healing to others.
  3. Manifest/law of attraction – think of three things that you desire, want to "manifest" or attract into your life. A. What do you want to achieve? B. What do you want to do/experience? Or C. What do you desire or want to attract in your life? The key here is to imagine it’s happening now or has already happened; your goal is ticked off, already been done or achieved.

4. Exercise

Try to do a variety of exercise two to four times a week – by yourself, with friends, groups, sports centres, events or online. This could be walking (going out for walks and exploring nature is also very healing), strengthening, toning, cardiovascular, stretching, flexibility, or massage. Examples include using resistance bands or your own body weight, running/cycling or doing yoga (why not try these 30 days of yoga with Adriene?) Don't forget to warm up and do a cool-down stretch, too. 

Sexual libido and desire are also considered to be important dimensions of vitality. I also recommend other holistic therapies like massage, bodywork, somatic bioenergetics, shake therapy, de-armouring, TRE trauma release exercises and art therapy.

Vitality and happiness

Toxins are interlinked with vitality and happiness. Try to 'reduce toxins' (i.e. smoking, alcohol, drugs etc.) as these are short-term fixes to being happy and don't really nourish you fully. Just for a short period, they make you feel happy, but they work against your natural vitality. Why have a short-term chemical fix when you can naturally produce happiness: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins?

Get your "DOSE" of the happy chemicals

There are four major chemicals in the brain that influence our happiness (DOSE): dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins.

By finding a way to activate each of these emotions and happy chemicals, you incorporate a little more happiness into your day, which in turn increases productivity, vitality and energy. 

Dopamine is what we normally think of as the happiness drug. However, that’s a big misconception. Dopamine is actually involved more with anticipation than the actual "happiness" feeling. Therefore it's a striving emotion (looking forward to things etc.) and the opposite of anxiety which is worrying about the future.

Oxytocin is released through closeness with another person. You may be less familiar with oxytocin unless you’ve heard of the cuddle hormone – they’re the same thing. However, it doesn’t have to be cuddling (your coworkers might not appreciate that!). It can also be triggered through social bonding, like eye contact, non-physical intimacy, connection and attentiveness. This helps strengthen existing bonds and relationships. Also, it can be achieved by having deep and meaningful connections with family, friends and your partner.

Serotonin is widely understood to control your greater mood. If you’re in a good mood, you’ve got serotonin to thank. And if you’re in a bad mood, you’ve got serotonin to blame. 80 percent of serotonin exists in the gut and is governed by your state of hunger. Get a little grumpy when you skip lunch? That's why. Living in the present and being happy in the moment also helps produce serotonin.

Endorphins are less prominent and responsible for masking pain or discomfort, which explains they’re association with the "fight or flight" mechanic. When it comes to designing happiness, endorphins help you "power through." For example with an avid runner, endorphins allow you to push farther and harder as you work towards distance goals. Mental balance is positive, not worrying about the past or future, but being in the present moment to achieve.

Emotional and spiritual energy and vitality

The above mainly covers energy and vitality in terms of the physical and mental, but what about our emotional and spiritual energy?   

Emotions – processing thoughts and emotions (energy in motion), if healthy, increase energy. Emotions decrease energy when in fight, flight, freeze, worry or negative or unhealthy thoughts. Self-love/self-care exercises like gratitude are good for wellness. Higher emotions of joy, happiness, bliss pleasure, etc promote energy, whilst negative emotions and thoughts drain our energy.  

Another element to consider is spiritual. We can also be motivated, energised and feel vitality through our faith, religion, and spirituality. Other examples are meditation, worship, prayer, pilgrimages, retreats, kundalini, and energy or chakra balancing techniques like Reiki, sound and crystal healing/therapy. 

Other areas of wellness that can improve our energy

In addition to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, there are five other areas which make up the nine areas of wellness that can also improve our energy, vitality and well-being. These are: financial, social, career, creative and environmental.

Polarity and grounding

In addition to the nine areas of wellness, I believe 'polarity and grounding' is another important element. 

"We are electro magnetic and grounding is beneficial for our well-being."

The heart or heart chakra at our centre emanates and generates the most electrical and magnetic fields (electromagnetic energy) in our body, so it’s not the brain. The heart is about 100 times stronger electrically than the brain and 5,000 times stronger magnetically than the brain – quotes from Greg Braden.  

The physical world is made up of these two forms of energy: electrical and magnetic-electromagnetic fields.

Some philosophies, metaphysics, traditions and religions believe that the higher chakras connect us to the Father Sky which is electric (positive charge) and lower chakras connect us to Mother Earth which is magnetic (negative charge).

Like electricity, our bodies benefit from grounding our energy by earthing. Please see 'The Earthing Movie' - The Remarkable Science of Grounding

Other hacks for improving energy 

Changing your language and moving your body can change your state and your energy. You can increase confidence, performance, personal power and risk tolerance using your physiology through body language (known as power poses). See this Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy – Fake it Till You Make it!

Some other suggested further research for energy, vitality and well-being:

  • ultradian rhythm
  • thymus tapping
  • EFT tapping – emotional freedom technique
  • grounding mats and bedsheets
  • massage and bodywork
  • de-armouring and somatic bioenergetics
  • TRE - trauma release exercises and shake therapy
  • art therapy

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Therapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Southampton SO19 & SO15
Written by Jason Wakefield
Southampton SO19 & SO15

Jason Wakefield - Holistic J

Civil Mediation Council Qualified Meditator
Counselling - Level 2
Meditation teacher
Life/Holistic/Couples/Spiritual/Emotional Intelligence Coach
Energy Healer
Somatic Bioenergetic/Bodywork Practitioner
International Practitioners of Holistic Medicine - Executive Therapist

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