Endorphins are chemicals produced in the brain. They are a group of chemicals known as neurotransmitters, whose job it is to transmit electrical signals around our nervous system.
Dopamine is a hormone which is linked to the release of this chemical and is also the hormone which is responsible for giving you those feelings of a natural high when you achieve something.
Unfortunately stress can hinder the production of dopamine and so in turn reduces the release of endorphins and so making you more vulnerable to depression as well as your sensitivity to pain.
The release of this chemical in the brain can be caused by several things but stress and pain are the two most common factors. This is because they react with receptors in the brain to reduce or perception of pain. It has also been shown that they control cravings for addictive substances and food and control feelings of stress and anxiety.
High levels of this chemical in your brain decrease the negative effects of stress, it can also lead to feelings of euphoria and boost the immune system.
Boosting your levels of this chemical could be the best way to relieve stress in your life, after all it is natural and has no bad side effects. The levels of these chemicals vary from person to person but we can all do things to help increase their production.
Some foods help to boost the release of these chemicals and could explain why when we are stressed we tend to crave these foods. Two of the main ones are:
Many athletes experience natural highs after competing or after a strenuous exercise routine. This is because intense activity stimulates the production and release of this chemical and is probably because the body starts to feel some pain and so releases the chemical to reduce the sensitivity to the pain. But along with this is you feel a wonderful sense of happiness and release from anxiety.
Even if you are not that fit and do not enjoy going to the gym, any form of strenuous activity will produce the same result. So when you clean the house give it some welly and get stuck in with digging the garden over. Even pick up your pace when walking will help to increase the chemical release.
Research has shown that even deep massage or therapies such as acupuncture can also help increase the chemical levels.
Again this is probably linked to the slight pain you may feel during the treatment, stimulating the release of the chemical. Leaving you will a wonderful feeling of euphoria and relaxation after your therapy.*
Laughing is not only the reaction to something which makes you feel happy it can also actually make you feel happy. Having a good laugh releases natural feel good chemicals into your system and keeps you feeling happy and stress free long after the joke is over.
During meditation the rhythm of your brainwaves change and these changes also release endorphins. This is why some people get a real kick from meditation; they say that it leaves them with a lingering sense of well being and calmness long after the session. It can almost become an addiction.