Have you ever found yourself engaged in an activity that brought you pleasure and happiness? This is one of the best feelings in the world, and it’s known as a ‘natural high.’ A natural high is an activity that boosts feel-good chemicals in the brain without the use of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, people often assume that in order to get a ‘high,’ they need to use substances, but this isn’t the case.
There are wholesome ways to boost endorphins in the brain without using harmful, addictive substances. Better yet, when you engage in these healthy activities, you don’t have to deal with the potential for health problems, overdose and depressing come-downs. The key is knowing how to experience pleasure without drugs or alcohol, and finding which activities make you happiest.
Below are some ways to boost endorphins and start enjoying natural highs that bring you pleasure and satisfaction in your everyday life.
What are Endorphins? What are they Responsible For?
Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that help you cope with pain and maintain an optimal sense of well-being. They’re responsible for reducing anxiety and depression, improving self-esteem, regulating appetite and enhancing the immune system. Sometimes you might even notice your endorphins ‘working,’ such as when you get that great feeling after exercising or having a good laugh with a friend.
Endorphins are necessary to our everyday existence. They are nature’s way of helping us cope with pain and experience pleasure. Without endorphins, our lives would be much less enjoyable. Therefore, it’s important to balance your endorphins, otherwise, your body will be thrown out of whack.
For instance, when your endorphins are at a normal level, you’ll have better immunity, improved self-esteem, reduced anxiety and depression, decreased pain and a better appetite and sleep cycle. But when your endorphins run low, you’re more likely to experience depression, anxiety, mood swings, aches and pains, impulsivity and problems with sleeping.
How Do Drugs Like Opioids Affect Endorphins?
People abuse drugs and alcohol for all sorts of reasons. Once the cycle of abuse starts, it’s hard to stop and an addiction can form. Drugs like opioids trigger the release of endorphins to help you deal with pain. The trouble is that when the drug wears off, you might find yourself wanting those ‘good’ feelings back as soon as possible.
When you take opioids repeatedly over time, your body slows its production of endorphins. The same dose of opioids stops producing such a good feeling, which is referred to as tolerance. Now you need a higher dose to trigger the same feelings, which is often how the cycle of abuse starts.
Fortunately, doctors are more aware of the risks of opioids, so most won’t renew or increase a patient’s dose. But it’s still possible to develop a tolerance to opioids, causing you to look in other places to experience pleasure and happiness. This is the very reason why there’s been a massive spike in heroin and fentanyl overdoses.
And it’s not just opioids that have these effects on endorphins. Marijuana mimics the body’s natural neurotransmitters and causes abnormal messaging, changing how these chemicals work. Alcohol also releases endorphins, and this increase can lead to an endorphin deficiency in habitual drinkers.
How to Release Endorphins Naturally
There are more than 20 endorphins in the body. Beta-endorphins have been studied most and are responsible for stress relief and pain management. As a matter of fact, they have a stronger effect than morphine on the body, so it’s worth learning how to release them naturally, especially when recovering from a substance use disorder.
Below are some ways to release endorphins so that you can fight depression, relieve stress and anxiety, improve self-image and fight addiction.
- Exercise. Exercise is one of the best ways to release endorphins. The more you exercise, the more endorphins your body will produce. This is why many people feel a ‘runner’s high’ when they work out.
- Meditation. Meditation slows down the brain, reduces stress and anxiety and creates a sense of calm. People who meditate regularly report better moods, greater control over their emotions and greater resilience to stress.
- Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is a relatively new method for helping people deal with trauma, anxiety and depression. It works to calm overactive brain waves by triggering the release of endorphins.
- Smile and laugh. Anyone can reach a level of euphoria by laughing. Even forcing yourself to laugh can be beneficial. That’s because laughing triggers the brain’s feel-good hormones, having an instant effect on the mood.
Start Building a Resilient Recovery Today
Pura Vida Recovery is committed to helping individuals overcome their addiction and rebuild their lives. Part of this involves finding new, healthy activities to prevent boredom and trigger natural highs. This is how people learn to live happy, satisfying lives that do not involve drugs or alcohol. To learn more about our programs, contact our admissions department today.