Getting high doesn’t have to involve consuming alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse and addiction can destroy lives, but there are alternatives and help available. Read on to explore natural highs with positive effects on mind, body and spirit.
What is a High?
A high is a pleasurable feeling associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes a rush of physical and mental satisfaction. Although every drug has different effects, all are connected with this neurotransmitter. Over time, tolerance, dependence and addiction can result. One solution is to learn to get high naturally. These natural highs connect you with dopamine without the negative effects of addiction.
Natural Highs You Can Achieve
There are lots of easy ways get high without drugs. Keep reading for 15 ways to achieve a natural high while reaping a number of other rewards.
1. Mindful Awareness
Living in the moment can produce a natural high like nothing else. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes mindfulness meditation as a potential addiction treatment. In a nutshell, mindfulness involves recognizing bodily sensations and staying present with what’s happening right now. One popular introduction to mindfulness is to wash dishes — focus on the sound of the faucet, the scent of the soap and the feeling of the water.
2. Regular Workouts
We’ve all already heard it a million times: exercise is good for you. While that’s reason enough to fit regular workouts into your schedule, here’s another one. Regular exercise can induce a natural high and make the brain more susceptible to joy and connection with others. Benefits are increased when you exercise as part of a group, although there’s definitely nothing wrong with a solitary walk or solo sweat session.
3. Flow State
Another one of the most powerful natural highs is something called “flow state.” Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes flow state as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” If that’s not a natural high, we don’t know what is. There are multiple ways to find your flow, from engaging in mindful work or enjoying a hobby.
4. Social Connection
Spending time with others is one of the easiest ways to feel good, and it benefits more than just you. Alcohol and drug addiction can destroy relationships, but clean living can renew and rebuild them. Increase your feel-good brain chemicals by having lunch with your best friend or hanging out with your family.
5. Doing Good
Altruism doesn’t just help others. It also gives you a natural high that feels good. Research actually points to evidence proving that good deeds can affect your mental health in a positive way. Choose a charitable pursuit that interests you — if you love animals, volunteer at the shelter. If you love being outdoors, pick up trash or offer to mow neighbors’ yards for free.
6. Interact with a Pet
Another natural high example is the rush of joy you have when interacting with your pet, and research touts the benefits. Spend more time with your dog or cat or adopt one if you’re not already a pet owner. If you live somewhere that doesn’t allow dogs or cats, you can adopt a guinea pig to cuddle or enjoy tending and watching a fish aquarium.
Tending a garden is another relaxing hobby that can create a natural high. The rewards of planting a seed and watching as it grows can increase feel-good chemicals like dopamine. Gardening can be good exercise, and it gets you in touch with nature. If you can’t have an outdoor garden, grow windowsill herbs or house plants for the same beneficial effects.
Exploring new destinations can create unparalleled euphoria. Traveling somewhere you’ve never been keeps you present and engaged in the moment. Plus, you get the sensory rush of a new environment and adventures to explore. Or visit a childhood vacation spot and relive treasured memories for a boost of oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone”.
9. Physical Intimacy
The verdict is in: sex is good for you. It may have cardioprotective effects, and it’s an easy, fun way to increase bonding and connection with your partner. Achieving orgasm releases a rush of brain chemicals including dopamine and oxytocin, both of which are important contributors to a natural high.
10. Dark Chocolate with Green Tea
Studies reveal that dark chocolate and green tea is a snack combo with physical and mental benefits. The cacao in dark chocolate can lower blood pressure, while the l-theanine in green tea produces alpha brain waves associated with pleasant relaxation — much like some types of highs. The low dose of caffeine in regular green tea can also provide a naturally energizing effect.
11. Clean Your Home
We already know that exercise and flow state can help you achieve a natural high. Combine the two with a vigorous house-cleaning session, which also has an added reward. The rush of achievement you get after transforming your living space from dirty to clean is a definite dopamine-increaser, and now you’ve got a tidy space in which to relax.
12. Enjoy a Hobby
Another way to find your flow is to immerse yourself in a hobby. Pursuing a new or old hobby can remove you from the drug scene and introduce you to people with healthy shared interests. Mastering a skill such as photography or woodworking releases dopamine, and if your hobby involves physical activity you’ll get feel-good endorphins, too.
13. Stretch Your Intellect
Learning new information that interests you is another way to get high without drugs. Whether you delve into a podcast series on ancient Rome or decide to learn a new language, intellectual pursuits can be mentally rewarding and dopamine-increasing.
14. Try Something New
Positive effects are associated with trying new things. As reported by UW Medicine, doing something you’ve never done before — whether that’s sampling sushi or learning to roller-skate — can have an uplifting effect that fights depression and anxiety.
As the old saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine.” There’s truth to the statement as a hearty laugh provides a natural high by releasing feel-good chemicals. If you laugh with others, there’s a bonding effect, too. Also, Scientific American reports laughter can help you live longer.
Regaining Joy Through Clean Living
Drug addiction can damage your ability to feel joy, but you can break the chains of addiction and return to joy through clean living and natural highs. Restore Mental Health has addiction recovery and mental health programs to help you live your best life without substance abuse. Contact us today to learn more.