Most of us are high almost all day. Whether it’s sugar, caffeine or food in general, all of these substances create a positive altered state of consciousness. Basically, we have a “normal waking state” that can be measured physiologically, as in heart-rate, brain waves and brain chemistry. `Getting high’ can be boiled down to changing your physiology so that you experience a different state of awareness, usually heightened.
Consider an interesting idea: we’re supposed to get high on a regular basis. Just think, based on this definition, eating gets you high. But there’s a cost associated. When we eat, we create change in the body as it responds to that food. This change stresses the body and slightly damages it. That’s how we age – wear and tear is the result of using our bodies and, well, living.
While this may come as bad news for some, it also means that we have a certain level of control in aging. We can prolong our lives by choosing less damaging alternatives! In addition, because our bodies are smart organisms, we naturally create a resistance after first exposure. We need more of the same thing to get the same effect. Here lies the rub of addiction. Enter: balance and variety!
To help you fulfill your natural instincts to alter your state of mind, here is a list of 20 ways to naturally get high:
- Food. Food, and even the act of eating, affects us on many different levels. It makes us feel good because it involves our emotional neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine and serotonin.
- Naturally occurring sugar. Another form of food, sugar deserves its own category because it has a slightly different affect on our bodies. Simple carbohydrates, food that taste sweet on the tongue, digests and are absorbed very quickly. The pancreas compensates by releasing large amounts of insulin, which can lead to an adrenaline rush.
- Exercise. Physical activity is believed to release endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever, and the feel good hormone and neurotransmitter, epinephrine.
- Sleep. We actually move through several states of awareness during sleep. So far 3 stages of sleep have been identified: alpha waves, sleep spindles and REM (rapid eye movement, or dreaming).
- Love. Nature deemed love and bonding so important to survival that She made them stimulate brain hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, which are integral for social attachment.
- Being in love. Romantic love, like sugar, deserves its own category because of its unique affects. Brain scans show that being in love is linked to dopamine, the brain chemical closely associated with euphoria, craving and addiction. Also like sugar, the body can only endure this passion for a limited time before rebounding. This marks the end of the `honeymoon period’.
- Sex. Sexual activity and orgasms involve increasing dopamine levels, providing feelings of enjoyment and stimulating the reward center of our brains. Nature rewards us through positive feelings so that we’re motivated to do it more, reproduce and win the game of life by passing our genes on.
- Laughter. They’ve only begun to test the benefits of laughter but already they’ve found that it reduces pain, prevents negative stress and boosts the immune system. They believe laughter works by releasing endorphins and decreasing hormones and neurotransmitters associated with the stress response.
This is a huge post already so stay tuned for 12 more natural ways to get high in next week’s Part 2!