Who Knew?

Jamie McFarlin

Not long ago, I was browsing the BBC and I came across an article on the effects that chocolate has on the body. Aside from calories, dark chocolate – chocolate high in percentage of cocoa – has a lot to offer the body.
One of the most notable aspects of chocolate is its ability to alter the mood of a person through endorphins (“morphine within”). Chocolate makes you happy.
Seventh week has the tendency to sneak up on unprepared students. With no time to recover from midterms and finals quickly approaching, often around this time of the term comes an elevated level of stress and despondency.
My experience has been that the strain of seventh week nearly overwhelms the good feelings induced by the emergence of spring and the anticipation of summer. Unlike the winter term, however, constant sunshine and decent temperatures combat anxiety in the spring. The sunshine received along the walk to class allows the body to synthesize Vitamin D and triggers the production of endorphins in the body.
Put simply, endorphins are a group of chemicals naturally occurring in the body. They occur in the brain and act as an analgesic. They also generate a sense of happiness. While most of us appreciate the springtime highs that endorphins can provide, there are other sources for those who might happen to hate sunshine.
“Runner’s high” is a feeling familiar to most athletes. During long, strenuous workouts, endorphins are released after an athlete reaches a certain level of intensity and can produce a sense of pervasive happiness while diminishing pain levels. Activities such as distance running, swimming, bicycling, rowing and weight-training are great for elevating the endorphin level in your body. Like exercise, sex also causes an endorphin rush in the body.
Chocolate may be the most popular good mood food, but there are other foods that boost endorphins as well. Chili peppers make the body believe the mouth is burning and the body responds to the pain with a natural painkiller – endorphins. Interestingly, the same chemical found in chilies, Capsaicin, is suggested for PMS relief. (I recommend taking your date to Senior Tequila’s.)
For an activity less time-consuming or involved as eating chocolate or having sex, try laughing. Laughing, or even simply just the act of smiling, releases endorphins into your body, contributing to a feel-good mood.
Hopefully seventh week does not have you in a rut. However, if you feel blue, try visiting this website for some terrible jokes: http://www.rinkworks.com/jokes/. Smile a bit, go for a run and treat yourself to some chocolate.