Natural Ways to Boost Endorphins
Endorphins are natural painkillers your body produces that regulate moods and emotions.
The chemicals bind specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord (mainly those involved with pleasure and pain control). Upon binding, endorphins create feelings of pleasure, and even euphoria, while they reduce stress. Experts believe that endorphins account for the relaxed state of mind runners get known as “runner’s high.”
“When you release endorphins, you just feel good.” (Jesse Metcalfe)
Since endorphins make you feel good, you might wonder how you can boost your body’s own production of endorphins. Let’s examine what science shows can boost your endorphin level for added stress reduction, peace, and contentment.
Get a Move On
If you want to up your endorphin release, move more! Most people understand that exercise is a healthy habit, but fewer understand how powerful a tool exercise can be for boosting mood and mental health. If you’re feeling down for any reason (or no reason at all), start moving and get the endorphins flowing! Exercise, particularly aerobic activities like running, causes your body to release more of these stress-relieving chemicals.
You don’t have to be an avid runner or gym rat to reap these benefits--even simple habits like taking a brisk walk in the morning can boost endorphins. Plus, exercise can help you sleep better and improve your cardiovascular health. If you’re feeling down for any reason (or no reason at all), start moving and get the endorphins flowing! You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel after even 10 minutes of brisk exercise.
Smile and Laugh
The old saying is true--laughter is the best medicine! Laughter boosts endorphin release, sending a barrage of pain and stress-relieving endorphins throughout your body. A study found that when you laugh, portions of your brain, including the caudate nucleus, thalamus, and anterior insula regions of the brain release endorphins. Plus, laughter is contagious--when people laugh together, it improves relationships and makes everyone feel more confident and relaxed.
Meditation is one of the easiest and most effective ways to boost endorphins. One study found that people who meditated and those who ran had similar endorphin release. So, you can get the calming effects of endorphins by running or meditating.
Meditation is a very simple process:
• Sit in a comfortable chair.
• Close your eyes.
• Focus on your breathing.
Just by focusing on breathing, your heart rate and blood pressure lower so that you enter deep relaxation. Regular meditation not only boosts endorphins but also lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Meditating can help you get a better night’s sleep too.
Eat Spicy Food
Do you feel a sense of pleasure when you eat spicy foods? Endorphins may play a role! Researchers at the Colgan Institute discovered that capsaicin, a compound in hot peppers, stimulates endorphin release for a mood boost. Maybe that’s why people feel happier and more alert after eating spicy dishes. Select low-sodium versions of your favorite spicy dishes to get a boost in endorphins. Capsaicin is also known to reduce pain and is an ingredient in some topical creams used to treat achy joints.
Make Music or Dance
Do you play an instrument or dance? Do it more often! A study found that singing, dancing, and drumming stimulate endorphin release and help release stress. In the past, experts believed passive listening to music was enough to boost endorphins, but a study found it’s making music or moving to music that enhances their release.
Get a Massage or Acupuncture
Massage and acupuncture can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. Acupuncture stimulates nerves in various parts of the body, which increases endorphin production. If you aren’t a fan of needles or want something less intense, try a foot massage! Another option is to add a massage chair to your office, so you can get a relaxing massage during breaks. A whole-body massage increases circulation and lymphatic flow and helps relax tight muscles.
Endorphins are nature’s pain and stress relievers. And there’s no need to worry about side effects since these methods don’t involve drugs or medications--only the power within! Now you know some ways to increase your body’s natural endorphin production and feel better when you’re stressed out. Plus, there’s evidence that endorphins balance the immune system, so you can get additional health benefits from activities that increase endorphins.
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