Natural highs are intense, euphoric or excited experiences that offer healthy, life affirming choices instead of a drug induced high. We all have the ability to experience natural highs. They occur because the brain releases chemicals called endorphins.  Endorphins are a set of hormones that affect the receptors in the brain, often reducing sensation of pain or stress and which affect our emotions.  They are similar in structure and effect to using opiate drugs.  They help to relieve stress, and keep us energized.  Natural highs exist in all of us.   For example, studies show that exercise boosts your mood, but not just any exercise. Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that the “fleeting sense of euphoria and calm” known as the “runner’s high” requires 50 minutes of hard running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. The kind of exercise that alters your brain chemistry varies from person to person, but intensity seems to induce that magic combination of “analgesia and sedation” we associate with the runner’s high.

Taking a walk in a natural beautiful surrounding, like a beach, park or nature preserve and noticing all of the natural beauty around you can also produce this kind of natural high. Don’t use that time to think of all your problems in your life. Instead, clear your mind and be there in the moment. The peace you’ll experience can provide you with clearer thinking and promote a natural high.

In other words, a natural high produces a good feeling, altering your state of mind, and feeling positive.  For example, getting a massage feels great, but did you know it can also cause the release of endorphins? This is particularly true with a scalp or foot massage.   There are different kinds of natural highs. They can be brief or not.  Here are ten natural highs you can achieve without the use of the effects of harmful drugs, from dance, exercise, laughter, and yoga. These are “healthy highs” compared to that received from drinking and/or drugs.

Drugs and the Negative High

Some people, unfortunately, try to induce a high using alcohol and other harmful drugs. Why? Drugs such as alcohol affect many of the brain chemicals that cause artificial highs by tapping into the communication system and interfering with the way neurons normally send, receive and process information.  Some drugs can activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter.  This similarity “fools” the receptors and allows the drugs to attach onto and activate the neurons.  Although these drugs mimic the brain’s own chemicals, they don’t activate neurons in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter and then lead to abnormal messages being transmitted through the network. They momentarily create and modify our moods, and ease social interactions and enjoyment.

Although much has been researched about alcohol and drug addiction, most people understand little about what draws people to drugs and why they become hooked, even after bad consequences and repeated attempts to quit. There are severe negative side effects from alcohol and drug problems. For example; hangovers, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, accidents, financial problems, relationship and family problems. These problems last much longer than the initial desired effect of the drug.  Natural highs do not cause such devastating, long lasting side effects.
In fact, there is an added special bonus to the natural high.  People who choose a natural high are less likely to get addicted to drugs in the first place. For this reason, exercise regimens have been incorporated into many treatment programs.  Drugs can be the momentary escape from reality for some but can have very lasting dangerous consequences. With balance in mind, though, natural highs can add a healthy joy and pleasure to life and help people in recovery to stay sober at the same time.

People deserve to be the best they can be. We are all capable of enjoying the simple pleasantries of daily life, and contribute fully to our society. Ultimately, we are each responsible for ourselves, our health, our well being, and the effect we have on our family and friends. We can grow old with a clean and active mind.  Why choose unnatural, harmful drugs when you don’t even have to spend a dime for natural highs?  It’s your life and your choice!  So why not make it a good one?  Pledge to live naturally high. Experience the tremendous power of pursuing your passion allowing you to dream more, learn more, do more and become the best you can be.