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Recovery /
Natural Highs

A recovering addict said it best: “We get high because it makes us feel better than when we are not.” This is why many of us have succumbed at some time or another to the siren call for mood-boosting substances.

Alcohol provides a false courage and a short-lived high followed by the opposite emotions when you’re hung over. Drugs give you an artificial high followed by the extreme opposite when you’re coming down. Coffee gives you a short rush of energy followed by just the opposite feeling. Sweets give you a jolt of pleasure followed by just the opposite as your body crashes from all the sugar. None of these substances provides a high that you can rely on. And the damage they can cause to your body, psyche, and productivity greatly outweighs the short high not to mention the amount of wasted time in recovery (hangover) afterwards

It’s important to acknowledge, that our never-ending quest of pleasure and escape is an indelible part of our nature. But that said, our walks on the wild side should not cause us shame or self-loathing. There are far healthier choices we can make to achieve the same results we’re usually seeking when we turn to drugs and alcohol to unwind, have fun, or relieve pain.

Avoiding mood-altering chemicals does not mean we are doomed to a life of mirthless deprivation. I’m pleased to report that natural highs are not only abundantly available but better, stronger, cheaper, and longer lasting than the ones we get from alcohol or drugs:


Just as exercise itself can spur a euphoric state, exercising with others may offer a different and arguably better high. One study found that rowers’ pain thresholds were greater after training as a team than after working out alone. Since pain sensitivity is a marker of endorphin release, the group workouts produced more of a high.


When you do something that you are afraid of a natural high follows. The more courageous and bold the action the greater the high. In other words, the more afraid you are of something the greater the natural high after you have faced it.



It’s also been shown that being generous; with your friends by treating them to lunch or by donating time or money to a favorite organisation, makes people happier than spending money on material things. It seems that’s because the former produces joy in real-time but also memories that last much longer than whatever satisfaction that will come from a new pair of jeans (that may or may not fit once you start exercising more).


Fruits known for fighting depression include papaya, bananas, strawberries, mangos, pineapple, grapefruit, guava, apricots, peaches, apples, and dates.


Showing gratitude is also a mood-booster, possibly because once you stop to recognise how someone has helped you, you feel happier because you will remember and appreciate it for longer.


We’ve all heard music that has left us with goose bumps and chills. We’re utterly struck by it, held by it, entranced and touched in such a deep way that we feel moved physically and spiritually.


Laughter’s a funny thing. It’s contagious. The very act of producing the muscular contractions responsible for laughter release beta-endorphines. And there’s nothing like a belly laugh. The weirdest part of all is that it has a mind of its own and cannot be tamed. If something is really, truly funny, you’re going to laugh and there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Natural highs are the only true highs. They are self-created from within. They are lasting, pure, and they give you greater mental ability, emotional strength, and energy. Alcohol, drugs, sugar, and coffee gradually take these things away.