how endorphins can get you through lockdown.
Ah endorphins, the chemical that makes you feel like Mo Farah after going for a ten-minute run.
Endorphins are tiny neurochemicals released by your body into your brain, and they could be just what you need to get through the final stretch of lockdown. They act on the opiate receptors in your brain, meaning they boost pleasure and reduce pain, resulting in a feeling of well-being.
Getting a regular boost of endorphins can have a major impact on your life, as it reduces stress and anxiety, boosts your self-esteem, helps you lose weight and can also take the edge off depression.
‘But how do I best do this?’ I hear you ask. Well, there are actually a few ways, and some of them may surprise you.
The most obvious and effective way is to exercise. When you engage in high-intensity exercise, your body and brain produce endorphins, which is often referred to as a ‘runners high’.
The best chance you have of improving your mood via exercise is through a mix of activities you enjoy and will stick to doing consistently.
Cardiovascular and aerobic exercises are great for creating the intensity required for the production of endorphins. Cycling, running and even dancing are great options for doing this, and are completely doable in the current climate. To maximise enjoyment, you could exercise with a friend, provided it’s in line with the current restrictions.
Tai Chi – a traditional Chinese exercise – is also proven to give you that much-needed boost. Tai Chi is super easy to learn as the moves are repetitive and it doesn’t require strength or endurance; instead, it focuses on the movement and breathing.
It is a common misconception that the more exercise you do, the better your mood will be. The reality is that it’s actually possible to overdo it. Exercise produces cortisol and producing too much of this can have negative effects on your body and mood. It’s thought that 30 minutes of daily exercise is good for improving your overall mood, especially for people who suffer from mild to moderate depression.
listen to music.
If exercising is the route you decide to go down in your quest for a better lockdown mood, then playing some tunes will go hand-in-hand with your workout. Various reports suggest that listening to – and creating, if that’s your thing – music produces endorphins.
eat dark chocolate.
A tastier way of improving your mood is by eating dark chocolate, as it is proven to stimulate the production of endorphins, as well as serotonin, a natural antidepressant that can elevate your mood.
Not only is dark chocolate delicious, but it has less sugar and is less filling, meaning it’s a great snack for weight loss. It is also believed that it could help improve your cognitive functions and protect your skin.
Despite its health benefits, it’s still important to enjoy it in moderation, as one ounce of dark chocolate contains 12 grams of fat.
eat spicy food.
If you think your tastebuds can handle it, then eating spicy food can be a great way of beating the lockdown blues. When capsaicin – the chemical that makes spicy foods hot – hits your tongue, your body registers it as pain, therefore releasing endorphins as a reaction to this.
Any excuse to order in a takeaway curry, right?
watch a dramatic film.
Indulging in a dramatic or tragic film (or TV show, endorphins aren’t fussy) is also a proven way of increasing production. As well as improving your mood, the natural painkiller also helps you to bond with the people around you, a report from Oxford University concludes.