Understanding The Role Of Endorphins In Boosting Mental Health
The feeling of being “high” you get after you eat chocolate, after a good workout, or after watching your favorite show – those feelings are caused by the release of endorphins in our body.
The word “endorphins” originates from the words endogenous (meaning within the body) and morphine (the opiate pain reliever). In a nutshell, endorphins are our body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins are typically released in response to a specific situation such as eating your favorite food, engaging in your favorite activity, or when experiencing something stressful or painful.
Benefits Of Endorphins
Endorphins have many positive effects on our mental and physical wellbeing. This hormone also helps us cope with stressful situations. Some of the other benefits of endorphins are:
With 30-45 minutes of regular exercise, the rush of endorphins can help reduce symptoms of mild depression.
Effects Of Low Endorphins
A deficiency of endorphins in the body can cause a person to feel:
- An increase in depression & anxiety
- Constant mood swings
- An increase in joint and muscle aches
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble with addiction
- Low impulse control
Increasing Endorphins Naturally
To increase endorphins, a person doesn’t need to something outrageous like run a marathon or engage in an intense workout session. While working out and jogging might help increase endorphins, there are other ways to increase the body’s natural painkillers. Some of them are pretty easy:
1. Eating Dark Chocolate
Eating dark chocolate or chocolate with higher levels of cocoa can help in the release of endorphins. It helps increase feelings of happiness and pleasure. Eat a piece of chocolate the next time you feel stressed and anxious and feel the magic of endorphins in your body and mind.
30 minutes of physical exercise can help in the release of endorphins. Exercising regularly for 30-45 minutes can help you feel the rush of endorphins and make you feel relaxed and happy.
3. Listening To Music
Listening to music or even making music is a great way to boost those endorphins. Simply listening to music can make you feel calm, relaxed, and reduce stress. Music can also help people get better if they are recovering from post-surgery or pain.
4. Engaging In Performing Arts
Just like listening to music, engaging in performing arts such as dance, art, or theatre can help release endorphins and can make you feel pleasure. Dancing can act as a substitute for a mild workout too.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine alternative that uses thin needles to stimulate the various pressure points in our body. Acupuncture can help relieve chronic pain, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and PMS symptoms. This is a safe method and can help boost the rush of endorphins to make you feel relaxed and happy.
Meditation has many benefits for both physical and mental health. Practicing meditation can help you feel relaxed and calm. Other benefits of meditation include a boost in mood, enhanced sleep, and an increased ability to cope with illnesses – mental and physical.
Aromatherapy is another great way to boost endorphins. This therapy treatment helps in relieving stress and anxiety. Lavender, rosemary, citrusy fragrances, ylang-ylang, and frankincense are particularly helpful in helping in the release of endorphins.
8. Laughing With Friends
Laughing with your friends and family can help you lift your spirits and reduce anxiety and stress. Laughter therapy, a CBT technique, is also a good source if you’re looking for something to help you release happy chemicals into your mind and body. Watching a comedy show, movie, or TV series can also help release endorphins.
10. Act Of Kindness
Performing an act of kindness towards someone doesn’t just benefit the other person but it also helps increase endorphins and improve your mental wellness. Volunteering at a shelter, donating something, or just spending time with someone you care about can be a great way to feel good about yourself and spread cheer.
11. Spend Time Outdoors
Spending some time outdoors in sunlight is also good for your health. Sunlight helps increase Vitamin D and boost serotonin which can help in improving your mood and make you feel relaxed. Prolonged sunlight exposure can, however, increase the risk of skin cancer. Enjoy the benefits of sunlight but with care and in moderation.
There is a significant difference between endorphins and dopamine. Dopamine helps in boosting mood while endorphins help in pain and stress relief. A high level of endorphins results in higher levels of dopamine in the body.
Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and are helpful in feeling less pain and more pleasure. Every person’s adaptation to endorphins in their system is different. If the above-mentioned activities don’t seem to help you lift your mood and reduce pain, consult your primary health care provider for a much effective treatment.
There may not be definite evidence and understanding of the role of endorphins in the body but it is clear that this hormone does help us feel better and happy.
Next time, you feel stressed and anxious about any situation; break a piece of chocolate, enjoy a laugh with your friends, meditate, listen to your favorite music, or watch your favorite movie or TV series.
“There is something so rewarding about dancing. It’s almost spiritual – you let loose, you feel free, you get endorphins from the exercise.” – Julianne Hough