By Cathy Smith
Natural Ways To a Happier Brain
Who doesn’t want that? My partner and I just returned from a lovely vacation in the Grand Tetons and the South Fork of the Snake River. I bathed my brain and body in a blissful blast of endorphins with a combination of nature, higher elevation, long hikes, delicious food, bouts of laughter, and making new friends.
What are endorphins? How do they work and can we get more daily? Brain science is fascinating! By no means will I attempt to explain the complexities of the billions of neural pathways. Endorphins are “feel good” chemicals produced by the pituitary gland and nervous system. They attach to the brain's opiate receptors, thus increasing pleasure and reducing pain. Ever heard a story of someone breaking a bone and not feeling the pain until hours later? That is our mighty gray matter coming to the rescue!
Have you experienced the euphoria of a “runner's high”? Or the chilled out buzz of a glass of wine and a belly laugh with a friend? I feel incredible after a heart-pumping hour at the gym or after playing a game of Frisbee in the park. Maybe for you, it’s the sense of community while bonding with a cycling group or a monthly book club. The positive energy created releases these feel-good chemicals that keep us wanting more. Might be one reason we hear that pint of ice cream calling us from the freezer for one more bite ...hmmm?
Here are a few endorphin “triggers” that came up again and again in my research. Give ‘em a go and see how you feel!
Laughing ~ Social bonding
Nature and sunshine
Beet root powder or capsules
Omega 3 fish and flax oils
Lavender and Vanilla essential oils
Meditation and conscious deep breathing
A customer last week shared how at age 55 she had begun to a kid again! I’m with her.