How to Release Endorphins for Pain Relief

Three Methods:Releasing Endorphins Through ExerciseReleasing Endorphins Through PleasureReleasing Endorphins with Specific Foods

Endorphins are the body's natural pain relief system. They're chemicals that get released when you do certain activities or eat certain foods. Endorphins can help boost your mood, but they can also help relieve chronic or temporary pain.

Method 1
Releasing Endorphins Through Exercise

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    Choose a type of exercise. If you’re in pain, the idea of exercising might seem very unappealing; however, exercise is one of the best ways to get an endorphin release. Endorphins are what cause the famous "runner's high," or feelings of contentment, happiness, and joy. You can even choose a type of exercise that will help mitigate the kind of pain you have.[1]
    • You don’t need to do anything particularly strenuous to get an endorphin release. You can take a water fitness class or simply go for a brisk walk. Tai chi and yoga can also be gentle ways to exercise.
    • Anything that gets your blood circulating more than average will stimulate an endorphin release. Try biking slowly, canoeing, ballroom dancing, gardening, walking briskly, or water aerobics. Do what you can and ask your doctor for advice if you need to.
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    Exercise for a sustained period. In order to get an endorphin release, you need to exercise for a sustained period of time. Try to exercise for at least 20 minutes at a time. If you can exercise for closer to 45 or 60 minutes, that’s even better.[2]
    • It is recommended you aim for a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. You can break this up into smaller chunks of time to make this more manageable.[3]
    • Pace yourself. Exercise at a lower intensity level for a longer period of time.
    • Listen to your body. If something hurts, stop and take a rest. It’s not worth hurting yourself in order to get an endorphin rush. That defeats the purpose!
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    Exercise in a group. Studies have shown that group fitness helps boost endorphins partly because of the social aspect. You can take a class at a gym or form an exercise group on your own.[4]
    • In one study of note, group fitness improved mood in older women suffering from an acute illness.[5]
    • Find other people who are in similar physical shape as you. That way, you’ll all be able to agree on a pace or level of intensity.
    • Gyms and yoga studios often offer classes for people with limited mobility. If your pain prevents you from doing certain physical activities, these may be good options for you.

Method 2
Releasing Endorphins Through Pleasure

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    Laugh! You know how after a hearty laugh you actually feel good? That’s because laughing is a great way to release endorphins. Some people even practice laughing yoga, a practice that brings people together to stimulate a sustained period of laughing.[6]
    • Watch a funny movie or TV show that you know you enjoy.
    • Go to a comedy show at your local comedy club.
    • Spend time with friends who make you laugh.
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    Have sex. There’s a reason people seem to have that special glow after they’ve had a particularly passionate encounter. Sex releases endorphins. Of course, you probably don’t want to tell your partner that you’re only in it for the pain relief, but chances are that’s not the whole story anyway.[7]
    • Masturbation also produces an endorphin rush and can be used to get the same effect.
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    Play music. Playing music is pleasurable partly because it helps release endorphins. If you sing or play an instrument, spend some time making music and see how you feel.[8]
    • Playing music with others can be helpful, too, for the social component.
    • If you don’t play an instrument, you may want to take one up if you have time.
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    Gossip. Your mother may have told you that gossip is a vice, but it’s one that can actually help with pain. Studies have shown that when people engage in some juicy gossip they release endorphins from the pleasure it brings them.[9]
    • Make sure you keep the gossip relatively harmless. You don’t want to create emotional pain for yourself or anyone else.

Method 3
Releasing Endorphins with Specific Foods

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    Eat hot peppers. Hot peppers are hot because they contain capsaicin, a compound that gets the body to release endorphins. The pain that your body feels from the heat of the pepper causes the endorphin release as a way to sooth the pain.[10]
    • The hotter the pepper, the greater the endorphin release is likely to be; however, hot peppers can be extremely painful. Experiment with different levels of heat before trying super hot ones.
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    Eat dark chocolate. This one shouldn’t be too hard to get on board with. Part of the reason people crave chocolate is because of the endorphin rush they get after consuming it.[11]
    • The higher the cocoa content, the better the chocolate will be for an endorphin rush. Check the label, as many finer chocolates will list the percentage of cocoa in the product.
    • Milk chocolate usually contains significantly less cocoa, so it will not be particularly effective.
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    Include some fats and sugar in your diet. People who have low endorphin levels tend to crave fats and sugar. Eating a moderate amount of comfort foods that contain these pleasurable elements can help release endorphins.[12]
    • Don’t go overboard. Eating too much fat and sugar can make you sluggish. Eat enough for it to be pleasurable, but not so much that you feel stuffed.
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    Drink alcohol. Alcohol should always be consumed in moderation; however, if you’re of legal drinking age, a glass of wine or a pint of beer can help release the endorphins you need to ease your pain.[13]
    • It’s easy to develop a tolerance for alcohol. To avoid this, avoid drinking too frequently. That way, you’ll be able to get the endorphin release without needing to drink excessively.
    • If you are a recovering alcoholic, or you’ve struggled with substance abuse in the past, avoid alcohol altogether.
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    Add a little vanilla flavoring. The scent of vanilla is thought to improve mood and enhance overall well being. Vanilla helps to reduce anxiety, which is often associated with depression. To get the health benefits of vanilla add some to your coffee before it brews, buy some scented candles, or add the essential oil extract to your bathwater.[14]
    • Another scent that may be helpful is lavender, which can improve symptoms of depression and insomnia. Add a little lavender to frosting if you're indulging in a cupcake, or try a scented candle or use oil in a diffuser.


  • Try to keep your stress levels low in general.
  • Engage in all kinds of pleasurable activities, even if the pain makes you reluctant. Figure out what you are capable of, and do that.


  • Opioid medications simulate the effect of endorphins for the relief of pain; however, they may make it more difficult for your body to create and release its own natural pain relief system in the future. They can also be highly addictive and have a number of other negative side effects.

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Categories: Stress Anxiety and Crisis Management