The Endorphin Effect

In 1972 Candace Pert identified the ‘opiate receptor’, that part of the cell which accepts and then reacts with the pain killers opium and morphine: realising that if the body had ‘receptors’ for these drugs then perhaps they were naturally produced within the body itself, it was not long before ‘endorphins’ (endogenous morphine – morphine produced within the body itself) were discovered. Since then over twenty types of endorphin have been discovered within the nervous system, part of a family of chemicals known as neuropeptides, which carry information around the body.

In the 80’s it was discovered that neuropeptides were produced, not only in the brain but throughout the whole body: this means that the body’s nervous system, immune system and endocrine (hormone) systems are all intimately interlinked; basically endorphins can be produced at any location in the body, and they can flow through the whole system like waves in an ocean.

Endorphins are the bodies natural response to counteract stress and pain; their general effect is to relax tissue so that all the necessary antibodies travel to the affected region to repair and heal the trauma or stress.

Endorphins enhance the immune system by activating natural killer cells, maintaining the flexibility and openness of blood vessels thus supporting the flow of blood to all tissue and so preventing many adult diseases such as strokes and cardio vascular problems.

Understanding how endorphins work and the body-mind connection is crucial for healthcare or for taking care of oneself. Endorphins are essential for both good health and experiencing psychological wellbeing. The basic positive feedback loop looks like:

Neuropeptides> change how body feels > change psychological mood > new behaviour

Or to put it another way:

Endorphins > feeling of pleasure > mood of happiness > friendly behaviour

The key here is that pleasurable events that happen purely within the mind can trigger endorphin release, so we are not dependant on outside circumstances to create situations that release endorphins. In fact the unconscious mind and the psycho-neuro-immunological system cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined.

The Endorphin Effect strategy (as explained by William Bloom in his book of that name) is therefore a body based strategy for building one’s reservoir of opiates from which you can call on when under stress:

Five Strategies for triggering endorphins:

  • Positive Triggers (any event, activity or thought that gives you pleasure)
  • Inner Smile (give your own body kind attention)
  • Curled Deer (sink and relax into the body language of resting)
  • Biophylia (Allow self to feel connected with natural world, with spiritual inspirations and the good things in life)
  • Daily Exercise (twenty minutes minimum to raise metabolism and increase oxygenation of blood)

Four skills necessary:

  • Pause (when stressed OR experiencing pleasure, put on the brakes and take a mental pause)
  • Notice sensations (notice the actual sensations and feelings in your body)
  • Absorb (if the sensations are pleasurable, chill a bit more and absorb the good feeling)
  • Hold (if the sensations are tight, painful or distressing, turn your focus toward them, use the inner smile and ‘hold’ the feelings of discomfort)

Based on the latest findings of neuroscience, these simple techniques, if practiced regularly will enable you to take control of your ‘inner’ environment, and give you tools that you can use anywhere and at any time to build your energy and strengthen your nervous and immune systems enabling you to be better equipped to deal with the stresses and strains of the fast paced, complex times and environments we live in.

It makes sense for Organisations and businesses to invest in their employees health and wellbeing and develop people’s capacity to cope with or even thrive under stress; by teaching people how to maintain and enhance their psychological wellbeing and to take care of themselves, more energy is available to tackle the challenges of the business they are employed to take care of. In short, if you take the time and money to invest in resourcing your greatest assets, your people, the investment will show a demonstrable return in enhanced performance and a better working atmosphere.

For more information and/or workshops or One to One Coaching Sessions to learn how to build a regular practice of  ‘endorphinating’ combined with Energy Medicine contact Rachel:

or to buy the book or the CD check out

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