Hormones are chemicals produced by different glands across your body. They travel through the bloodstream, acting as messengers and playing a part in many bodily processes.
One of these important functions? Helping regulate your mood.
Certain hormones are known to help promote positive feelings, including happiness and pleasure.
These “happy hormones” include:
- Dopamine. Also known as the “feel-good” hormone, dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that’s an important part of your brain’s reward system. Dopamine is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more.
- Serotonin. This hormone (and neurotransmitter) helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.
- Oxytocin. Often called the “love hormone,” oxytocin is essential for childbirth, breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding. This hormone can also help promote trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships, and oxytocin levels generally increase with physical affection like kissing, cuddling, and sex.
- Endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever, which your body produces in response to stress or discomfort. Endorphin levels also tend to increase when you engage in reward-producing activities, such as eating, working out, or having sex.
Here’s a look at how to make the most of these natural mood-boosters.
Looking to boost your endorphins and serotonin levels? Spending time outdoors, in sunlight, is a great way to do this.
According to 2008 researchTrusted Source, exposure to sunlight can increase the production of both serotonin and endorphins.
Start with at least 10 to 15 minutes outside each day. If you’re tired of the same old sights, try exploring a new neighborhood or park. (Just don’t forget the sunscreen!)
Exercise has multiple physical health benefits. It can also have a positive impact on emotional well-being.
If you’ve heard of a “runner’s high,” you might already know about the link between exercise and endorphin release.
But exercise doesn’t just work on endorphins. Regular physical activity can also increase your dopamine and serotonin levels, making it a great option to boost your happy hormones.
Maximize your workout
To see even more benefits from exercise:
- Include a few friends. A small 2009 studyTrusted Source looking at 12 men found evidence to suggest group exercise offers more benefits than solo exercise.
- Get some sun. Move your workout outdoors to maximize your serotonin boost.
- Time it. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at a time. Any amount of physical activity has health benefits, but research associates endorphin release with continued exercise rather than short bursts of activity.
Who hasn’t heard the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine”?
Of course, laughter won’t treat ongoing health issues. But it can help relieve feelings of anxiety or stress, and improve a low mood by boosting dopamine and endorphin levels.
According to a small 2017 studyTrusted Source looking at 12 young men, social laughter triggered endorphin release. Research from 2011Trusted Source supports this finding.
So, share that funny video, dust off your joke book, or watch a comedy special with a friend or partner.
An added bonus? Bonding over something hilarious with a loved one might even trigger oxytocin release.