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What are they and why do I need to know about them?  Well, they are a chemical in your brain that can affect your depression.  If you are taking anti-depressants (which work to elevate seratonin levels in your brain), and they are not enough--you are still not feeling happy, content, or at peace-- you may have low endorphins.  Endorphins are an opiate, and effect your brain the way that morphine does (morphine is also an opiate).  It is the chemical responsible for "runners high".

Healthy Endorphin Raisers

Unhealthy Endorphin Raisers

Going for a walk or gentle exercise. Having an argument. (Ever started one deliberately and wondered why?)
Playing with your pets. Reliving confrontations, arguments, or painful episodes over and over in your head.
Having sex. Picking at hangnails, pimples, scabs.
Wearing a color you love. Excessive exercise at an intense level.
Spending time with people you love and like. Repetitive obsessive compulsive behaviours.
Doing a favorite activity. Eating a lot of sugar.
Repetitive motions (such as knitting or hand sewing). Drinking a lot of caffeine.
Getting out into natural light, especially sunshine. Drinking a lot of alcohol.
Singing and/or dancing to your favorite music. Causing yourself physical pain.
A warm bubble bath. Imagining a confrontation or an argument in your head.
Laughing. Road rage.
Chanting. Being late for an appointment.
Having a good cry. Rushing to meet a deadline (do you wait until the last minute to finish projects? Work 'well' under pressure?)
Being in natural surroundings. Creating or participating in "drama" in your work, family, or social situation.

Do any of the unhealthy endorphin raisers sound familiar?  If you are engaging in these behaviors, it is because the endorphin chemicals in your brain are low, and you are unconsciously looking to increase it.  That makes a lot of your actions more understandable, doesn't it? <smile> 

Our bodies are smart, they know what they need, they just don't always choose the best way to get it.  Understanding is power, observe your behaviors and be gentle with yourself.  Your body is out of balance, and it is that unbalance that is causing your behavior, not a flaw in your personality.


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Tip:  Make your endorphin raising activities gentle.  Too vigorous, and you get an endorphin spike (which is always followed by a crash).  Aim for a gentle increase in endorphins and your feeling of well-being will be less dramatic, but longer lasting.

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For a really fantastic explanation of endorphins, and how they work in your brain, check out "Potatoes Not Prozac"