8 Everyday Ways to Boost Endorphins Naturally—and Why It's So Good for You

This happiness chemical is naturally produced in the body, and these activities can help release it.

Endorphins make us feel good. These chemicals naturally produced by the nervous system help us manage pain and stress while quite literally creating positive feelings. But did you know that there are little things you can do in your daily life to naturally boost, or release, endorphins on your own?

These chemicals, which have sedating and calming effects, are interconnected with the reward circuit (or everyday acts that feel rewarding to us). Feeding, drinking, sex, and even exercise all play a huge role in the development of endorphins.

Yet when it comes to endorphins, it's not just their feel-good properties that matter; endorphins help our bodies respond in an appropriate way when faced with pain and other physical stressors. This helps us manage and lower anxiety, depression, and other mood concerns. In short: Endorphins are great. And the best part is, there are many small steps you can take every day to boost our own endorphins, many of which you likely already do and enjoy, like going for a good jog or quite simply eating a delicious square of dark chocolate. Here are eight healthy things you can do to boost endorphins, and why they're important, according to science and experts.

01 of 08

Working Out

If you've ever heard the term "runner's high," it's not just a sense of accomplishment one gets from running. The famed "runner's high" occurs from a run (and other types of exercise) where you might experience a sudden burst of endorphins that are released during said physical activity.

This short-lasting, euphoric state happens after intense physical exercise that causes your body to go through a number of changes. As your breathing becomes heavier, your pulse quickens and causes your heart to pump harder, therefore moving oxygenated blood to your muscles and brain.

But don't only look to running for that major endorphin boost: tennis, swimming, and HIIT exercises are also great choices. "It's no secret that exercise, especially resistance training, promotes the release of endorphins," explains certified strength and conditioning specialist Seth Forman. "These hormones that the body releases during exercise can help reduce emotional stress, act as a natural anti-inflammatory, relieve pain, and simply result in feeling good."

RELATED: Research Says a Healthy Combo of Meditation and Exercise Can Naturally Reduce Depression

02 of 08

Laughing

Many of us have heard the age-old saying that "laughter is the best medicine." That's because a good laugh can actually trigger the release of endorphins. Since laughter helps us breathe in more oxygen-rich air, we're instantly activating our heart, lungs, and muscles, therefore stimulating the production of feel-good endorphins. So there you have it: Find ways to laugh heartily every day.

03 of 08

Having Sex

Like physical activity and exercise, sex has the same power to naturally boost endorphins. It's part of that "reward circuit" that helps us feel good while also creating pain-relieving properties. Sex and physical intimacy are often viewed as natural painkillers that can boost mood, help you relax and create feelings of emotional intimacy and contentment. This is particularly true during orgasms, when significant amounts of endorphins are released.

04 of 08

Getting Acupuncture

Yes, the ancient Chinese medicine technique of acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into the body, and it can actually stimulate the release of endorphins. For centuries, the traditional practice has been used to alleviate a variety of issues, from chronic pain to headaches, to colds and allergies.

Studies show that acupuncture can accelerate the release of endorphins, therefore helping us fight off pain, reduce stress, and create more of those good feelings we crave. "Acupuncture increases levels of endorphins and decreases norepinephrine, a brain chemical associated with pain sensation," says Leann Poston, MD, who practices pediatric medicine and mentors students.

05 of 08

Listening to Music

Did you know music can literally make you happy? If you've ever put on your favorite song and instantly felt good, there's a science behind the phenomenon. Research supports music having the power to increase the flow of endorphins, therefore stimulating feelings of pleasure and reward (pegging back to that good old reward system we've been talking about so much). But it's not just music itself that can boost endorphins: Creative arts connected to music like singing, dancing, and drumming can also trigger endorphins. All the more reason to dance and sing to your favorite playlist!

06 of 08

Smelling Lavender

Essential oil aromas are used for a variety of needs. From stress relief to promoting good sleep, essential oils are seemingly universal in their benefits. But one of the surprising perks of smelling essential oil aromas, particularly lavender scents, is its ability to boost endorphins.

Emerging research points to lavender smells as a natural tool for promoting the release of endorphins. By calming the mind and body, lavender stimulates those feel-good properties that help us relax, fall asleep, and cope with stress, among other things.

07 of 08

Getting a Massage

We often turn to massages to relax. But not only can this pampering treatment help us unwind and destress, it can also prompt the release of endorphins.

"Massage treatment may help alleviate stress and improve symptoms of physical health issues including chronic pain and tiredness," explains Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, psychologist and keynote speaker. "These advantages are linked to the release of various hormones, including endorphins."

08 of 08

Eating Dark Chocolate

There's a reason we love dark chocolate so much—and it's not just for the taste. Dark chocolate contains special compounds that actually cause the brain to release endorphins and chemicals to make us feel good. This sweet (but not too sweet) treat stimulates endorphin production, therefore creating feelings of pleasure. So next time you're craving a piece of dark chocolate, remember that it can actually make you happy, according to science.

RELATED: 5 Legitimate Health Benefits You'll Reap From Eating Chocolate

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