The study of endorphins has told us this: Learning leads to happiness and happiness leads to learning. Endorphins are the body’s very own natural feel-good neurotransmitters!
A common belief is that we learn better when in a feel-good frame of mind.
Join us as we delve into this relationship. We’ll be investigating how to harness endorphins for a better learning experience. But first, let’s look at the science behind the body’s wonder chemical…
What is the Role of Endorphins Exactly?
Endorphins are neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that pass messages from one neuron to the next. They are produced in the pituitary gland and help alleviate pain. They also produce feelings of pleasure and general composure, in fact, they’re the chemical responsible for runners high!
This stunning clip shows an endorphin being carried along an active filament into the inner part of the brain’s parietal cortex. Even the process looks mood-boosting:
Endorphins act as a natural painkiller and help to enforce a sense of relaxation. Analysts at Research Schools International collaborated with students to study the link between contentment and academic accomplishment. They concluded that students with more positive feelings achieved overwhelmingly better grades. Learning aside, endorphins in the working environment are just as important. Did you know, employees are 12% more productive when they’re happy?
Releasing The Brain’s Goodies Before Learning
Endorphins are sometimes produced as a response to certain negative catalysts. These can include fear, pain and stress. But don’t worry. There are numerous other ways you can encourage your body to release endorphins. None of them requires standing on a rake or jumping out of a plane. Let’s have a look at a few of them now:
Ever heard of runner’s high? This is when your body releases a cocktail of endorphins and other awesome chemicals after you push yourself physically.
Don’t be fooled by the name. It’s not only reached by running. You can achieve this state of natural euphoria through cardiovascular exercise and most other exercise routines too.
Equally, consider working out in a class. Studies show that working out in a group helps to decrease stress by 26%. Further investigations demonstrated that working out in a group also improved mental health by 13%.
There was a study on volunteerism and hypertension by the Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. Those who volunteered for four hours a week were less likely to develop hypertension.
The MRI scans of people who donated time to charities were revealing. Generosity aroused their neurotransmitters. This released endorphins!
You could volunteer for a charity shop? You could do a sponsored sporting event? Paying the bill the next time you go for a meal will boost your endorphin levels! Your brain rewards kindness. Be good and reap the reward!
Listen to Music (Loudly!)
When you listen to music that you really love, the reward centre of the brain lights up. The same area reacts when you eat the food you love. This area is filled with opioid receptors, giving you the same feeling you get when endorphins are released.
Additionally, loud music can produce endorphins. Turn it up to 11! According to scientist Dr Neil Todd, the brain releases endorphins when we listen to low-frequency vibrations, such as 90dB and over.
What About Dopamine?
On a side note, analysts at McGill University have confirmed that music can produce another one of the brains happy chemicals; dopamine. Similarly, dopamine is a further transmitter that is released when you’re experiencing pleasure.
Good news! Chocolate, and especially dark chocolate, can release endorphins! Cocoa contains feel-good basics like phenethylamine, a biological admixture that gifts you with an endorphin lift. Eat chocolate before learning and you’ll hopefully understand everything!*
*Don’t only rely on chocolate. Study as well!
Eat Spicy Foods
Your brain releases endorphins when you eat notably spicy foods. As a matter of fact, your brain is tricked into thinking you’re in pain. Spicy foods include capsaicin; the fiery catalyst involved. Though please don’t eat the world’s hottest pepper before learning!
Additionally, you can also add ginseng, vanilla beans and Rhodiola to the list of endorphin boosters.
In the past, affirmations were considered as a slightly fruitless exercise. However, the stresses of modern day living have seen society consider the science of positivity in a more serious way.
The University of Pennsylvania used MRI technology to discover changes in blood flow. They found that self-affirmations activated the reward centre of the brain, producing endorphins.
Here are some handy affirmations to repeat before learning:
- Every day I learn something new and amazing.
- I improve my ability to retain information daily.
- I am a non-stop learning machine.
- Applying the facts I have learned is easy.
- My learning skills improve every day.
There are certain things you can do to prepare your mind for learning. Neuroscience tells us this. From cardio exercise to learning affirmations. The more endorphins produced in the pituitary gland, the more ready you’ll be to learn.
Once your body is bursting with these magical endorphins and the feeling of euphoria is in full flow, you’ll need a platform for your learning! Click here to try a demo of our award-winning Academy LMS.