A chocolate craving is something that can be induced by stress and is probably governed by body chemistry. Research has shown that after two weeks of daily consumption of dark chocolate, some individuals showed a positive impact on stress-associated metabolism that restored high stress metabolic features (energy, microbial activity and hormonal metabolism) similar to the levels found in less stressed subjects. I did a little further investigation and found that some researchers believe that chocolate may release endorphins, the chemicals that make us feel good. Also, chocolate is a natural analgesic or pain killer. The trick is to only give in a little bit. What is a little bit? A couple of Hershey Kisses will do it! It’s a surprisingly small amount.
In addition to chocolate cravings, here are three fun ways to boost your endorphin levels:
- Exercise - Not a runner? Don’t get discouraged—any kind of moderate to intense exercise, like heavy weight lifting or interval aerobics, can create the same rush. But if you push your body to the point of serious pain, it can have the opposite effect.
- Love and Affection - When you’re with someone you love and trust, a release of endorphins can make you feel secure, compassionate, and connected. It’s what strengthens long-term relationships. You can also just hug a friend…you never know if they need one!
- Laughter - Over the years, researchers have conducted studies to explore the impact of laughter on health. After evaluating participants before and after a humorous event (i.e., a comedy video), studies have revealed that episodes of laughter helped to reduce pain, decrease stress-related hormones and boost the immune system in participants.
The next time you’re in a funk, try watching something funny, taking a long walk, or eating a little chocolate. Science is still working to prove that these things have a physical effect on our moods, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do informal studies of our own. Now that’s my kind of research.