Any type of physical activity that causes pain, such as exercise and eating spicy foods, releases endorphins in the brain. Excitement, laughing, crying, or engaging in risky activities can trigger the release as well. The body also releases them while relaxing with a massage, dancing, or when falling in love.
Endorphins, also known as endogenous morphine, are an arrangement of amino acids known a opioid peptides. These chemicals function as neurotransmitters that help regulate moods, sleep patterns and the way one responds to pain and stress. When present in the body, endorphins act as a natural painkiller and are able to provide a sense of comfort, wellness and happiness.
As soon as the body senses pain or stress, it automatically releases these chemicals to help the mind and body better cope with the situation. Strenuous exercise that allows a person to continue beyond his or her normal limits of pain or fatigue is a common way to naturally stimulate the release. During exercise, the endorphins act as natural painkillers that numb the discomfort that normally would stop an individual from continuing with the exercise. This is often referred to as a "runner's high" because it allows the person to continue and reach a natural state of happiness and sense of accomplishment.
Going through an emotional or stressful stage in life can trigger the same mechanism. Therefore, crying, fear, anxiety, and other emotional pain can prompt the body to respond by increasing the production of endorphins. In a similar fashion, laughing, joking around, and just having fun also release these chemicals. Activities that relax the mind and body, such as acupuncture or getting a full body massage, a head massage or even just a shower massage, can help produce that blissful feeling. Swimming in a float tank is also said to be effective, because the individual is able to relax and meditate in a dark and soundproof saltwater tank.
The thrill of falling in love and any sexual activity naturally releases endorphins. Dancing to a slow and steady rhythm, or even just listening to one's favorite music, also aids in obtaining the feeling of happiness. Another type of activity that triggers endorphins is one that puts the individual into a risky state, such as skydiving or bungee jumping. Swimming with sharks, riding amusement park rides, or watching an intense sporting event can dramatically increase the endorphin levels in the brain, allowing one to achieve a natural high.