Humans are curious creatures; we’re always on the search for new experiences, a more exciting way to live and, let’s be honest, as much pleasure as we can get. This can prompt us to seek substances like alcohol or drugs which give us instant gratification, but truth is that we don’t need to take those risks to achieve a high.
The highs we get from alcohol, drugs, caffeine or high-sugar foods are fleeting and are often followed by the equivalent negative crash soon afterward, and that’s on top of the damage we cause to our bodies through repeated substance misuse.
For example, cocaine is a drug used to achieve a temporary state of euphoria but is often followed by depression, apathy and numbness. In addition, long-term cocaine use can also cause severe problems in terms of physical health.
According to The Recovery Village website (www.therecoveryvillage.com), long-term cocaine use can “ruin vital systems within the body” leading to memory loss, blood vessel damage, body temperature changes and gastrointestinal issues.
The buzz we are so often searching for can be found in the everyday. Anyone can find a natural high (and probably in more than one place) if they just know where to look. Here are some of the simplest and most effective ways to find yours.
These natural highs are not only all around us but are also longer lasting, more intense, cheaper and safer than taking any illegal substances.
Studies have shown that physical exercise releases endorphins and can be an effective way to treat depression. This has a chemical effect on our brains reducing our perception of pain and stress. This is what opiate drugs do, but this natural alternative will also leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.
Take a risk and try something that scares you. It doesn’t have to be a bungee jump or a skydive but completing a challenge can give you a serious surge in adrenaline to beat any artificial high.
Love and Kindness
It may sound a little cheesy but showing generosity and kindness to others can pay us back many times over in terms of feelings of joy, pride and an increase in self-esteem. The memory of the good deed will be with you for many years to come.
Similarly, take the time to thank and appreciate what other people do for you. Taking time to acknowledge someone’s kindness not only creates an opportunity for human connection but also increases the likelihood you’ll remember the moment in later life.
Sex and Physical Affection
A sexual orgasm releases an intense search of endorphins and, depending on your partner, a deep and powerful human connection with another person which can’t be beaten. The loving touch of another person – whether it’s a hug, a kiss or simply holding hands – can feel like electricity.
If you’re not in a relationship you might want to consider getting a massage therapy session as this has also been shown to boost endorphins.
There’s a lot to be said for the occasional indulgence when it comes to lifting our mood. Chocolate, for example, will release endorphins and carbohydrates move tryptophan across the brain which is an amino acid in makes up serotonin (the mood regulator).
Loading up on carbs and chocolate is obviously not a good idea on a regular basis, but luckily there are several fruits which also help to lift moods and combat depression, such as papaya, bananas, strawberries, mangos, pineapple, grapefruit, guava, apricots, peaches, apples and dates.
Research has highlighted a connection between diet and depression. A high intake of red and/or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes and high-fat gravy is associated with an increased risk of depression.
Resources and References
health.harvard.edu. “Diet and Depression”. Published February 22 2018. Accessed February 23 2019.
apa.org. American Psychological Association. “Exercise Helps Keep Your Psyche Fit”. Published May 28 2004. Accessed February 23 2019.