Your body’s natural highs help you feel good – healthy, fulfilled and happy
What are these natural highs? We’re all familiar with nutrition and exercise (walking, dancing, swimming, yoga, sex etc.) and how influential they are for our health and wellbeing.
Your brain is continually keeping your body in working order and does so with an incredible combination of body chemistry, checks and balances.
Enter endorphins: your own private narcotic. Endorphins are neurotransmitters, chemicals that pass along signals from one neuron to the next. Neurotransmitters play a key role in the function of the central nervous system and can either prompt or suppress the further signaling of nearby neurons…
There are many other ways you can harness your body’s natural highs. Here are 8 tips for you to feel good:
Can you remember when you had a really good laugh? It felt great didn’t it!
When you laugh your body produces endorphins. These feelgood hormones are painkillers. They have a similar effect to morphine!
Not only are stress hormones reduced but laughter also increases antibodies which fight off infections.
A good laugh also gives your body a work-out – your ribs, inner organs and muscles tense and flex in ways you don’t usually use. It also relaxes the body and is a great stress-buster.
Whether you laugh alone or with others, the effects are tremendous on your mental wellbeing and your physical body. See if you can do frequent daily laughter workouts!
When you smile, numerous facial muscles contract and relax. The brain receives messages to feel less tense and more upbeat. It encourages you to feel more open-hearted and compassionate.
The same messages even reach your brain when your heart isn’t really in your smile. It could be a fake smile yet your brain interprets it in the same way. Try this smiling exercise here.
And don’t forget that when you smile it not only helps you feel good about yourself, it cheers others up too. Never underestimate the power of a smile!
3 Meditation: The Inner Smile
The Inner Smile exercise works on the principle that your mind’s attitude directly affects your body’s physiology. ‘Where the mind goes the body follows’. Brief Inner Smile pointers:
Think of something that you love which makes you happy – a person, place or memory.
This is like switching on a feelgood switch inside of you.
Let yourself notice what it really feels like to experience this warm sense of wellbeing and happiness.
You can even add a smile to your face as you experience this inner smile feeling.
Let this inside feeling spread throughout your body.
Feel this sense of warmth, compassion, kindness and love.
The inner smile is like living in harmony with yourself, giving you the chance to ‘switch’ how you feel. As you focus on feeling good, your body follows suit.
Sit with this inner smile for as long as you wish – definitely an uplifting and beneficial meditation you may like to try.
4 Mindful Breathing
Notice your breath right now. It’s probable that you are breathing in a shallow way.
Try a few deep abdominal breaths now. Breathe right down into your stomach and let it relax outwards.
Then on the out-breath let your stomach fall back.
These deep breaths elicit the brains’ PNS (parasympathetic nervous system). This results in a feeling of relaxation as natural endorphins flow around the body. (Serotonin, Oxytocin, Dopamine).
Hug a loved one – it can be a human or a pet! Not just a quick hug, but a nice long one – and the body elicits the endorphin called oxytocin.
This feelgood hormone is the same one that new mothers have extra quotas of after giving birth. It encourages the human bond between mum and baby. You can’t beat a lovely long hug to lift your spirits!
6 Be Kind!
You might be amazed what impact a small act of kindness can have! When you are kind to someone else, you also feel the benefits – you literally feel great!
Studies show that thinking about, observing or practising a kind act stimulates the vagus nerve, which literally warms up the heart and may be closely connected to the brain’s receptor networks for oxytocin, the soothing hormone involved in maternal bonding. Kindness also triggers the reward system in our brain’s emotion regulation centre releasing dopamine, the hormone that’s associated with positive motions and the sensation of a natural high
Mary Ann Christie Burnside
We are hurting ourselves by not prioritizing our deep human connection to the natural world. We’ve lost sight of how natural spaces — even citified versions of them — can help us feel psychologically restored. Nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization.
You’ve no doubt noticed this for yourself. A slither of blue sky, a swathe of wild flowers in a hedgerow, a walk in woodlands, the sound of birdsong, the crashing ocean. Nature provides natural highs.
When we step out into nature we feel a connection with something greater. It feels like a tonic and a place of belonging. Even if you are alone in the world, nature offers its beauty and majesty. A tiny moment in nature or simply noticing it, is all it takes to feel uplifted!
How brilliant we have so many things to draw on to help us feel good! Science tells us that our brains produce dopamine when we listen to music. So turn the music up loud!
As a Mindfulness and Meditation Coach, I love helping people to live more empowered lives. The best bit of it is that you are in charge. Your mind and body can do all of this. Bring it on!
You can read more about the fascinating subject of endorphins here.
1 More here: Why laughter is good for you physically, emotionally, socially
and here: 6 Reasons why laughter is the best medicine.
5 Oxytocin: Facts about the ‘cuddle hormone‘.
6 More about kindness and its effects here.
7 Read more about the power of nature: How Just 15 minutes in nature makes you happier
8 Music and emotions: read about the science.
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Coach