5 WAYS TO INCREASE ENDORPHINS & FEEL-GOOD CHEMICALS
When I was 14, I remember watching Legally Blonde with Reese Witherspoon and absolutely adoring it. However, it was a specific quote in that movie that my girlfriends and I used to always recite, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don’t!” Oh Elle Woods, how I love you so.
Anytime I hear the word *endorphins* my mind instantly goes to that memory and I smile (how fitting, right?) But if you really think about what endorphins are it is quite powerful. Our brains and bodies were built to produce our own “natural highs.” Understanding and intentionally acting to produce endorphins is a superpower all on its own. Today I want to share with you 5 Ways to Increase Endorphins & Feel Good Chemicals.
1. Exercise Regularly
Thinking back to anytime in my life that I was going through a funk, I remember vividly forcing exercise into my routine no matter how busy. I took note that anytime I would start my day off with exercise, the endorphins released made me feel vibrant & happy (hence the name “runner’s high.”) It was always my go to when trying to get back into the right headspace.
Research shows that individuals who exercise regularly have added protection against depression, deal with anxiety better & also get better sleep. Here are some benefits of how exercise releases endorphins and improves your mood:
- Increases self-esteem; it makes us feel good when we take care of our own health
- Gives you a sense of accomplishment (due to dopamine)
- Increases energy levels and helps you to sleep through the night (thanks to adrenaline and serotonin)
- Keeps you motivated to continue trying and improving (due to dopamine)
- Leaves you with a happier, more optimistic, positive and energized outlook on life
2. Laugh More!
Have you ever stopped to think how good you feel when you laugh? Laughter is a quick-fix for feeling almost instantly better due to the release of endorphins. Research has even linked laughter with an elevated pain threshold (I can definitely agree with this one.) So what makes you laugh and how can you do more of it? Try regularly doing something that puts a smile on your face. Maybe you have a favorite comedian or tv show, a friend that always makes you laugh, playing with children, recalling a funny moment, the list is endless. Anytime I need a good laugh I have specific memories that I recall and I just lose it. Laughing is genuinely one of my favorite things in the world to do - and we all need more of it!
3. Connect with Others (Including Physical Touch, Volunteering & Finding Purpose)
If there is one thing on this planet that we don’t talk about enough, it is the genuine happiness that comes from human connection; we absolutely crave it. Physical touch such as embracing in a loving hug, volunteering to help others or having a deep conversation with another soul, releases oxytocin and other chemicals that keep you feeling calm and comforted.
Anytime I see my grandparents, I just adore giving them long, loving hugs. It always puts a smile on my face and warms my soul & I know the feeling is mutual. Don’t forget to give your loved ones hugs, foster healthy relationships, & reach out to others in need. When you find a sense of purpose from helping others, notice how marvelous you feel from giving without expecting anything in return.
4. Spend Time Outside
Sometimes when I take my dog Benji out for a walk, I shut my eyes, put my head back and allow the sun to hit my face ever so gently. I take in that moment and let myself feel at peace. When you expose yourself to nature and the sun for about 20 minutes daily, it helps your skin to absorb UV rays and produces vitamin D, which is essential for your mood (Don’t forget your SPF!) Nature and sunshine also regulate the release of neurochemicals such as melatonin and serotonin.
5. Incorporate Soothing Tastes, Smells & Essential Oils Into Routine
The power of scent is something that always blows my mind. Certain smells or fragrances can bring me back in an instant to a memory almost as if I am right there reliving it. Aromatherapy or smelling something that reminds you of a comforting memory (fresh baked cookies) has been linked to the release of endorphins. Essential oils like lavender, vanilla, rose & chamomile can make you feel calmer instantly.
Similarly, when you consume “guilty pleasures” it has the same effect. Think about when you eat a piece of dark chocolate and you are savoring every bite as it puts such a smile on your face, bringing a feeling of comfort. This is due to the release of chemicals like theobromine. The same goes for alcohol related endorphins. According to studies, drinking alcohol can release a small amount of feel-good hormones (especially when you are bonding with friends). However too much can actually cause the opposite effects. As I like to say, everything in moderation!
Here's to increasing those endorphins! Which one are you most likely to utilize first?