Do you wonder why you suddenly feel happier after working out or getting a relaxing massage? Maybe there’s a reason. These activities increase concentrations of serotonin, referred to as the “happy chemical” in your brain.
It is possible to boost your mood by naturally increasing serotonin levels. The following tips will help you increase serotonin levels and incorporate these practices into your daily life.
Do you know what serotonin is?
Brain cells and nerve cells use serotonin as a neurotransmitter to communicate with one another. It maintains our mood and general well-being, while also regulating functions of the brain like appetite, learning, sleep, memory, and cognition.
Low serotonin levels may increase your risk of depression. Serotonin levels can be increased naturally in the following ways:
Eat a healthier diet
Tryptophan is an amino acid essential for the production of serotonin. Since your body cannot produce tryptophan, you must consume it through your diet.
Foods that contain high levels of tryptophan in them can boost your serotonin levels. Tryptophan can be found in the following foods:
- Platter of eggs
- Tofu, soy sauce, and other soy products
- Chicken, turkey, and other poultry
- Leafy greens
- Pumpkin seeds and walnuts are good sources of seeds and nuts
Get some sunlight
It’s proven that spending a few minutes in the sunshine can boost serotonin levels: Bright light stimulates the body’s circadian rhythm, which promotes serotonin production.
Vitamin D is also produced when skin cells are exposed to ultraviolet B rays, which are converted into vitamin D when they are exposed to sunlight. A study found that increased sun exposure reduced depression symptoms in elderly women. Vitamin D is involved in the production and activation of serotonin. In most people, just 10–15 minutes of sun a day is sufficient to make adequate levels of vitamin D. Supplements are also available if this is not possible. In spite of wearing sunscreen, your body can still produce vitamin D, so make sure you use enough protection, particularly if your skin is pale or sensitive.
Adaptogenic herbs can help
Adaptogens are plant extracts that improve the body’s ability to react and respond to stresses, as well as maintain hormonal balance. They work by helping the body maintain homeostasis, the balance of internal, chemical, and physical systems within the body.
Early research suggests that some adaptogenic herbs may have antidepressant effects. Although more research is needed, there is some evidence that the following may reduce depression:
- Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea)
Similarly, to complementary alternative medicine, these herbs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is best to consult your healthcare provider before trying any alternative treatment.
Take a massage
Massage therapy can boost serotonin levels by an average of 28%, according to a 2005 review.
It is because your cortisol, the “fight-or-flight hormone,” or built-in alarm hormone, decreases when you are in danger, resulting in a lower level of alertness and rapid heart rate. In other words, massages keep you on high alert and with a rapid heart rate. By decreasing cortisol and increasing serotonin, massages help to calm you down and regulate your mood.
Activate Your Body
The benefits of exercise for mental health are well known. What benefits does it provide? Research suggests that physical activity boosts mood by releasing endorphins, as well as dopamine and serotonin, which are mood-boosting chemicals. People who exercise regularly seem to have a reduced risk of depression.16
For a serotonin boost, try these exercises:
- Aquatic sports
- Rope for jumping
It is possible to increase serotonin levels naturally by eating foods that boost serotonin, getting out in the sun or taking vitamin D supplements, exercising, and taking adaptogens.
In addition to synthetically increasing serotonin, antidepressants can also be used. Increasing serotonin can relieve depression symptoms and improve mood, but it isn’t all about getting as much serotonin as possible. Too much can also negatively impact your health. The key is finding the right balance.