Serotonin is one of the important neurotransmitters that stabilise your mood, feelings and well-being. Here are 6 natural and easy ways to increase your serotonin levels without medication.
You must have definitely been thrown into the depth of sadness, at least once in a lifetime. It won’t be surprising if you argue to say that it has just not been once but several times when you felt like your life lacked meaning, and you were slipping into pessimism.
It’s quite usual to occasionally feel empty and dissatisfied with life. You must be pursuing your dream career, or earning a lump sum amount of money, but something, something doesn’t quite feel right about your life.
This is a very natural way to feel. Taking into consideration how our lifestyle has dramatically altered over the last 2 decades, we are more prone to mental illnesses. Not only because we are unaware and listless about our mental health(also our overall health) but also because we often ignore signs of a low mood, feelings of lack of purpose and also overall reduced energy. These could be a warning sign to your degrading mental health or simply a need for some change in lifestyle.
What Is Serotonin?
Our brain functions are coordinated by a number of chemical messengers which help transmit messages from one neuron to the other. It helps us in processing information. Serotonin is one of the important neurotransmitters, alongside other significant neurotransmitters like Acetylcholine, Oxytocin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, GABA and Glutamate. These are not all. Our bodies function is regulated by many other neurotransmitters. Serotonin is a crucial neurotransmitter that is linked to a number of functions like regulation of mood and social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire.
Serotonin’s key role is to maintain mood balance. Therefore it is found to have notable links with symptoms like low mood, loss of appetite and anhedonia in Depression. Even though it is not clear yet as to whether depression is the cause or effect of low levels of serotonin but it is found that an increase in serotonin levels in blood brings about noteworthy changes in one’s mood.
Drugs that help alter the level of serotonin is body does treat Depression, nausea, migraine, etc.
Related: 5 Ways to Ease Anxiety Naturally
What If You Are Low On Serotonin?
Low levels of serotonin can definitely put your body’s equilibrium off the stands.
Here are a few signs that you might be running on low levels of serotonin:
- Feelings of low mood
- Loss of appetite
- Craving for sweet foods and carbohydrate-rich foods
- Digestive problems and feelings of nausea
- Disturbances in sleep
Can We Naturally Increase Serotonin Levels?
Is it only medication through which you can increase the level of serotonin in your body?
Some people prefer natural remedies over medication. Natural remedies do take a longer span of time to work but with patience, you will enjoy their permanent results.
Here are some mind-blowing ways to naturally boost your serotonin levels:
1. Check your food intakes
The diet you follow is very crucial in determining if you are replenishing or depleting your serotonin level.
“Nutritional deficiencies can directly lead to problems with replenishing serotonin,” Dr. Lake says. Dr. Ramsey has said that the Mediterranean diet is especially beneficial for boosting happiness because omega-3 fats, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, and iron that not only maintain good health but is also helpful for brain health.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is converted to serotonin in your brain. Tryptophan is found primarily in protein-rich foods like turkey, quail, and salmon.
Tryptophan rich foods include:
- Pumpkin and Squash seeds
- Uncooked Oats and Bran
- dried dates
- cottage cheese
- red meat
- Fish like Halibut, Salmon, Rockfish & Trout, Snapper, Mackerel, Haddock and Cod.
- Poultry – Chicken and turkey
- Rabbit meat, beef, pork, lamb,
- Shellfish like Crab, Spiny Lobster, Octopus, Clams, Prawns, Lobster, Crayfish and oysters.
- Beans and lentils – cooked white beans
- Soya Foods like roasted soybeans
Having Tryptophan alone will not help it reach your brain to produce serotonin. Thanks to the blood-brain barrier. Research suggests that eating carbs alongside foods rich in tryptophan may help tryptophan to rich your brain.
Tasty foods to munch on for increasing serotonin naturally:
- whole-wheat bread with cheese or turkey
- Chicken salad with corn and beans
- pretzel sticks with peanut butter
- oatmeal with a handful of nuts and dried dates
- brown rice with salmon or Mackerel
- You favorite crackers with milk
2. Bask in the sun
Sunlight not only helps make vitamin D in our body but also helps to set the right amount of serotonin for the body, researchers say. The research also suggests that serotonin is at its lowest after the winter season but is comparatively higher in fall and summer. Researchers are suggesting that sunlight might help your skin synthesize serotonin. To curate the most out of this ability of your body:
- Spend a minimum of 15-20 minutes outdoors, especially in the morning sun as the rays are less harsh and more soothing in the morning.
- Exercise outside in open air and freshly lit areas.
- Let sunlight filter through windows inside your room instead of using artificial lighting.
3. Move your body
Exercising is definitely good for maintaining good health and also for increasing the absorption of Tryptophan into your blood.
It is also known to decrease the amount of other amino acids hence increasing the chances of it reaching your brain.
Aerobic exercises are the best ones to step up your heart rate. Any exercise which you feel comfortable with will work. Remember not to overstress your body while working out.
You can consider these following aerobic exercises:
- Brisk walking
- Stair climbers
- Aerobic dance like Zumba and
- Jumping jacks
- Weight training
Choose one of your favourite and practice it daily for a minimum of 30 minutes to instigate serotonin secretion. Try exercising outside if possible.
4. Be bed friendly
How many of us get a proper, sound sleep daily? I am afraid, a lot of us don’t. We are compromising our sleeping hours to do extra-work, spend time on social media, use gadgets, etc. We miss out on the most important tool to keep our overall body normally functioning.
One study on rats found that chronic sleep deprivation in rats could affect their brain’s serotonin receptors, making them not as sensitive to the positive effects of serotonin. (Though this study was conducted on rats hence are not completely conclusive about the effects on human beings, but this could give us a partial idea as to what effects serotonin’s effectiveness.)
A minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep at a stretch, daily, is crucial for all adults. Paying off sleep debt on weekends is not a good idea. Take a good sound sleep every night and wake up fresh and motivated.
5. Invest in massages
Isn’t it relaxing to have a massage done?
Even visualizing about getting a massage can have a positive impact on your mood, let alone actually getting one.
Massage helps release happiness hormones like serotonin and dopamine which are related to mood.
It also helps reduce the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in our blood which means it literally de-stresses you.
One study in 2004 based on 84 pregnant women with depression found out that women who received a minimum of 20 minutes of massage therapy from a partner 2 times a week said they experienced less anxiety and low mood and had higher serotonin levels after 16 weeks.
You could ask your family members, partner or friends, to give you a massage which you would return to them. You can even go for a relaxing overall body massage from a parlour thrice a week.
6. Turn the ohm sound on
In 2011, a paper published in the Archives of General Psychiatry studies the contrast in Mindfulness meditation to cognitive behavioral therapy in preventing depression. Instead of targeting dysfunctional thoughts(which is typical of cognitive behavioral therapy), mindfulness meditation helps individuals become aware of one’s unwanted thought instead of altering or working on them.
Mindful meditation is a surefire way to help your blood surging with a dose of serotonin. Daily meditation starting off with 10 minutes to gradually increase it to 30 minutes time is very helpful in realizing serotonin. You could enhance the effect of meditation by chanting ‘ohm’ alongside meditation. ‘Ohm’ sound playing in the background while you meditate is also a good way to introduce better
However, if you are diagnosed with clinical depression, you should consult your psychiatrist or therapist before inculcating mindful meditation or other cognitive relaxation techniques in your daily routine.
Bottomline To Happiness:
These were a few natural ways to increase serotonin if you notice slight changes in your mood and wish to lift it up for your well-being.
There might be chances that these natural remedies will not work similarly for everyone.If you observe no significant changes in your mood even after following these tips for a long span of time, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help.