Getting up at 5am in order to get the first tracks. Going to the mountain at the opening to climb it yourself and make the first turns, alone in the world. Take time off work on a stormy day and brave the danger on the road to ski in mythical conditions. Study daily weather reports in a "schedule" format to determine THE best time to be there.
Non-skiers often wonder about the source of motivation that drives snow enthusiasts to all this mockery. If they try it, they will discover that the words ski and mountain combined constitute the adventure. It helps the average person manage their moods through a cocktail of those little chemicals inside us that make us feel things: hormones.
We are talking about dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphin, which are the four hormones that make us feel good, calm, connected and energized. Our intelligent brain produces them when it is experiencing an adventure. We remember them by the acronym D.O.S.E., which also reminds us that to be happy, we need our fix.
Dopamine : it gives motivation in front of the challenge
Depending on your skill level and temperament, speeding down a slope, jumping off a cliff, navigating through the tight trees of a dense forest, going backside on a snow park jump, or surveying an intermediate slope with the best of carving can all be identified as a challenge to the brain. When faced with these challenges, our brains come to associate them with a positive emotion, especially when we have the skills to meet them. The body secretes dopamine during these stimulating events which, among other things, provides a sense of reward and motivation. It gives you the determination to achieve your goals and desires. Once the stressful moment is over, the hormone is still in our heads and gives us the familiar euphoria that makes us want to do it all over again. Another descent then?
After several hours on the slopes, the countless releases of dopamine that we have experienced result in a massive increase in melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. This is why we sleep so well the night after a day in the mountains. The production of melatonin, fed by dopamine thanks to skiing, does its magic.
Oxytocin and serotonin: they make us feel emotions
Oxytocin and serotonin are similar in some ways as they are both hormones that help the social-emotional side of adventurous people by giving them a sense of confidence. The brain secretes them as soon as moderate physical exercise is practiced. Again, it is important to understand that this hormone production is available to everyone; the adventure itself is defined by who we are and what we need. While oxytocin is also known as the "love hormone", it is felt through the socialization that is done on the mountain. Whether it's in the lift or on your skis, being with our loved ones in a beautiful and rejuvenating natural environment is also part of the benefits of sport in our home. Serotonin gives us a feeling of well-being when we feel important. Thus, accomplishing our prowess in skiing or snowboarding makes us feel good and contributes to this phenomenon.
Endorphin: it gives us euphoria
Undeniably the best known of the four, endorphins release a brief euphoria that masks physical pain. Thanks to it, we quickly forget that our legs are tired, that our feet are getting cold and that we have been thirsty for two hours.
As soon as we move, as soon as we become active, as soon as we increase our heart rate, the famous endorphins surge through our body, and this, until several hours after the effort. This hormone provokes a feeling of well-being and relaxation, hence our zen-like, ear-to-ear smile when we return to our car after a trip to the mountains.
Our advice to ensure your D.O.S.E.
Don't wait for the perfect weather or the day when all your chores are done... get out to the mountain as soon as you can and choose the activity that suits you: downhill skiing and snowboarding, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, tobogganing, alpine hiking and off-trail. Then... repeat as many times as you can this winter!
Dose of mountain. Dose of happiness. Dose of well-being.