The best way to beat anxiety is to boost your endorphins, and this is old news. What people struggle with is finding the best ways to enhance their endorphins’ function.

Life Advancer shares with you the effect of endorphins, and how to use these brilliant chemicals to relieve your anxiety. For those who haven’t heard the word “endorphins,” before, we tell you what these are, and how they work.

What Are Endorphins?

These are chemicals that the body releases to relieve stress and pain. Endorphins function in the same way as opioids, which surgeons prescribe for pain relief after surgery.

Scientists have studied the way opioids work in the body. They combine with receptors in the body to disrupt pain signals. The same scientists then realized that chemicals in the body operated in the same way as opioids to relieve pain.

Whereas opioids can cause an overdose and even death, endorphins cause a high that does not have risks.

What Are the Functions of Endorphins in the Brain and Body?

Endorphins, which are neurotransmitters, transmit the electric signals which allow our nervous systems to function. The human brain has at least 20 endorphins. You will find them in most parts of our nervous systems. Anxiety and pain cause the release of endorphins.

These chemicals react with opiate receptors in the brain to ease these feelings. They behave like opioids such as morphine and codeine, but with one difference – endorphins don’t lead to addiction because they are natural chemicals. Their secretion also leads to euphoria, appetite modulation, increased sex hormones, and enhanced immune response.

The more endorphins we have, the less stress we feel. They modulate the high that we feel after exercising. The number of endorphins varies from person to person. Two people may not feel a sense of euphoria at the same level.

How to Trigger the Endorphins’ Function to Relieve Anxiety and Pain

So, we know that we need endorphins to function so that we can have a sense of well-being. But how do we boost them?

1. Exercise

Everyone knows that fitness counts, in more ways than one. Any exercise increases the level of endorphins in the body. A 2011 study suggests that continuous exercise of about half an hour causes a release of endorphins. Researchers have also discovered that exercising at a moderate level is best. It increases the heart and respiration rates. Furthermore, we feel the effects of endorphins best in a group.

2. Try Chocolate and Chili Peppers

Advising you to eat chocolate may be somewhat contrary to exercising, but it does boost your endorphin levels. This study proves that cocoa flavanol releases endorphins into the brain. Also, it reduces inflammation, which may give you a bit of leeway to indulge in it regularly.

Furthermore, capsaicin in chili peppers releases these ‘happy’ chemicals as well. Why not try the dark chocolate-chili pepper combination? It’s heavenly and good for the mood.



3. Meditation

Researchers involved in a 2011 study that studied the factors leading to endorphin release found that meditation was one of them. Participants involved reported feeling calm. Apart from feelings of happiness and satisfaction, meditation can enhance physical wellness, sleep, and one’s ability to cope with illness.

Here’s what to do if you wish to give meditation a try. First, choose a serene, quiet spot to seat yourself. Let your thoughts drift by, no matter if they are positive or negative. Don’t judge them; acknowledge them. Let them go and do not latch onto them. Go through this routine for five minutes, then for more extended periods.

4. Stop and Smell the Oils

Another way to strengthen the functions of your endorphins is to stop and smell the roses – rose oils, that is. A 2012 study showed that essential oils went some way in helping women who underwent IUD insertion with anxiety. Scents from euphoric essential oils are especially potent.

Examples of aromas that can trigger euphoria:

  • Lavender
  • Ylang ylang
  • Citrus
  • Rosemary
  • Rose
  • Frankincense.

5. Have Some Wine

Don’t try this if you are not of legal age to consume alcohol. That said, studies confirm that wine can increase endorphins. A study shared in the Journal of Neuroscience tells us that alcohol boosts the function of endorphins when consumed in small amounts. Wine, either red or white, contains antioxidants. Red wine has revasterol, which lowers inflammation and prevents damage to the arteries.

Another study in Science Translational Medicine looked at the effects of endorphins on social drinkers and problem drinkers. Interestingly, it found that endorphins affect our desire to continue drinking after the initial feel-good rush. While wine gives us a high, endorphins keep it in check, unlike opiates. The lesson to learn is to drink in moderation.



6. Have a Laugh

Laughing at something silly eases a lousy mood and keeps stress at bay. Why? Because laughter releases endorphins, of course. Laughter triggers endorphin rushes so effectively that it has become a form of cognitive therapy known as laughter yoga.

That aside, laughing with family or close friends also releases endorphins. A 2017 study found that viewing a comedy raises endorphin levels.

7. Watch a Drama

If silliness and letting loose isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll be relieved to know that comedy isn’t the only entertainment genre that can raise endorphins. There is evidence that watching dramas causes an increase in endorphins.

While this may seem strange, watching dramas results in sadness. Your brain may release endorphins to numb it. So replay a tearjerker if you need to get your endorphins flowing.

8. Practice Kindness

Despite what you may think, paying it forward doesn’t only benefit others. You will gain as well. As you help others to lighten their burdens, you’ll feel better about yourself. That’s how kindness triggers the endorphins’ function. While the high isn’t forever, it does keep you wanting to do beautiful things for others and yourself.

In all, there’s no need to ease your pain with prescriptions. Why not do it naturally? Give your endorphins’ function a boost.

Michelle Liew, B.A.

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