Photo credit: Hearst Owned Photo credit: Hearst Owned How do you prevent being alone from turning into feeling lonely —especially during a pandemic ? Science tells us that the key is reaching for small things that might spark happiness by creating a flood of feel-good chemicals in your body. “It’s okay to give ourselves time and space to cry, complain, or be angry at a time like this,” says Miami-based mental health counselor Raquel Espinel Suarez. “But remember to set a timer—literally—so that there’s a hard end to any wallowing. Once it dings, do something that will trigger happiness, bring back a pleasant memory, or make you smile.”
Although happiness generators are often deeply personal, there are certain crowd-pleasing actions that have been scientifically proven to release endorphins and dopamine, the hormones that kickstart happiness. Here, your to-do list for getting chipper—even when you’re feeling anything but. EAT SOMETHING
Turns out the greatest comfort food is actually… all food. According to a 2017 study from the Academy of Finland, the simple act of eating releases endorphins. Whether you’re digging into a delicious pizza or virtuously sipping a flavorless nutritional drink, your brain becomes flooded with its own natural opioids, creating pleasurable feelings. Additional research shows that chowing down releases dopamine not once, but twice—first as we’re consuming the food, and again once the nourishment hits our stomachs. That being said, there are specific foods that can up the ante on feeling blissful. Those include:
Chocolate. Everyone’s favorite indulgence has been shown to release endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, creating an antidepressant effect—and that’s particularly true of dark chocolate. But to reap the benefits, you only need a square or two…not an Easter basket ‘s worth.
Spicy foods. If your motto is the hotter the better, you may already be familiar with the feel-good flood in your body that occurs after eating chili peppers. Research shows that the burning in your mouth after ingesting capsaicin (the natural chemical that makes peppers hot) is actually a sensation, not a taste—and the scorching it creates sends an SOS signal to your brain to relieve the pain ASAP. That’s when endorphins rush to the rescue as your body’s way of blocking the pain and making you feel good.