If you feel depressed, lonely or sad for little or no reason, which is common for millions of senior citizens, you may want to talk to your personal physician or therapist and follow their recommendations. In addition, and with their approval, you may also want to try some of the activities below to naturally boost your happiness hormones.
Whenever you cuddle with someone you care about, including your cat or dog, your brain releases oxytocin, which is known as the love hormone. It lowers your stress and helps you feel close to your loved ones. If cuddling with your spouse or lover leads to sexual intimacy, the release of happiness hormones may be even greater.
Laugh and Smile Often
Whether it is a corny joke or a funny movie which causes you to laugh out loud, the act will cause you to release endorphins. Not only do endorphins lift your spirits, but they also protect you from illnesses and ease pain. Don't feel like laughing? Even smiling can produce a positive effect on your mood. There has even been some research indicating that smiling can help you fall asleep more easily. So, whether you feel like it or not, smile!
Whether you like to run, walk, go for a swim or ride your bike, exercise is another way to stimulate your body to release those wonderful endorphins. This also explains what it means for someone to get a runner's high. In addition, there is some evidence that exercising with others in a group or class can boost your endorphins even more. Finally, as you will see below, getting some of that exercise outside will stimulate your production of happiness hormones even more.
Spend a Little Time in the Sun
Just 15 or 20 minutes of sunshine will allow your skin to absorb enough UV rays to promote your production of both Vitamin D and serotonin. A lack of serotonin can cause increased feelings of loneliness and depression, so anything you can do to increase your level of this important hormone can help you feel happier and less lonely. Do not leave your skin exposed longer than 20 minutes, however, because too much sun can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
Get a Massage
During a nice, relaxing massage, your body will increase its production of both serotonin and dopamine. It will also decrease the production of the unhealthy stress hormone cortisol. As a result, a massage will temporarily reduce your depression, lower your stress, decrease your pain and help you sleep. What could be nicer?
If you cannot afford a massage at an expensive spa, see if there are any massage schools in your community. My husband and I sometimes go to a massage school about a 30 minute drive from our home for 50-minute massages which only cost $25. Another option is to take turns with your spouse giving and receiving massages.
Enjoy a Little Dark Chocolate
Eating a little dark chocolate is a delicious way to increase your endorphin levels. However, you do not want to overdo it. Adding weight might lower your self-esteem, increase your stress and undo the benefits.
Sniff Vanilla or Lavender
Lavender is known to relax you and help you sleep. Vanilla may be an aphrodisiac to some men, promoting feelings of love and connection. Either one can bring you pleasure, so put a few drops of lavender essential oil or vanilla on your pillow case to boost your endorphins as you sleep.
Try Ginseng - Cautiously
Ginseng is believed to have several positive effects on people, including controlling your blood sugar, aiding in weight loss, inhibiting the release of harmful stress hormones and supporting the organs which produce endorphins. This common herb may be helpful in boosting your mood, but you might want to discuss it first with a doctor, since it could conflict with medications you are taking.
Try Positive Thinking
At first, you may feel it is hopeless to change the way you think. However, by engaging in practices such as meditation, yoga, repeating affirmations or making a gratitude list, you may gradually learn to push aside negative thoughts and develop a more positive outlook. The more you practice these skills, the more you may naturally boost your endorphins.
With all these different options for improving your mood and decreasing your feelings of loneliness and depression, there is no reason to just give in to your sadness. Talk to your doctor or therapist, deal with any medical issues you may have, join a support group and try the suggestions above. You absolutely CAN turn your life around.
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