Seeking a Natural High

Natural HighBy Linnay Harmer, Prevention Specialist –

I have a teenager in my life and I would like to encourage them to make healthy decisions this summer, do you have any suggestions?

There is a lot of conversation in the media and in our communities about teens and drug use. There are many ways to encourage teens to stay substance free. But, what else can they do to still get a high on life? I have a few suggestions that they might not have thought about.

Check out this great video on natural highs by Grammy Award winning band, Switchfoot…

“For me, it’s not a matter of saying no to drugs. It’s a matter of saying yes to all the alternatives.”

Seeking a natural high can be a great way for youth to achieve happiness on a daily basic. So, what is a natural high? A natural high comes from any activity that make you feel happy and fulfilled – without using drugs or alcohol.

Have you ever heard of a runners high? During exercise, our brain releases its own kind of opiates that are called endorphins. Those endorphins make us feel naturally happy and fulfilled. There are many other things that can help us achieve this same effect without using drugs or alcohol.

Cooking and eating food that we enjoy creates a natural high in our brains too! Spending time with our friends and family while doing so makes it even better.

Get your teens in the kitchen! Being involved in the cooking process really helps teens to understand all of the components to this process. Encourage them to help with meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. They will gain a valuable lifetime skill and feel good about helping with something where they can see the end result. So, cook and enjoy food that you really enjoy.

This leads me to my next natural high- helping others. When we help others in our own home or in the community we feel energized by the natural high that results. Encourage your youth to get out in the community and help someone else. It could be mowing the lawn for a neighbor or volunteering at a local non-profit. No matter what they choose, I guarantee your youth will feel good about this experience.

Have I mentioned that laughter is the best medicine?  Sometimes we forget just how important it is to include laughter in your daily life. And don’t forget to make others laugh! It not only puts you in a good mood but it could also be physically beneficial. Laughter reduces the stress response. When you laugh there’s a contraction of muscles, which increases blood flow and oxygenation. This action stimulates the heart and lungs and triggers the release of endorphins that help you to feel more relaxed both physically and emotionally.

Laughter also builds resiliency. Resilience is the ability to see failure as natural progression to success rather than as a negative outcome. People who are resilient are happier and more successful. The ability to acknowledge mistakes without becoming angry or frustrated plays an important role in developing resilience. Laughing at mistakes allows us to recognize that making errors is a part of being human.

Whether you’re encouraging your youth to volunteer, cook, take up a sport, or just laughing at the dinner table, all of these thing will help to keep your youth motivated during the summer months to continue to seek “natural highs” and have good self-confidence to say no to other mind altering substances.

Need more help? Call Cortland Prevention Resources at (607) 756-8970.