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  • Chris Statham

Embracing your physiology for inspiration and well-being

We are staring 2022 and I’m sure many of you have made New Year’s resolutions, I certainly have. Some of mine are easier to achieve than others, but one thing I do know is how my body reacts and what is the best way to generate creativity.

Do you sometimes search for inspiration but don’t know where to locate it? What about feeling down and wanting to feel up? Do you want these two things to happen at the same time? I do.

If you want to reach into your sub-conscious and / or let your imagination run wild, while also feeling good there are two things you can do.

Option 1 — have a drink for inspiration

Whether your tipple is a dram of Scotch, a pint of beer, a glass of wine, a shot of vodka, or for wealthier readers, a flute of Champagne, physiologically, ethanol, the mojo in booze, passes through cell walls to be broken down in the liver, the excess going to all corners of the body and quickly affects our digestive system, motor and brain functions.

Neurotransmitters are catalysed by ethanol molecules, and our brain gives us contradictory impulses. Glutamate tells us to do crazy stuff, whereas gamma-aminobutyric acid, Gaba, tells us to shut the fuck up and sit down. In essence, your active signals are dulled and sedative ones amplified. Your active functions are depressed while at the same time ethanol speeds up the release of our happy chemical, dopamine. Our brain function is reduced all the while we have a greater sense of euphoria.

Option 2 — do some exercise to feel better

Personally I like to go for a run, or at least a brisk walk — I find it helps to organise my thoughts. And then there are the physiological benefits.

You have probably heard of the runner’s high, the feeling of euphoria long distance runners get. Why does this happen? Blood endorphin levels rise in response to exercise, and endorphins are linked to positive emotions. More specifically, as blood is pumped round our grey matter, there are changes on opioid receptor activity in prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex. Trust me, I needed Goggle to find this information out. It is these areas of the brain which are responsible for mood regulation. When there is an increase in endorphins there is a corresponding increase in euphoria.

Why is this you may well ask? In the early days of man when we moved from the trees to the savanna, we were easy pray for the carnivores; we also had to from new strategies to hunt. Being a biped that can sweat, allowed us to go on long hunts where we could quite literally exhaust the pants of a fine looking four legged piece of steak. Not only would our bellies be full, but we would also be feeling great from our runners high, which is also conveniently a natural painkiller to exhaustive exercise. Humans are born to run, we are designed for endurance activities and experience physiological rewards for doing so.

Option 3 — exercise and drink at the same time.

I know I said there were two options, but actually there is a third. For as long as I can remember, from the taste of my first pint of beer in a pub, I have enjoyed drinking and then going for a walk.

Last Friday, I’d had a few at home and then went for about a one-hour walk to meet friends at a bar. During my walk, ideas were firing out of my mind on all cylinders. Arriving at the boozer, I felt thirsty but great. I had also solved the twenty plus year riddle of why I enjoy walking and drinking — the dual physiological benefits.

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