Dr. David Samadi’s tips for boosting mood during the coronavirus pandemic

Finding natural ways to get those “feel good” feelings flowing once again

By Dr. David Samadi

Life is best when we feel good about ourselves and others. Granted, it’s unrealistic to feel “good” all the time. That’s why having the tools necessary harnessing that feeling of joy and enlightenment when we need it – what a way to live. And there’s never been a better time than now during the coronavirus pandemic unleashing those feel good feelings more than ever.

Not sure how to start? Here’s a secret – our bodies have a naturally wonderful way of releasing “feel good” chemicals, better known as endorphins, helping us feel relaxed and uplifted.  Endorphins are brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system.  They are found in the pituitary gland and are also distributed throughout the nervous system.

These special chemicals not only reduce feelings of pain but their secretion leads to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones and enhancement of our immune functioning.  Who wouldn’t want to experience this natural “high?”

If you are feeling like your body has forgotten to release any endorphins lately, there are certain things you can do to get the process flowing once again.  Here are some examples of natural ways to boost endorphins getting that “feel good” feeling once again:

1.  Take a group exercise class – once given the all clear

Of course, during our current shelter-in-place status, getting together in a group is not recommended. But one day – hopefully soon – that’ll happen again. Until then, exercise is perfect releasing endorphins. For instance, if you’re a runner, the so-called “runner’s high” that athletes achieve with prolonged exercise has been shown to produce endorphins in response to prolonged, continuous exercise.

However, do know that group exercise does have some distinct advantages.  In 2009, researchers found that college rowing crews who rowed in synchronization had an increased rush of endorphins compared to those who rowed by themselves.  Take up a dancing or water aerobics class or join a walking club, and feel those endorphins flowing right away. 

2.  Laugh every day

What better way to release endorphins but to laugh the day away.  Children are already good at this – they laugh about 300 times daily.  Adults could learn a lesson from this as we only laugh on average about 5 times a day.  Laughter improves our perspective. A good belly laugh makes us feel more energetic making life issues not quite as problematic. 

Laughter is great medicine too – it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, boosts immune functioning by raising levels of infection-fighting cells, and gives us a sense of well-being.

3.  Eat some chocolate

Chocolate lovers, here is your excuse to indulge – just a little.  Ingesting chocolate appears to release endorphins due to the comforting feeling many people associate with this food and the craving for chocolate in times of stress. A couple of bites can begin the release of endorphins resulting in pain-relieving and pleasure-promoting hormones. 

The trick is to indulge in heart healthy dark chocolate which is any with a cacao content of at least 70% or higher.  Thanks to its high content of polyphenols and antioxidants, dark chocolate reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure, reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol while boosting “good” HDL cholesterol protecting your arteries. 

A little chocolate each day – one square – can be good.  But be careful not to overindulge as it could lead to weight gain.

4.  Eat spicy foods

Here is another type of food related to endorphin release.  In this case, chili peppers – the spicier the better – can lead to enhanced secretion of the feel-good hormones. 

Thanks to a special chemical compound found in spicy foods called capsaicin, can create a painful burning sensation when heavily spiced foods are eaten hot.  Even though it can cause pain, the pain is offset by the body’s reason which is to release endorphins which lead to a feeling of well-being. 

5.  Listen to music

Put on your favorite tunes to get the endorphin juice going.  Music is well-known for producing a relaxed state of mind along with the joy it naturally brings as it unleashes our feel-good brain chemicals. 

6.  Have sex

Nature’s gift to us for joyful de-stressing – take advantage of it as often as you can.  Have a stressful situation you’re dealing with?  Have sex – research has found that people who had intercourse at least once over two weeks were better able to manage stressful situations.  During sex, endorphins and the hormone oxytocin are released activating the pleasure centers in the brain that create feelings of intimacy and relaxation.  Even though you don’t have to have an orgasm for the effects, but if you do, you’ll get an extra big surge of soothing hormones for the best feel-good feeling ever. 

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He is a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City. He is regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., trained in oncology, open, laparoscopic, and robotic surgery. He has a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.