Boost Your Happy Hormones and Live Longer

Have you ever wondered why people like receiving flowers or chocolates? Well, a slew of case studies and research claims that both flowers and chocolates boost happy hormones. But what is it about them that can trigger this type of emotional response? And how do happy hormones affect our daily lives and possibly prolong living? Thanks to several researchers and health professionals and psychologists, there’s now more evidence that happy hormones can help us live longer! 

In this article, we will take a look at what happy hormones are, what do they do besides making us happy, and how can they possibly aid in prolonging our lives. Understanding these facts will assist you in taking care of your health and lead you towards a better understanding of how the human body functions. 

What are the happy hormones? 

Not to be confused as neurotransmitters (because they are both chemical molecules and some molecules can function as both), hormones are chemical signalling molecules that are produced by glands. They are released in our blood, then travel to different areas in the body, act as messengers, and play important roles in many bodily processes.

The main difference between hormones and neurotransmitters is that while the hormones get released in the bloodstream, the neurotransmitters are released in between the synaptic gap (also called the synapse) or the space between our neurons.

What are the examples of happy hormones?

Happy hormones include the following chemical molecules:

Dopamine - “The feel-good happy hormone”

Dopamine can be found naturally in the human body. It is a hormone that plays a major role in our brain’s reward system as it is associated with pleasurable sensations and satisfaction. The brain releases this hormone/neurotransmitter when we have sex or when we eat foods that we crave.

woman holding fork in front table

Dopamine enhances mood, helps us feel motivated, improves attention, and helps us regulate movement. It is also critical for learning, memory, and eliciting emotional responses.

Serotonin - “The well-being hormone”

Known as the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in the scientific field, serotonin is also a hormone that can act as a neurotransmitter like dopamine. It has been a popular hormone as it is known to contribute to feelings of well-being. 

Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our feelings of well-being, regulates our mood and happiness. It also impacts several processes in the entire body, regulating appetite, digestion, learning ability, memory, mood, and sleep.

laughing woman while squatting

As a neurotransmitter, serotonin or 5HT enables the communication between our nervous system. While it is known to boost a sense of well-being and happiness, too much serotonin in the body can also result in feelings of confusion, excessive nerve cell activity, and other physical manifestations. If the brain lacks serotonin, it can lead to depression, anxiety, and maintains bone health issues.

Oxytocin - “The Love Hormone”

Dubbed as the love hormone, oxytocin is a chemical produced by our hypothalamus, which is secreted by the pituitary gland into our system. This hormone plays a crucial role in feelings of love and affection (thus the alternate name ‘the love hormone) and childbirth.

In men, oxytocin helps with male reproduction, as it aids in the production of testosterone in the testes and moving sperm. 

man in white crew neck t-shirt kissing woman in white dress

This hormone is essential as it can help promote empathy, trust, and bonding in various relationships like strong parent-child bonding during breastfeeding. Oxytocin level is crucial during childbirth and it generally increases with physical affection such as cuddling, kissing, and sex. 

Endorphins  - “The Pain-Relieving Hormone”

Endorphins are our body’s natural pain reliever. When we experience pain, stress, or discomfort, our brain tries to enhance our mood by stimulating the release of this hormone.

woman playing guitar sitting beside with woman wearing scarf

The endorphin level increases when we tend to in reward-producing activities like eating, having sex, working out, listening to music, getting a massage, and etc.

Why boost your happy hormones?

Research suggests that the happy hormones do not just beat the blues, in summary, happy hormones (depending on the type) can:

  • Decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Enhance the sense of well-being
  • Help reduce anxiety and discomfort
  • Help you live longer
  • Improve social life
  • Prevents Alzheimer’s risk by 45 percent!
  • Promote loving relationships
  • Reduce pain sensations

How do you boost your happy hormones naturally?

Wanna feel pretty darn good and live longer? Here’s a look at how by boosting your happy hormones naturally.

