How to release endorphins: 15 ideas to try


People call it a runner’s high for a reason. When you fly through the air, your endorphins also skyrocket.

Exercise is usually associated with these chemical messengers of well-being, but it is not the only way to promote the release of endorphins. If you are more of a chain surfer than a surfer-surfer, don’t worry. We’ve brought you all the best ways to make those happy feelings flow.

Whether you do Pilates, play tennis, or chase your kids around the yard, any kind of exercise could give your body an endorphin boost.

According to a 2011 research review, after about 30 minutes of exercise, your body can start releasing endorphins.

And that * fair * boost could be better when you’re with friends. In a small 2010 study, 12 participants seemed to release more endorphins when they rowed in a group than when they did a similar exercise solo.

Does it matter how hard you go? Probably. A small 2017 study of 22 healthy men found that more intense training helped release more endorphins than less intense training.

There isn’t a lot of research on exercise and endorphins yet, but there is plenty of evidence that exercise has other benefits for your physical and mental health. So, it’s worth a try!

Does everyone say that meditation can solve all of your problems? From adjusting your sleep schedule to fighting anxiety, it may seem like magic, but science suggests there are some legitimate benefits.

You may be able to add one more benefit to the list: encouraging your endorphins. Another way to trigger the release of endorphins is meditation, according to a 2011 review.

A small 2016 study of 31 adults also suggests that meditation training increases pain tolerance, which may be linked to endorphin response.

But there isn’t enough research yet to understand the connection for sure.

If you’ve never tried acupuncture, it might be surprising that getting pricked by many fine needles can be relaxing.

According to research from 2004, it could also give you a serious endorphins boost. Although this research is quite dated, a bunch of more recent studies support the use of acupuncture in management:

Turning into a pincushion for a little while might be worth it.

When you can’t roll around in a lavender field, get the next best thing: essential oil.

In a relatively small 2012 study, lavender aromatherapy was said to have relieved anxiety associated with IUD insertion.

Another small study from 2017 supports this finding – it found that inhaling “euphoric” essential oil aromas (like lavender) can help release endorphins.

Other euphoric oils include:

  • Rosemary
  • citrus scents (orange, grapefruit, lemon, bergamot, etc.)
  • ylang ylang
  • incense

Massages and relaxation go hand in hand like Netflix and chill. It turns out that loosening those knots in the back can release endorphins as well.

Whether you choose to jump in a massage chair, pay a pro, or have your boo do it, some older research (since 2005) suggests that massages can boost a bunch of hormones, including:

  • endorphins
  • oxytocin
  • dopamine
  • serotonin

Research suggests that sleeping with your sweetheart (or yourself) releases roughly the same array of feel-good hormones as a massage, including:

  • endorphins
  • oxytocin
  • dopamine
  • serotonin

Pro tip: Why not double those bennies? Try to start your sexy moment with a little massage on your own or as a couple.

The next time someone calls you for spending too much time watching funny cat videos, you can tell you’re just trying to release endorphins.

Some research suggests that laughing out loud causes those happy feelings to flow. It also appears to suppress the stress hormone cortisol and increase your levels of serotonin and dopamine.

According to a 2016 review, anything that makes laughter a fairly legitimate form of DIY therapy.

It’s not just fun things that get your endorphins flowing – a dramatic episode of “You” or “Goliath” could do the trick, too.

According to a 2016 study, the emotional arousal that occurs when people watch dramas increases pain threshold and social bond. This has led scientists to believe that your Netflix marathon might actually increase endorphins.

So, make way for the drama!

Selfless acts can be a way of serving others, but they can also have benefits for your own well-being.

According to a 2016 review on the science of kindness, benevolent acts release endorphins and oxytocin (the “binding hormone”). They can also create new neural connections in your noggin.

So whether you’re buying someone a coffee, volunteering with an organization you care about, or just smiling at a stranger, why not give it a try?

Need another reason to have fun with your BFFs on the dance floor? Research suggests that making or listening to music can strengthen social bonds and release endorphins.

Upbeat music can be especially helpful, according to a 2017 review of several studies.

In a 2016 study of a few hundred subjects, group singing appeared to strengthen feelings of social connection and lower pain thresholds. The researchers concluded that social musical performance can stimulate endorphins.

Additionally, a small 2019 study of 40 participants found that people with fibromyalgia reported less pain after listening to music. This improvement may be related to the endorphin response.

The impact of rhythm and sound on emotions could also be the reason why many people turn to music therapy to reduce stress and live the best of their lives.

If you want to boost your endorphins, channel your inner Sheryl Crow: it’s time to enjoy the sun.

Research suggests that ultraviolet (UV) radiation can increase blood levels of endorphins. Just be sure to coat yourself in SPF before your tan to protect your skin from sunburn and UV damage.

Pro tip: Living in a place so gray that you almost forget what the sun looks like? While * any * outdoor exposure, rain or shine, should help, you may also want to consider getting a solar light.

Lathering in the tub can soothe sore muscles, relieve stress, and, you guessed it, give you an endorphin boost.

There isn’t a lot of research on the link between bathing and endorphins, but it’s probably worth it. A bath can help you feel relaxed and restored. Self-care FTW.

It’s time to eat spaghetti like you’re Julia Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love”, because eating and indulging yourself is really. To do go together.

According to a small study from 2017, eating food (but not drinking drinks with the same number of calories) releases endorphins in the brain.

Some people believe that spicy foods in particular give your noggin an endorphin rush, and there is some limited animal research from 2012 to confirm this.

In case you need another excuse to grab that nice piece of dark chocolate, here’s a good one. According to a 2017 review, in addition to satisfying your sweet tooth and increasing dopamine levels, this dark chocolate may also increase your endorphins.

Experts believe that the polyphenols in dark chocolate trigger this feeling of happiness and have an anti-inflammatory effect.

When you need a little endorphin release, maybe it’s time to dance like no one is watching you.

While all types of dancing, from twerk to renegading, can release endorphins, research from 2015 suggests it’s even better if you find a partner. The study found that dancing in sync with others resulted in higher pain thresholds and feelings of social connection.

Endorphins are chemical wellness messengers essential for pain management and pleasure.

Activities like eating, exercising, laughing, listening to music, and sunbathing can stimulate endorphins. Showing kindness, getting a massage, or having sex can also help.


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