It’s 4/20. We get it. But instead of wasting your life away, why don’t you do something productive, and get high in a positive, healthy, natural way? Skip the weed and check out an alternative below that will release the same type of endorphins (creating a ‘high’):
1. Cardio: Any intense aerobic activity performed for 20 minutes or more will trigger your brain to release endorphins, notes the Family Education website. Running elicits a flood of endorphins in the brain, according to research conducted at the University of Bonn, Germany. Before and after a long-distance run, 10 runners took a positron emission tomography scan, which measures activity in various regions of the brain. Chemicals that reveal endorphins in the brain were used in the study, and runners took a standard psychological test to evaluate their moods before and after the run. Results showed the participants’ level of euphoria rose significantly after running, because endorphins were produced and became attached to areas of the brain involved with mood, explained lead researcher Dr. Henning Boecker.
2. Laugh: Laughter is an enjoyable experience that can give you a natural high because it releases endorphins. Anticipating a good laugh also brings forth your endorphins, according to the results of a 2006 study published in “The FASEB Journal.” Higher endorphin levels help you ward off stress and maintain a positive mood, as indicated by the study.
3. Play/listen to music: Music affects your brain’s limbic region, stimulating emotional response and memories. Listening to music can reduce your muscle tension and bring forth relaxation, according to music therapy coordinator Karen Wacks at the Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts. Music therapy was used in ancient Egypt, Africa, China and Greece. Patients of music therapy in the U.S. now include individuals recovering from drug and alcohol addictions, the elderly and disabled, and those who are terminally ill.
4. Make love: Sexual activity brings about natural highs in three ways: (1) through vigorous physical activity, (2) emotional excitement, and (3) orgasm. Each of these causes the release of different amounts of endorphins.
Have you ever noticed how the euphoria lasts well beyond an orgasm? That’s because the endorphins are still flowing.
5. Eat Chocolate: There could be some truth in the belief that those who crave chocolate are looking for a sex substitute. This is because dark chocolate contains a chemical which our bodies converts into phenylethylamine (PEA) – the same chemical that is secreted when we fall in love. However, dietitian Catherine Collins of St Georges Hospital, London, says that chocolate contains such small amounts of PEA it is likely to have little effect.
This is because the feel-good factor we get from chocolate is likely to be our own chemicals called serotonin which are boosted when we look forward to pleasurable experiences such as eating tasty treats such as chocolate.
6. Meditate: By focusing your mind on pleasurable thoughts, you can tap into the feel-good factor within. Meditation promotes self-healing through focused awareness and mental imagery that invokes your endorphins, says Rikys. Its effect is cumulative, building a reservoir of well-being rather than storing unnecessary stress. Rikys leads weekly “endorphin meditation” groups in London.