Endorphins are an opiate compound that your body produces during exercise or at times of stress, pain or excitement. These chemicals, produced by the hypothalamus and pitiutary glands, provide pain relief and induce feelings of well being. They are our natural pain relievers.
The Types of Endorphins and How They Work
Endorphins are a morphine-like substance produced by the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. Your brain releases endorphins when you enter a state of excitement, stress or pain. The endorphins bond with the same neural receptors in your brain that opiate drugs would bond too, and they produce feelings of euphoria and provide resistance to pain.
Endorphins have a number of functions in the body. They keep our appetites under control, help to regulate levels of sex hormones, reduce stress and pain and create feelings of happiness and well being.
Activities That Promote Endorphin Release
A number of commonplace activities are known for promoting the release of endorphins. Acupuncture therapy has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins. Our bodies naturally release endorphins when we're in pain or stressed, and when we have sex. Exercise, even exercise as mild as walking, releases endorphins. Meditation and massage have also been shown to promote the release of endorphins.
You Can Make Endorphins Anytime You Want
You can help your body release endorphins to promote pain relief and feelings of happiness anytime you want. Those who have frequent physical contact with loved ones are known to have consistently high levels of endorphins, and so are those who exercise regularly. Remember that the longer you keep your heart rate up, the more endorphins your brain will release. The more often you release high levels of endorphins, the higher your overall endorphin levels will remain, so exercising regularly is one of the best ways to keep your endorphin levels high.
Regular walking is a great way to steadily increase your overall endorphin levels. Cleaning house can release endorphins, due to the exercise you put in when you scrub, sweep and mop. Fast-paced dancing can release endorphins as well. Some other ways to promote endorphin release include:
- Eating spicy foods.
- Eating chocolate.
- Engaging in activities that scare you (e.g. sky diving).
- Getting plenty of sunshine.
- Listening to your favorite music.
- Thinking positively.
Anything you do that challenges you physically or mentally will raise your endorphin levels. It's the perfect excuse to try new things.
Activities that move you emotionally, like viewing art, reading literature and listening to music, also raise endorphin levels. It doesn't matter whether you go to a play or take a long walk in the woods--anything that gives you pleasure will boost your endorphin levels.