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The relationship between endorphins and happiness

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Do you feel less stressed after a good run?

How about more grounded during yoga? Or refreshed after a relaxing massage?

That’s because of endorphins.

Endorphins are neurotransmitters (chemicals that send messages throughout the body) released through aerobic exercise and other calming activities with the effect of relieving or reducing pain. They’re a type of peptide (amino acids stuck together) made in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.

In addition to three other neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin), it’s known as a happiness chemical.

What does this mean?

Simple – an increase in endorphins can mean an increase in happiness.

Think of endorphins as your body’s own production of natural morphine. Through activities such as exercise, proper eating and drinking, sexual intercourse, and self-care techniques, endorphins release and result in:

  • pain relief (both mentally and physically)
  • stress release
  • a decrease in anxiety
  • a sense of pleasure
  • increased self-esteem
  • an overall sense of happiness

To release endorphins, consider:

  • aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, biking, dancing, swimming, skating and aerobics classes
  • having sexual intercourse
  • meditating
  • yoga
  • diaphragmatic breathing (such as on long, slow walks or through breathing techniques)
  • getting a massage
  • having acupuncture
  • eating dark chocolate
  • laughing/watching comedic content

Sound doable?

Just keep in mind that balance is key. Too much exercise, extra servings of dark chocolate, and too much sitting on the couch watching funny movies can all have detrimental health effects. Instead of simply going for more, opt for staying balanced.

Are you ready to get (and stay) happy? Then focus on a lifestyle that boosts your endorphins.