Not that it’s a good thing.
It’s what we’re all missing during this sheltering in place/self-isolation time. With the lack of human contact—and additionally in my case, contact with the horses—the production of endogenous opiates is way down, if not gone. I’m trying to get topped up on negative ions from being by the sea, but dang… it is not enough.
I’m spending a lot of time scrolling through my photos, and it think this one anchors the idea best. As I mention in the excerpt below, it’s the lack of the activity that keeps us carrying on doing the thing itself, and since I don’t have the opportunity, I’ll have to trigger myself.
Here’s an excerpt from Many Brave Fools:
Athletic activities produce endorphins, those endogenous opiates responsible for such states as “runner’s high.” There you are, stimulating yourself through exertive movement, and your hypothalamus, the link between your nervous system and your pituitary gland, starts putting out the call for endorphins in order to trick your body into feeling no pain. When the endorphins latch onto the opiate receptors designed just for them, the result is that exhilarated feeling that you can only get from exercise.
Oh, and from falling in love.
Endorphins are involved in keeping long-term relationships going strong: they’re produced during sex and create that delicious glow that accompanies the post-coital wallow… There’s also adrenaline, and dopamine, and serotonin; all sorts of chemicals get shaken and stirred in our bodies when we’re preparing that cocktail d’amour.
The thing about this endorphin business, however, is that the yearning actually comes after the experience. Or, in sporty terms, when we stop the aerobic exercise, it is our anaerobic state that produces the endogenous opiates. So the thing that keeps us carrying on isn’t actually the thing itself, but the lack of the thing. When I am on the horse, my attention is on the horse; it’s only afterward that I receive the full mental and physical, and yes, emotional benefit of the experience. If I think about riding during the days I’m not doing it, it’s because I can’t wait to get back that feeling of being on the horse…