By: Cordelia Bloom
Before jumping right into the article, please enjoy this microfiction insert:
I remember it was early morning, and it was snowy outside. I was sipping coffee from my favorite mug. I was wearing my favorite loungewear, and I had my bulky, oversized crocheted cardigan on.
I took a deep breath when I stepped out onto the balcony and took another as I sat on the balcony’s huge papasan chair. As I looked into the mountains and took another sip, I cleared my thoughts. It was so pleasantly quiet—even the morning chirps felt like whispers. Peace is what I remember feeling most.
Peace and the sense that I could take on the whole world is what I felt. All of a sudden I could feel, I could comprehend, that it was okay to reinvent myself at this stage of my life. It was exhilarating! So much relief floated away, so much angst lifted itself from my shoulders.
In that instance, I accepted everything Life had thrown in my direction—it was all meant to lead me to Time. It was all that needed to happen so I could end up in this perfect, blissful moment.
I was certainly where I was meant to be.
Striving for Natural Highs
Take a moment to close your eyes and think back to the last time you truly enjoyed yourself. Were you painting, crocheting, playing a sport, redecorating, visiting an old friend? How did you feel?
Are you noticing that tiny skip coming from your heart? For those minutes (and sometimes seconds) where you feel like anything is possible—in that moment, your endorphins are at a thousand!
Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that are released (by the body) in order to help cope with pain and stress (Chapman House, 2022). The release of endorphins causes very real sensations in the body—and these feelings are also known as artificial “highs”—and your levels of dopamine and serotonin rise. Some natural effects include:
- feeling elated
- elevated heart rate
- intense pleasure
- changes in blood pressure
Can you identify with any of these as you reminisce about that last time you were completely rejoiced? Then you, my dear reader, have definitely been naturally high. However fleeting these moments might be, people thrive on these effects.
Who wouldn’t want a feel-good boost on a daily basis?
Stay on That Positivity Wave
Fortunately, according to Chapman House, a Behavioral Health Treatment Program since 1978, we can learn to develop multiple ways to produce natural highs in order to (help) get rid of everyday pains and stress-induced situations. We’ve already discussed that natural highs boost our mood—they also improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Isn’t that amazing?
If you’re finding yourself wondering what these things might be, some recommended ones are:
- exercise regularly
- spend time with family and friends
- laugh a lot
- eat spicy food or food you enjoy
- find a hobby that makes you happy
- volunteer and help others
- write in your journal
These are all excellent ideas and activities that we can add to our day-to-day to help improve our overall well-being and, therefore, our mental health.
Our sense of self-encouragement and positivity are enhanced by natural highs. Tchiki Davis, a well-being expert and program creator, explains that when we’re positive, we engage in positive thinking, have positive emotions, and engage in positive behaviors like kindness and generosity. In order to grow this (positivity) aspect, we could use healthy strategies, such as self-compassion and self-kindness.
We’re all different, which means that whatever causes a natural high for each of us can be just that—different. A natural high isn’t meant to withstand long-term happiness, it’s about feeling happy in a certain moment on a particular day (Nields, 2017). Ever heard of a “runner’s high” or of a “light-bulb moment” (epiphany)? Those can be considered natural highs for someone who is passionate about running, and for a writer or somebody with an entrepreneurial mind.
Another way to look at it? It’s not only finding happiness in the little things, but it’s also savoring that moment of pure delight.
Create Your Natural High List
To be naturally high means pure happiness, no matter how fleeting it might be. The term refers to an overall feeling of wellbeing and pleasure that doesn’t come from drugs, isn’t artificial, and doesn’t pose serious health risks or result in an overdose (Robb-Dover, 2020). Creating a natural high list can be quite exhilarating in itself!
Looking at the many ways to experience a natural high can be an undertaking, for there is a limitless range of activities to choose from or to discover! FHE Health—a healthcare institution that delivers quality, medically integrated personalized treatment for those suffering from behavioral health disorders—shared in one of their blog articles the following ideas to help jump start our “natural high list” (Robb-Dover, 2020):
- try something new or master a challenging sport/hobby
- eat something delicious (savor a good meal)
- quality time (walk with a friend)
- go to the beach (wriggle toes in the sand)
- create a bouquet (pick the flowers yourself)
- enjoy nature’s wonders (watch the sunrise or take in a Natural Park)
- activate your senses (walk through snow or observe the water ripples)
- have a good laugh
- embrace intimacy (embosom your partner)
- practice yoga or deep-breath exercises
The list could keep going on and on! Trust me when I say this, my dear reader, if you weren’t able to picture or think about the last time you really enjoyed yourself; it’s worth finding out what could give you a natural high. If you do, however, remember a time you had (and felt) amazing, then kudos. We should all (try to) be on track to living a more positive and enriched life, and being connected to what factors into our natural highs is an essential ingredient, a key to a fulfilling mental health and well-being.
Either way, I’m quite happy and proud to know you’ve reached the end of this article. So allow me to ask again—when did you truly enjoy yourself or what made you happy? I’d use this opportunity to journal with The Love Story and share when that last time was; describe how amazing it felt! The Love Story is a safe space that welcomes everyone to write freely while participating in workshops, where journal prompts are often used to inspire. Journal with The Love Story by clicking the link below.
Chapman House Team. (2022, March 10). What’s a natural high? Chapman House. https://www.chapmanrehab.com/post/whats-a-natural-high#:~:text=A%20natural%20high%20is%20actually,without%20the%20use%20of%20drugs.
Davis, T. (n.d.). Positivity: The psychology, definition, and examples. Berkeley Well-Being Institute. https://www.berkeleywellbeing.com/positivity.html#:~:text=purchases%20of%20products.-,What%20Is%20Positivity%3F,behaviors%20like%20kindness%20and%20generosity.
Nields, K. (2017, March 21). Get (naturally) high. The Key to Happiness from Penn State. https://sites.psu.edu/thekeytohapiness/2017/03/21/get-naturally-high/
Robb-Dover, K. (2020, July 2). 25 Ways to get high naturally. FHE Health. https://fherehab.com/learning/25-natural-highs/