Hack Your Happy Hormones - Part 2

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted May 5, 2022

Dear Longevity Insider,

Get those happy hormones going! Here's a quick how-to guide for hacking your happy hormones and maximizing your quality of life.

Happy Hormone #1: Endorphins. Endorphins are released in response to pain or stress and act as a natural painkiller. Endorphins work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, which reduces the perception of pain. Endorphins are the brain's natural painkiller. You can increase your levels of endorphins by:

  • Exercise is a great way to release endorphins. A moderate amount of exercise is the key to unlocking the endorphin release. You don't have to go overboard - a simple walk or bike ride will do the trick.

  • Eat dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains high levels of cocoa, which has been shown to increase endorphin levels significantly. So next time you're craving something sweet, reach for a piece of dark chocolate instead!

  • Watching comedy: Laughter is known to be a great way to release endorphins. So next time you're feeling stressed, try watching a funny movie or TV show.

Happy Hormone #2: Oxytocin. Oxytocin is sometimes called the "cuddle hormone" because it's released when we hug or kiss someone we love. Oxytocin is also released during childbirth and breastfeeding, and it plays a role in bonding between mother and child. Oxytocin has been linked to feelings of trust, relaxation, and happiness. Some tips to stimulate oxytocin include:

  • Pet your household pet: Oxytocin levels have been shown to increase significantly in both humans and animals when they pet or are close to a household pet. So next time you're feeling stressed, take a break to cuddle with your cat or dog.

  • Hug someone you love: As we already mentioned, oxytocin is released when we hug or kiss someone we love. So, if you need a boost of oxytocin, give your spouse or significant other a big hug!

  • Watch romantic comedy movies: Studies have shown that watching love stories increases our levels of oxytocin. So, the next time you're feeling stressed out, try snuggling up with a good romantic comedy.

Happy Hormone #3: Dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine levels increase when we do something that makes us feel good, like eating our favorite food or spending time with friends. Dopamine also plays a role in motivation and goal-setting. To stimulate dopamine:

  • Get a good night’s rest: A good night's sleep is important for overall health, but it's also essential for keeping dopamine levels balanced. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can lead to dopamine imbalance. Make sure you're getting enough rest!

  • Eat healthy: Eating a healthy diet is important for maintaining balance in all of the body's systems, and that includes the dopamine system. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will help keep dopamine levels in check.

  • Exercise: Exercise is a great way to increase dopamine levels. A moderate amount of exercise is the key to unlocking the dopamine release. 

  • Listen to upbeat music: Music is known to stimulate dopamine release, so blasting your favorite upbeat tunes may help you feel happier and more motivated.

  • Complete a task: The sense of accomplishment you feel when you complete a task is dopamine-inducing. If you're feeling stuck, try setting a simple goal and then rewarding yourself with something you enjoy when you reach it!

Happy Hormone #4: Serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and social behavior. People with lower levels of serotonin are more likely to be irritable or depressed. Studies have also shown that increasing levels of serotonin can help improve symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and depression. To stimulate serotonin:

  • Get sun: Sunlight is one of the most effective ways to increase serotonin levels. When you expose your skin to sunlight, your body produces vitamin D, which helps the body absorb serotonin.

  • Exercise: Exercise is a great way to release serotonin. A moderate amount of exercise is the key to unlocking the serotonin release.

  • Practice meditation: Meditation has been shown to increase serotonin production, and it can also help reduce stress levels. Try meditating for 10 minutes each day, or even just practicing mindful breathing when you're feeling stressed out.

  • Go for a walk: Walking outdoors is a great way to increase your serotonin levels. Walking in nature has been shown to be even more effective at boosting serotonin than walking around busy city blocks. So go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air!

Stress can have a negative impact on our health, but luckily there are things we can do to help balance our stress hormones. Try incorporating some of the tips above into your daily routine to help hack your happy hormones. 

To your longevity,

anil bajnath signature

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ

P.S. Here's a great way to support hormone balance in your body.

The ONE “Healthy” Food
You Should Never Eat