Do something kind for another person

To boost your love hormones and other mood-boosting neurotransmitters in your body, you just have to send some love out there. Whether via Facebook messenger, text message, or a quick face to face chat, you can increase not only one, but several happy hormones. For one, according to a research in the University of Chicago, by sending a quick e-mail, or a text message, you can increase the production of your oxytocin by thirty-seven percent (37%), which lasts for approximately two hours straight! 

Dr. David Hamilton, further explains that there are three ways that kindness impacts the brain and body: one, it supports the immune system, secondly, it reduces inflammation, and last but not the least, it supports mental health.

blue and white brick wall

Being kind not only taps into promoting interrelationships but also physically affects our bodies as nature’s reward for expressing the best in us. So, the minute after reading this article, send out some love and boost your happy hormone.

Take a warm, relaxing scented bath

Relaxing in a warm and scented bath with any product you love can keep your happy hormones (particularly oxytocin and serotonin) elevated until about six hours according to Brown University researchers. Scents such as jasmine, lavender, rose, or vanilla in bathwater are some examples but you can use any bath scents you like.

woman in bathtub with mirror

Whenever you soothe your brain’s anxiety center by relaxing in a warm bath, your body uses less oxytocin and serotonin to function, making these happy hormones available to the cells in the rest of your body the moment you need them most.

Laugh with your family or friends

Who gets tired of hearing the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine”? While it sometimes feels redundant to hear this saying every now and then, it sure proves to be applicable to this age.

Laughing won’t magically heal a heart disease or some physical injury, of course. But, it can help speed up recovery, relieve feelings of discomfort, and improve a low mood. In fact, in a research among 12 individuals, social laughter was correlated with an elevated pain threshold. This study means that when laughter is elicited with others, the minimum intensity at which an individual begins to feel, sense, or perceive a stimulus as being painful is significantly increased.

smiling man in blue shorts on beach during daytime

So, you can probably plan a movie night and watch a comedy special with a friend, exchange funny jokes, play on the beach, or share funny videos using your social media apps!

Eat berries and leafy greens

Adding berries and leafy greens such as kale in your diet (let’s say two cups of each a week) could increase your serotonin levels up to twenty percent in three weeks. This is according to a research published in the journal Pharmacological Research.

flat lay photography of boxes of berries

The authors of the study say that both berries and kale are rich in nutrients called anthocyanins, which encourages the brain to boost the production and release of the said happy hormone.

There are plenty of foods that can affect mood and boost your happy hormones, but to help you out, here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
  • Black beans, lima beans, and lentils
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fish such as salmon, sardines, trout, and mackerel
  • Leafy greens like kale
  • Whole fruits such as bananas, apples, and oranges

These foods will not only help you be fit, but they can also lift your mood, and help you focus.

Get a massage

Did you know that massage can trigger not just one, but four happy hormones? Yes, according to several research studies, massage can increase the release of dopamine, and serotonin, as well as boost endorphins and oxytocin. It can also help improve signs or symptoms of certain physical health concerns like chronic pain and relieve stress. 

If you wanna try getting a massage, just be sure you are allowed to, because there are certain types of massage that may be contraindicated to some medical conditions. Here are some of the possible contraindications to massage:

  • Bell’s palsy
  • Cancer
  • Cardio-vascular conditions (thrombosis, phlebitis, hypertension, heart conditions)
  • Diabetes
  • Eczema
  • Edema
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart problems, chest pains, those with pacemakers
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Nervous or psychotic conditions
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pinched or trapped nerves
  • Psoriasis

Take herbal teas

Another natural way to lift up your mood is to drink herbal teas. Yes! You read that right. Besides the fact that the medical benefits you can get from consuming herbal teas are countless, drinking tea is also very helpful in improving emotional and mental health.

shallow focus photography cup of tea

The most effective herbal teas that can lift your mood by increasing the levels of happy hormones and relax the nerves are as follows:

  • Ginger
  • Green tea (yerba mate)
  • Lemongrass
  • Rooibos
  • Turmeric
  • Valerian

Accordingly, these herbal teas can help you be happy and experience mood improvements, which can further result in a longer, and better quality of life.

