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Published On: April 23, 2024|Categories: Recovery, Sober Living|

As human beings, we like experiencing happiness, joy, and all those emotions that come in tandem with feeling good. We seek things that elicit those feelings and pursue those rushes of dopamine, like a perfectly seasoned meal, a hearty laugh with friends, or a real state of zen.

And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with this (it’s unavoidably hardwired in us as humans), there are ways we can pursue these highs that do more harm than good – namely, substance use. In order to keep our lives oriented towards wellness, it’s important to pursue those natural highs in ways that are healthy and natural.

What is a natural high?

A natural high is a state of mind in which the brain naturally taps into its reserve of the feel-good chemical dopamine and elicits the same sense of feeling “high” without using dangerous substances. 

Natural highs do not pose the same risks as substance-induced highs for a number of reasons: 

  • Dopamine is naturally supposed to be released and trigger that pleasurable, feel-good sensation in the body
  • The ways in which you get naturally high do not carry the same health risks and possibilities for addiction the way substances like drugs and alcohol do
  • You don’t run the risk of hijacking your brain and rewiring it with natural highs as you do with chemical highs
  • Natural highs tap into natural dopamine reserves in appropriate amounts, while chemicals force greater, higher-intensity releases of dopamine that are unnatural

Because natural highs cause significantly less damage to the brain and actually promote overall wellness and mental health, they are important to pursue in our daily lives.

How to get a natural high? 

So if natural highs are so important for sustaining mental wellness, how can they be achieved? 

We’re glad you asked. There are countless ways to stimulate a release of dopamine to reduce stress and feel better, but these methods below are some of our personal favorites.

1. Breathwork 

Breathwork comes in various methods, such as box breathing, where you breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four, and hold again for four. Try it now and see if you don’t feel a little more zen afterward. 

Another method to reduce anxiety and stress is the 4-7-8 method, where you inhale for four seconds, hold for seven and exhale for eight. If you practice this a few times a day, you will notice numerous benefits, including better sleep and more manageable emotions. 

Lastly, the Wim Hof breathing method, complete with instructional videos that guide you through the breathing patterns, provides a ten-minute session where you intentionally induce a natural high through timed inhales, exhales, and holds. In Wim’s own words, “Get high on your own supply.” 

2. Exercise 

Exercising is more than just a method of losing weight or staying fit—the action of moving your body through exercise, especially if it’s done in a way you find enjoyable, is great for releasing endorphins and other natural, feel-good hormones. Consider yoga, trail walking, swimming, or a dance class to help move your body in a low-impact but highly invigorating way.  

3. Meditate 

Meditation is known to help reduce stress and put the mind into a genuine place of zen and peace. When you are able to focus on the present moment and let all the other stresses of the day go in the practice of relinquishing what you cannot control, you will experience a release of anxiety and an increase in positivity. 

To get started with meditation today, apps like Headspace and Calm are great places to start. Or check out this recommended meditation app list for more options to help you find the one that works best for you. 

4. Get outside 

We spend a lot of our time cooped up indoors throughout the week – so go outside. 

Whether you choose to garden, hike, hammock, read a book in the sun, fish, canoe, or picnic (the list could go on and on), you are sure to find something out in the sun you enjoy. Spending time outside has been noted to reduce depression, so if you’re in need of a mental boost and a little vitamin D, plan some nature time in your daily routine.

5. Listen to music and dance 

Music is a known mood booster. It can help lift up spirits and improve mood when you are feeling off; dancing does the same. Moving your body to music is a great way to increase endorphins and promote a dopamine rush. 

Whether you walk outside with headphones in or take a dance class (studios all over offer classes for adults), you are likely to find that having music on more often and allowing yourself to move to the music will make you feel better overall. 

Where can I find additional support for my mental health? 

If you are seeking mental health support in any way – from general counseling to addiction treatment – High Focus Centers is equipped to help you in whatever way suits you best. Our personalized treatment plans will allow you to find recovery and wellness once again. 

To get started on your journey, contact High Focus Centers by calling 610-644-6464 or contacting us online.

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