The economy might be in the dumps, but there's an easy way to improve your mood that has nothing to do with mood-altering prescriptions. Endorphins are hormones that are naturally released by the body to help elevate a person's pain threshold. They also have a calming, even euphoric effect. The word "endorphin" actually means "the morphine within" [source: dictionary.com].
In one study, it was found that the endorphins released from just 45 minutes of exercise three times a week were as effective at improving mood and reducing depression as a prescription of Zoloft [source: Columbia.edu]. Best of all, WebMD cites several low-energy exercises that are good for releasing endorphins, such as:
- Housework (vacuuming, mopping)
- Yard work
- Golf (sans the cart)
But let's face it, for some of us, the idea of golf without a cart is heresy, and the closest we get to a bike is when a motorcycle drives by. Fortunately for couch potatoes everywhere, the old adage is true: Laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing causes the body to release endorphins. In fact, even the anticipation of laughter can be beneficial. One study showed an increase in endorphin production in people who were simply looking forward to watching a funny video [source: WebMD].
Endorphins are not exclusively tied to laughter and exercise, however. Everything from viewing beautiful art to thinking positive thoughts can help you naturally and effectively stay in an upbeat, positive frame of mind.