Give dietary supplements a try

Hormones and neurotransmitter balance also depend on other nutrients in the body and certain body processes. If you lack certain nutrients, or if some processes in the body go haywire like problems with blood sugar levels or gut issues, the stimulation, production, or release of your happy hormones can get affected.

Start taking supplements as appropriate after discussing options with your family physician. You might need one or two to help you remain healthy and happy.

Exercise Regularly

The benefits of exercise in helping people live longer can’t be denied. Its health benefits are not just limited to physical but as impressive as it is, working out and exercising also promote mental, emotional health, and social wellbeing.

Thanks to the natural pain relievers called endorphins, we are likely to be happier and healthy.

people doing yoga inside gym

In fact, researchers claim that moderate-intensity and continuous exercise are linked to endorphin release which can result in feelings of euphoria and satisfaction. As an added bonus, exercising in a group may even trigger the release of other hormones!

So, why not join a group yoga or other group workouts?

Try acupuncture

Acupuncture is an alternative form of treatment and a Chinese therapy that uses specialized needles to stimulate various pressure points in the body.

Many people seem to go against it, but there are a lot of individuals and groups participating in scientific and medical case studies who have found acupuncture beneficial for a range of issues, such as:

According to researchers,  these benefits can be attributed to the release of endorphins when the needles are inserted during acupuncture.

body massage

It is generally safe for most people and may be worth a try to boost the levels of your happy hormone endorphin, so you can give it a try and experience feelings beyond pain relief. 

Use essential oils

According to a research published in 2017, entitled the Effects of Inhalation Aromatherapy on Symptoms of Sleep Disturbance in the Elderly with Dementia, findings suggest that some essential oils such as lavender can boost happiness by releasing endorphins.

In another 2012 study on Lavender’s Effect on Anxiety and Pain Caused From Intrauterine Device (IUD) Insertion, lavender aromatherapy showed considerable impact in reducing feelings of anxiety of IUD insertion.

person holding bottle

Besides lavender, mood-boosting essential oils include:

  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Citrus oil fragrances such as lime, grapefruit, or orange
  • Clary sage
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Roman chamomile
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang ylang

So, are you feeling down and wondering if essential oils can help? Find out by giving it a try!

Enjoy the sun

Humans had enjoyed, lived, and depended on sunlight since many years ago. While too much sunlight poses harmful effects on health, it also brings many health benefits. In fact, you can improve your health for free with sunlight. It helps produce vitamin D, improves brain function, helps maintain calcium and phosphorus levels, reduces the risk of peripheral vascular diseases, and boosts happy hormones which can improve mood and increase energy.

silhouette of woman during sunset

Staying under the sun for at least 15 minutes a few times a week can be beneficial. However, we recommend using sunscreen to minimize the effects of ultraviolet radiation, especially if you are going outdoors for extended periods.

Indulge in your comfort food

An occasional treat isn’t too bad if you indulge in it in moderation. Whether it is a bar of chocolate or a piece of cake, satisfy your sweet tooth every once in a while.

woman in green jacket holding chocolate ice cream coated of nuts during daytime shallow focus photography

Sweets, especially chocolate, aids in the release of endorphins. It promotes feelings of bliss and makes you feel good.

Spend intimate moments with your partner

Remember that euphoric feeling whenever you have intimate moments with your partner? You can say thanks to your hormones such as endorphins and oxytocin for that. These hormones offer many health benefits beyond bliss, they also:

  • helps with pain relief
  • improves self-esteem
  • reduces stress

Get some flowers, or make an herb garden

What more can we say but “plants can make you feel better”! This is the reason why some people enjoy gardening. How do plants uplift our mood? Well, besides reducing mental strain, plants, flowers, and herbs can help you relax by promoting the release of certain hormones in the body including endorphins. It is true!

white and yellow flower in bloom during daytime

In fact, the brightening physiological effect when we receive a bouquet of flowers is not just because the blooms are pretty and nice to look at; studies have proven that the colours and scents have the power to instantly provoke feelings of gratification.

