Part 3: Endorphins – Natural painkillers
Endorphins are natural painkillers. A rush of deep happiness. A blissful state. Euphoria. Reduces pain and suffering.
These neuropeptides are kept in the anterior pituitary gland giving a morphine-like sensation. Huh? Okay, endogenous opioids and catecholamines produced by the body – wait, they produce naturally? Did we just cure the opioid crisis? Did I just dig up a term – catecholamines – that I haven’t used since my days of working in a hospital lab? Enough jargon. How do we get them?
A couple ways to boost endorphins with food are: Dark chocolate – gimme more, hot peppers, or other spicy foods.
Other ways to heighten these euphoric hormones naturally:
You can naturally boost endorphins by sex or masturbation – of course we mentioned that one first. A natural state of bliss. With a partner, partners, or solo, you’ll have yourself a good time.
Another way to give endorphins a jolt is by exercise. Think of exercise like an old school bicycle pump. You’re pumping endorphins from to the brain to achieve that nirvanic feeling. We never seem to find time for working out, but when we do, we always say we’re glad we did it, and feel more confident at the pool. Look at people who exercise daily. They started out just like you. It was hard. They were lazy. But once they made it a routine, it became a…well, drug. Hold it. Let’s not go as far to call them opioid addicts.
No need to aim on gracing Sports Illustrated. Sounds like quite an ego boost, but a simple aerobic exercise like hiking, walking or biking to the store rather than driving will suffice. Unless you’re into extreme sports, hey, to each her own.
Get a dog. Dogs rule! They are accountability buddies who won’t talk your ears off. They keep you from isolating by needing to go out a few times a day. Active dogs will keep you running, jumping, and doing all sorts of silly behavior. They give you unconditional love and you give it right back, fulfilling that maternal instinct (another jolt to endorphins). If that’s too much, senior dogs will still keep you active and there are plenty in the shelters. Taking slow walks and building muscle when they need to be carried, not to mention the cuteness overload from the geriatric canines who are hard of hearing, on heart meds, or losing teeth, just like our grandparents.
Fitness routines can be as simple as a mild hike to strenous like becoming an avid runner. Not to mention what this does for cardio, the immune system, and digestion. If you’re not a gym rat, use the fire escape stairs or stairs of a parking garage and get endorphins, cardio, and a butt lift at the same time.
Become a parent – this can take a little longer, finding a partner or going through the process of foster or adoption. There are lots of children and teens in need of a forever home. The maternal bond is pretty euphoric and it never goes away, no matter how old the child gets.
Acupuncture, meditation, laughter, massage, and aromatherapy, taking Siberian ginseng, deep love for another, and the human connection all help you feel ready to take on the world!
Give a gift. Volunteer. Gifts and volunteering can be incorporated into any of the things mentioned above for a double, triple, quadruple boost.
How to screw up your endorphins? Oh boy…
S-T-R-E-S-S. Change jobs. End toxic relationships. Work on yourself. Move to an area you love. Follow your dreams and goals one step at a time. Treat yourself. None of these have to be expensive or fancy. Write gratitude lists. For situations you are struggling with, do something about the things you can, and if you can’t, then accept it. Let go.
Most importantly, love yourself, your body. Each and every individual is worthy enough and deserves to have a happy, fulfilling life, no matter how they were raised, finances, education level, mistakes, race, religion, ability, or sexual preference. Make a list of what you have accomplished thus far in your life. You are a wonderful human. I promise.