What are Endorphins?

We’ve all heard of them – but what exactly are endorphins?  They are neurotransmitters: chemicals in the brain that are passed between neurons.  They move signals from one part of the brain to another.  Endorphins can come multiple places in the body including the pituitary gland, spinal cord, and other parts of the brain.  They are responsible for producing feelings of euphoria!

Endorphins can block pain and create feelings of pleasure – they are powerful chemicals!  They act in much of the same way that opioids and narcotics act, but they are produced by the body naturally.  Some endorphins have even been found to be more powerful than morphine!

There are a number of ways to trigger the release of endorphins, including:

 

  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Meditation
  • Childbirth
  • Chili Peppers
  • Massage
  • UV Light
  • Exercise!

 

Have you ever experienced a “runner’s high?”  If so, then you experienced the euphoria of a release of endorphins!  The “runner’s high” doesn’t only apply to running – it can be experienced from any high-intensity exercise.  If you are sweating and panting, your body is probably producing endorphins!

These endorphins can elevate your mood for hours!  I know that if I exercise in the morning, I feel happier for the rest of the day (compared to the days when I tell myself “I don’t feel like working out today”…)  

So how to we take advantage of this powerful chemical in our body that is more powerful than a drug?  We simply practice the pleasurable activities from the list above!  Specifically, practicing meditation, massage (yes, please!), and exercise.  

If you haven’t meditated before, you can read about How to Start Meditating.  Meditation has a plethora of mental, physical, and spiritual benefits.  And practicing meditation for just 10 minutes a day can bring you these benefits – and boost your endorphin production!

Massage can be expensive – but for those on a budget, even self massage can give you lots of benefits.  After your next shower, you can treat yourself to an indulgent self-massage.  All you need is some lotion or oil.  In general, you’ll want to make long massage strokes along the length of your bones and small circles around the joints.  Once you start, you’ll quickly figure out what feels good and what does not.

Finally, exercise!  Once you start a regular, healthy exercise regime, you WILL see the benefits.  For fun fitness ideas, check out our post here.  And seriously, just do it!  Get sweaty, work those muscles, increase your heart rate – you will feel healthier and happier.

Now you know the amazing powers of endorphins – enjoy them!