Improving Mood Naturally: 7 Natural Ways to Release ‘Feel-Good’ Endorphins
How would you like to experience a rush of deep happiness? While feeling like this is usually only thought to be achievable through risky decisions like jumping off a cliff or some nefarious-type action like illegal drugs, it doesn’t have to be that way. Intense love is just one way to feel absolutely amazing, though there are certainly other ways to spark the flow of natural endorphins that pump into your blood stream, creating a euphoria-like state.
Endorphins are the natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals released by your brain when you are happy; you feel connected to others and you feel like you could conquer the world. These neurotransmitters produced in the brain work to reduce pain and suffering, says Alan Hirsch, MD, neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.
Natural Ways to Boost Endorphins and Feel Better
Here are 7 natural ways to get an endorphin rush without resorting to drastic measures:
- 1. Smell vanilla or lavender – While doing this won’t give you the exact same feeling as lying in bed with your significant other all day, it will cause the brain to release some of these feel good chemicals to boost your mood. In fact, vanilla is said to be an aphrodisiac to men, and can promote feelings of love and connection. You can add vanilla-extract to recipes or even your morning coffee and inhale deeply. Lavender oil added to a bath can make it absolutely heavenly.
- 2. Laugh – A little laughter can go a long way to boost those feel-good chemicals in your brain. Studies are showing that even ‘fake’ laughter can alter chemical responses in the brain, too. A nOxford professor says it isn’t the intellectual act of laughter but the physical one that makes those endorphins flow. Smiling can do the same for you.
- 3. Partake of Ginseng – This ancient herb Siberian herb has been used since the 6th century BC. It has even been known to help those with schizophrenia to calm their mental terrors. Take a little ginseng to help boost endorphin release by the brain.
- 4. Eat Dark Chocolate – Eating this one food can make your brain’s bliss-creating chemical cocktail go into overdrive. In addition to being an anti-depressant food, dark chocolate is also a natural analgesic, or pain killer – just a few dark chocolate health benefits.
- 5. Participate in Group Fitness – Exercise alone can help you to feel great, but studies are showing that getting physical with a group of people can boost endorphins even more than exercising solo. If you do exercise alone, make it vigorous. A good, hard workout can release more endorphins than a leisurely one.
- 6. Increase your Hot Pepper Use – Spicy foods have been known to release feel-good chemicals. They also naturally reduce the pain response.
- 7. Change Your Thoughts – Changing your thoughts doesn’t necessarily change the outcome of a situation, but it can change the way you feel on a day-to-day basis. Thinking positively can actually help to re-create the chemicals your brain most often creates and disseminates to the blood stream. Even science has proven that the way you think is the cornerstone to happiness and pushing through “negative” events.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.