Among the most vital hormones produced by the anterior pituitary gland is endorphin. The main function of this chemical is to cause lasting happiness and satisfaction. It could also serve as an analgesic, or a substance that reduces the sensation of pain.
There are several ways by which endorphins can naturally be released in the body.
How To Release The Happy Hormones “Endorphins”
1. Physical activities
First, engage in physical activities. Studies show that people who exercise regularly tend to have an increased release of endorphins. This is responsible for the phenomenon called “runner’s high,” wherein a physically active individual experiences happiness in the middle of a strenuous exercise. However, ordinary body movement will not release the happy hormones. Instead, you must engage in either cardiovascular exercises or extensive muscle training to stimulate the highest response.
Another advantage of exercising is that you have more functional organ systems. Because you feel healthier, increased generation of endorphins occurs to promote happiness and self-contentment.
A study also showed that engaging in a group exercise is more effective in increasing endorphin levels. Aside from having a support system during your workout, a group exercise also boosts the release of this hormone.
Another method is through eating chocolate. Do you remember how your parents would give you chocolates after feeling emotional or distressed? You may have thought that the happiness you felt upon eating those sweets was caused by your strong preference for chocolate. Even though this may partly be a reason, there is actually a scientific basis for the elation felt after eating chocolate. Eating chocolates stimulate the release of endorphins, which directly stimulate the brain to generate emotions of joy and pleasure. This sweet food also contains a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA) which directly causes a feel-good effect.
Third, meditation practices release the happy hormones in the body. Scientists believe that yoga reduces stress because of endorphin release. These serve as “feel good chemicals” and natural analgesics. The controlled breathing during yoga also contributes to the release of the said hormone.
Alcohol intake also stimulates the release of endorphins. This explains why some drinkers use alcohol as a means of escaping their problems. Whenever an individual becomes too stressed with difficulties, he or she initially drinks alcohol to experience relaxation and to take his or her mind off reality. This compound immediately acts on the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex to release endorphins in response to alcohol consumption.
NB!! Too much alcohol also changes the brain structure of heavy drinkers, which makes alcohol more addictive and more pleasurable to them. Excessive release of endorphins contributes to a person’s increased likelihood to develop alcohol addiction.
Another way to release the happy hormones is by smiling. Once you smile, the facial muscles are automatically stretched. The movement of these muscles then triggers the brain to produce endorphins. Smiling does not just lighten the mood, but also frees your inner stress. So whenever you are feeling down, one way to lighten up the mood is by attempting to smile, even if it is a fake one. This is because any smile, even a faux one, still stretches the muscles and contributes to increased endorphin release.
6. Spicy dishes
Aside from the chocolate intake discussed earlier, consumption of spicy dishes also increases endorphin release. When your mouth feels the spiciness, the brain’s outright reaction is to release the happy hormones. The spicier your food is, the more nerve cells are stimulated to release endorphins.
7. Vanilla scent
Furthermore, researchers claim that vanilla scent can release the happy hormones. In a study published by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, it was stated that MRI of depressed patients showed a significant decline in anxiety upon smelling the aroma of vanilla. This is due to the increase in endorphin levels even after a few drops of vanilla extract.
Lavender aroma also stimulates endorphin production, leading to decreased depression and insomnia. In a study conducted among college students, a substantial decline in anxiety levels was observed. By applying lavender extract on the neck, wrists, hair or temples, the scent immediately diffuses to be inspired through the nasal opening.
Ginseng is a well-known herb due to its effect in improving blood sugar control and reducing weight. However, ginseng can also be used by lethargic individuals because this enhances the production of endorphins. This “feel good” effect occurs by inhibiting the release of stress hormones as well as supporting the organs that produce endorphins. Since it maintains the condition of the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems, an individual feels elated, causing a positive feedback to promote further release of endorphins.
If you do not want herbs, laughing is a method that can significantly help you release the happy hormone. Research shows that people who laugh more often release higher levels of endorphin in a day. In fact, statistics depict that children who laugh approximately 300 times per day are shown to release more endorphins relative to adults who only laugh about 5 times per day. Hence, you should make it a daily habit to joke and laugh with your friends. Aside from releasing stress, laughing will also increase endorphins in your system.
Since laughing increases endorphin levels, you might assume that crying does the opposite effect. However, this is not the case! Crying also promotes endorphin release because an individual experiences immediate relaxation after breaking down. After crying, a person becomes comfortable and relieved after releasing the tension. This further enhances endorphin levels in the body.
Sex is another activity that balances your hormone levels. Being intimate with your partner greatly enhances your mood and alleviates tension in the body. This leads to a subsequent release of endorphins that promote joy and satisfaction with the company of your partner.
12. Natural happiness
Finally, natural happiness is one of the most effective ways to release the happy hormone. By staying optimistic, you become happier and more relaxed with your life. Hence, your brain receives signals to release more endorphins to further enhance your mood. Thus, if you want a simple and immediate way of releasing endorphins, maintain a positive outlook in life.
Endorphins are called the “happy hormones” because the release of these substances makes a person extremely joyful and uplifted. Hence, it is essential that you know the different methods by which endorphins are released from the body.
Photo: Chris Zerbes