Endorphins are chemicals found in your brain that transmit electrical signals within your nervous system. These neurotransmitters are commonly released during times of stress and pain. They play a key role in reducing your perception of pain and stress by interacting with opiate receptors, leading to the feeling of euphoria. When you carry high endorphin levels, you decrease the negative effects of stress. So, just how do endorphins fight stress?
The Role of Endorphins
Endorphins are polypeptides, or chains of amino acids, that bind to the neuroreceptors in your brain. This provides pain relief that is 18 to 500 times as powerful as man-made analgesics. They are what give you the power to push through strenuous activities. They’re also what attracts some people to dangerous events like skydiving or bungee jumping. They even produce what is known as a “second wind” during endurance activities that allow athletes to continue going long after glucose stores are burned up.
Endorphins are normally produced during periods of extreme stress to actually block pain signals produced by the nervous system. The release of endorphins has also been shown to control cravings for addictive substances and foods, control feelings of stress and frustration, and regulate the production of sex and growth hormones.
Activities to Elevate Endorphin Levels
Though everyone releases endorphins at different states in different amounts, you can still perform various activities to stimulate the release of endorphins. You may not find a better stress relieving substance than the natural release of endorphins in your system.
- Exercise. You understand the positive physical effects exercise has on your body, but what about the emotional positivity it produces? A high level of physical activity stimulates the production and release of endorphins. During intense activity, you experience that moment when your level of discomfort dissipates and you actually feel blissful while performing strenuous movements.
- Laugh out Loud. Laughter is a great stress reliever because it causes you to let go of emotions. Laughing naturally releases those “feel good” chemicals and helps you get rid of stress. Next time you feel stressed, get together with some friends and just get silly.
- Eat Something Exciting. Foods such as chocolate and chili peppers cause your body to release endorphins. That is why so many people find comfort when eating chocolate. If you go for chocolate, find a variety that has at least 70% pure cocoa. It is rich in cholesterol-controlling flavonoids.
- Rev up in the Bedroom. Getting intimate not only makes you feel sexy, but it also releases hormones that make you feel happy. Not only will a healthy sex life put a little bounce back in your step, but it also provides you with a great calorie-burning full-body workout.
- Meditate. A period of meditation at the end of your day leaves you feeling refreshed and generates a positive sense of wellbeing. This state of total relaxation changes the patterns in your brain waves, triggering the release of endorphins. This good feeling lingers around for quite some time after your rejuvenation session.