Just picture the scene: a picnic blanket on the grass, a good book in your hands and sunshine to gently warm your skin. Or a nice walk in the country. Or lying on the sand, staring at the sea, maybe enjoying a chocolate ice-cream. What do these three scenes have in common? Good moods and happiness! Summer makes us happier, relaxed and peaceful. Partly because of our holidays but also because the increased exposure to sunlight stimulates our body’s production of endorphins.
What are endorphins? It’s a group of substances, classified as neurotransmitters. They affect our mood: when endorphins are produced, they make us happy and add a sense of fulfilment and pleasure, helping us withstand everyday stress and preventing depression and sadness.
Stimulating endorphin production can make you happier for longer. Here’s how:
Stay in the open air: above all else take advantage of the summer sun and enjoy the open air: exposure to nature helps to oxygenate your brain and to eliminate bad moods and negative thoughts. Go for a walk in the wood or by the sea and breath deeply, enjoying all the different fragrances of nature: lavender and vanilla have the power to reduce anxiety, bringing to your body a new sensation of well-being and relaxation.
Enjoy the sunlight…in moderation: Summer means sun, topping up your suntan with all the usual precautions – such as avoiding sun in the middle of the day, applying an adequate SPF sunscreen and covering your head with a bandana or a hat. It is proven that the exposure to sunlight increases the production of endorphins and of Vitamin D, crucial for the health of your bones.
Eat some chocolate (or another favourite food): eating chocolate is good for your health: dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and other positive elements, such as Theobromine (good for coughs), and flavonoids, which reinforce the immune system. And chocolate activates the production of endorphins, the hormones able to inhibit pain and increase the sense of happiness. So when you feel down, the solution might be chocolate!
Do some exercise: taking part in sport is a good choice for your health: it helps you stay in shape and lose some weight, but it puts you in a good mood too. After a training session, the production of endorphins is boosted by up to 500%: this explains the sensation of fulfilment and happiness following a run in the park or a game of beach volleyball. Try to make time for exercise at least three times a week: a walk in a park or a dip at the swimming pool is enough to relieve stress and regain your good mood!
Smile and laugh: smiling is as easy as it is crucial: just the simple act of turning up the corners of your mouth releases plenty of endorphins to the brain. The physical act of laughing – opening your mouth, squeezing your eyes and moving facial and abdominal muscles – brings messages of happiness and wellbeing to your brain, which responds by producing the hormones for a good mood.