Four hormones determine a human’s happiness – Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin. Our body regulates the way we feel with chemicals called neurotransmitters and each of these have its own role to play. It is essential we understand these hormones and how to boost them – after all, our happiness depends on them!
Understanding ways to boost your endorphin levels may help you find effective ways to deal with stress and lead a happier life.
Endorphins. They are your own private narcotic. Its effect on us is similar to that of morphine but without the addiction. Endorphins are neurotransmitters, chemicals that pass along signals from one neuron to the next as a response to specific stimuli such as stress, or pain. They originate in several parts of your body – the pituitary gland, spinal cord, and regions of your brain and nervous system. They interact with receptors in cells found in parts of the brain responsible for controlling emotions and blocking pain.
Endorphins (or a lack thereof) may be responsible for specific forms of mental illness such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, clinical depression or sudden shifts in emotions. It’s interesting to note that they may also be responsible for heightened states of rage or anxiety. If your endorphins work over-time (more like misreading a code), you could experience a flood of “fight-or-flight” hormone at the slightest hint of a troublesome situation.
5 natural ways to boost endorphins
Exercise: Heard of ‘joggers high’? Every time we exercise, the body releases endorphins. Ever noticed the happy feeling you get after a good work-out session? That’s endorphins at play! This hormone even helps the body cope with the pain of exercise. We then start to enjoy it and look forward to it.
Laughter: Another excellent way of generating endorphins. Watch things that make you go ‘hahaha’! It is observed that children laugh about 300 times a day whereas adults have an average of 8 times a day! Laughter is also called ‘inner jogging.’ Studies show that it can drastically lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, boost immune functions by raising levels of infection-fighting cells, and produce a sense of well-being.
Volunteer: ‘The best way to receive is to give’ – there really is something to it! Lead study author and University of Oregon economics professor Bill Harbaugh said, “People experience even more brain activation when they give voluntarily,.” So the next time you see a friend or colleague involved in a cause you feel for, engage and volunteer.
Meditation (or control breathing techniques): Meditation not only brings a change in the brain’s chemicals but also increases the grey matter! In simpler words, the more you meditate, the better the connections in your brain functions. Since meditation is about living in the moment, controlled breathing practice helps ease stress, anxiety, and worry. This is because meditation releases endorphins. It encourages ‘brain synchronization,’ which is the ability to use both sides of your brain together.
Make Music: Here’s an interesting fact – if a musical app like Spotify brings you pleasure: Your brain oozes out even more endorphins when you actively take part in creating some sort of music. Pull out that stringed instrument or the sound mixer that’s been in the cupboard for long! Its okay if you are not trained in music or instrument. All you need to do is tap, hum, or dance along to your favorite tunes.