Endorphins are neurotransmitters that have two main functions: to help you deal with pain and to boost your mood. They are natural compounds that are released in the body when you get injured. You also experience a natural endorphin release when you do something pleasurable.
Benefits of Endorphins
Releasing endorphins can reduce your stress levels and combat depression and anxiety. An endorphin rush feels pleasurable and can boost your self-esteem, making you feel happy and relaxed. Researchers believe that endorphins can fight inflammation and improve your immune system. The release of endorphins triggers a natural high, similar to the buzz of getting tipsy on alcohol or meeting someone you are attracted to.
The easiest way to release a rush of endorphins is exercise. On average, 30 minutes of moderate exercise such as jogging or cycling can release endorphins, although some people experience the rush sooner. The exercise rush is often referred to as a runner’s high and may explain why some people become addicted to exercising.
Listening to your favorite songs can release endorphins. Hospitals sometimes use music to help patients cope with pain and discomfort. For the best results, choose upbeat songs that make you smile and listen to them regularly. Singing along, even badly, can boost your endorphin levels.
Meditation has numerous effects on brain chemistry and structure. Brain scans of Buddhist monks show that long-term meditation can change the gray matter of the brain and rewire neural pathways. In the short term, meditation releases endorphins and is a way to experience a quick high and boost your mood. Practice mindful breathing at various points in the day, particularly when you are likely to experience stress. Guided meditation and yoga also release endorphins and are good ways to start or end your day.
Eating sugary or high-carb foods temporarily boosts your mood but can also lead to a sugar crash later, making you feel agitated and jittery. Dark chocolate can stimulate an endorphin release without the negative effects later. A square or two of dark chocolate won’t mess with your blood sugar, and the high cocoa content stimulates a release of endorphins.
Laughing releases endorphins, which is why comedy shows can perk you up. Simply going through the physical motions of laughter can stimulate an endorphin release and boost your mood. Laughter yoga classes tap into the physiology of laughter and release endorphins.
Your body releases endorphins to help you cope with the pain. The brain interprets eating hot, spicy food as painful and releases endorphins in the same way. Be careful not to overdo it, as eating too much spicy food can harm your stomach health, but a dash of spice can boost your endorphin levels instantly.
Triggering an endorphin release is relatively easy. The buzz is natural and safe. Although chasing an endorphin rush can become mildly addictive, it’s a milder form of addiction than using substances or endlessly scrolling social media. If you find yourself overdoing exercise, try to vary the ways you trigger an endorphin release to ensure you are keeping your body safe and healthy. Allow for rest days so your muscles can recover.