Endorphins, what exactly are they and how are they linked to happiness? Endorphins are essentially feel good chemicals, neurotransmitters in the brain that pass signals from one neuron to the next. An endorphin release will diminish the perception of pain, act as a sedative and respond to certain stimuli such as fear, stress or pain. In other words, endorphins are our very own happiness regulator.
Natural endorphins are a wonderful thing, they enhance our experience with things that bring us pleasure and reinforce the reward trigger in our brain for activities such as eating and having sex – things we need to continue to do for survival purposes. An endorphin rush can also induce feelings of euphoria in the mind, a state of intense happiness or excitement.
So what can we do to get the most out of these feel good chemicals? There are lots of ways to boost the neurotransmitters in your brain and get them to work in your favour – here are a few ideas for how to increase endorphins naturally.
Eat Spicy Foods – Eating a hot chilli pepper isn’t for everyone, and in fact spicy food is not a taste sensation but a feeling of pain that is caused from a chemical that binds to the protein or pain receptors in the nose and mouth. The painful, burning feeling is offset by the body’s desire to regulate and remove the pain so endorphins are released in order to do so.
Have A Good Belly Laugh – Unsurprisingly, laughing causes us to experience an endorphin rush and can instantly make us feel good. You can fake laughing to trigger the response but nothing works better than a proper from the belly laugh so hang out with someone guaranteed to give you a giggle.
Make Love – Sex is one of the best mood boosters there is, it has multiple health benefits for both body and mind and ensures an endorphin release. As well as endorphins, sex also reduces stress, relaxes us, burns calories and releases other feel good chemicals such as the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin, promoting warm and fuzzy feelings within us.
Eat Chocolate – Chocolate makes us happy, most of you probably already know that! For fans of milk chocolate, it is unfortunately the dark variety that carries most of the health benefits and, even worse, you only need a few squares a week to fulfil your chocolate related health requirements. This aside, dark chocolate has been proven to protect against heart attack and stroke, lower blood pressure, and contains mood boosting properties such as phenethylamine which boosts the release of endorphins into the body.
Aromatherapy – It doesn’t contain the word therapy for nothing, certain essential oils when inhaled are thought to stimulate brain function and promote feelings of wellbeing. In particular, vanilla is thought to lower anxiety and one study showed that lavender improves symptoms of depression and insomnia. Light a vanilla candle or keep some lavender oil beside your bed to make you at ease before you sleep.
There are so many ways to naturally boost your endorphins without resorting to alcohol, drugs or medication so try some of our methods and see what works for you. Chasing a natural high is far better for your health and will add to your happiness and quality of life, not take away from it like every artificial narcotic will do in the long run.