The study took 10 months, examining the link between life satisfaction and receiving flowers. The result showed that the participants experienced an instant boost in happiness. Moreover, it was reported that the participants experienced long-term effects of feeling less anxious, agitated, and depressed.

several pendant lamps

But, it does not mean that these impacts are limited to receiving flowers. You can also get a happy hormone boost by gardening, stepping out in nature to see wildflowers, or getting some indoor plants like herbs. Although it’s challenging to do these kinds of activities these days due to work and various errands, it won’t hurt to try. Plants have been known to have long-term positive effects not just emotionally, but also physically and spiritually.

Have a glass of wine

If chocolate is not your comfort food, you can also get a mood boosting effect by enjoying a glass of red wine, which can also trigger endorphin release.

clear drinking glass with red liquid

In a research published in the journal BMC Medicine, researchers from Spain observed that those who drank moderate amounts of red wine, at about 5 to 15 mL a day were less likely to suffer from signs and symptoms of depression.

Additionally, the researchers in the said study say that these results stayed the same even when considering other factors that may have an effect on the mood including social life and lifestyle.

However, it is important to note that further findings suggest that excessive wine consumption (for example: more than seven glasses a week) may have an opposite effect and increase the risk of depression.

Listen to some good music

woman wearing white headphones

If you have heard that playing an instrument is rewarding, you probably know that listening to music can also be its own reward. Either way, music can induce endorphin release. In fact, research suggests that music can elevate the pain threshold, promote good feelings, improve mood, and enhance the quality of life.

Take time to watch your favourite films or television shows

person holding black remote control

If you enjoy watching tv series, whether it is action, adventure, anime, drama, fantasy, sci-fi, or other kinds of genres, you should continue doing so. Why? Because watching comedy is not the only genre that can boost your happy hormones— specifically your endorphin levels. As a matter of fact, evidence suggests that people might get a similar increase in endorphins when watching a drama. Now that you know, go ahead and turn that tv on and watch your favourite tearjerker film or any show that moves you.

Here’s a review:

  • Happy hormones include dopamine (the feel-good happy hormone), endorphins (the pain-relieving hormone), oxytocin (the love hormone), and serotonin (the well-being hormone).
  • You can boost your happy hormones by:
    • doing something kind for another person
    • taking a warm, relaxing scented bath
    • laughing with your family or friends
    • eating berries and leafy greens
    • giving dietary supplements a try
    • exercising regularly
    • trying acupuncture
    • using essential oils
    • enjoying the sun
    • indulging in your comfort food
    • having a glass of wine
    • spending intimate moments with your partner
    • listening to some good music
    • getting a massage
    • taking the time to watch your favourite films or television shows
    • getting some flowers, or making an herb garden
  • Happy hormones do not just beat the blues, depending on the type they also can:
    • Decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke
    • Enhance the sense of well-being
    • Help reduce anxiety and discomfort
    • Help you live longer
    • Improve social life
    • Prevents Alzheimer’s risk by 45 percent!
    • Promote loving relationships
    • Reduce pain sensations

Boost Your Happy Hormones and Live Longer 

Now that you know what happy hormones are, how they affect your body and how they can work in tandem with other nutrients in the body, it may be a little easier for you to boost your mood and support longevity. Feel more joyful and fit on a daily basis with your happy hormones!

Medical Disclaimer: Please Read!

This article on boosting happy hormones, including all the images, texts, and other links are posted for informational purposes only. We do not intend to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, recommendations, or treatment. Be sure to ask and follow the suggestions and orders of your primary healthcare providers, especially if you have other questions about any health condition. If you have concerns related to this post, please book an appointment with your primary physician and seek his/her advice. Never disregard or delay professional medical instruction due to something you may have read from the articles. For medical emergencies, call 911 immediately, call your primary physician or go to the nearest emergency center as soon as possible. 

man in white suit jacket

Applied Science Nutrition does not recommend or suggest specific physicians, tests, or other medical-surgical procedures that may be mentioned on this website. 

Reliance on any of the information provided by this website, including tips, links to various research, educational sites, case studies, videos, and other content is solely at your own risk. Furthermore, Applied Science Nutrition is not responsible for any of the claims of the external website links included in the article.