22 Ways to Increase Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is the "feel-good" chemical with a variety of functions in the human body. While dopamine releases the happy hormone, serotonin stabilizes the mood. The two can go hand in hand. Serotonin, sometimes considered a hormone, is a neurotransmitter the body uses to send messages between nerve cells. Serotonin plays a role in our mood, sleep, emotions, appetite, and digestion. People with low levels of serotonin (also known as a serotonin deficiency), find themselves feeling tired, irritable, and unable to function properly. To help combat this, we've compiled a few methods on how to get more serotonin including foods high in serotonin, exercise and serotonin, sunlight, and more. All are ways to increase serotonin naturally and safely.
#1. Spend Time in Nature
Stepping outside into nature can lower stress and enhance our mood. Enjoying the natural beauty of the world can help with overall serotonin production. Source.
#2. Get Serotonin from the Sun, Even on Cloudy Days
Bask in the sun rays as vitamin D from the sun allows our body to convert tryptophan into serotonin. The brighter the sun, the higher the serotonin production. Vitamin D and serotonin go hand-in-hand. Even on days where the sun hides behind the cloud, any natural bright light will allow you to improve your overall mood and stabilize serotonin. Sunlight is perhaps one of the most beneficial natural sources of serotonin. Source.
#3. Add Vitamin D Supplements to Your Regimen
Although we recommend getting vitamin D from the sun, those cold winter months might be challenging. Vitamin D supplements are a great alternative, as they can also promote serotonin production. Natural serotonin supplements, like vitamin D, can make a significant difference in your overall health and wellness. Source.
#4. Get a Massage
Enjoy a massage because a massage is not only good for relieving stress, but it can raise serotonin levels by as much as 30%. Source.
#5. Exercise to Boost Serotonin Levels
Get up and move and enjoy light exercises such as yoga, walking, running, and aerobics. These are great ways to increase your serotonin levels. The effects of exercising last hours longer after your workout session. Source.
Meditation has been studied to relieve stress and enhance mood, thus increasing your serotonin levels. Meditation is a simple way to boost serotonin levels, and only needs 10 minutes per day to be effective. Source.
#7. Listen to Music
It is believed that listening to music may increase serotonin. In a lab study with rats, listening to Mozart released more serotonin in the brain. Source.
#8. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture studied in a clinical trial showed that women who suffered fibromyalgia had increased serotonin levels in the serum compared to placebo. Source.
#9. Focus on the Positive
Focusing on positive memories, also known as mood induction, allows us to not think of adverse events, but it can also increase serotonin production. Source.
#10. Practice Gratitude
The emotion of gratitude affects the brain's reward system, according to studies. Being grateful releases dopamine and serotonin. It also has been linked to increased happiness. Source.
#11. Try the "Three Blessings Exercise"
Three Blessings Exercise – a studied practice where you write down three things you are thankful for every night for one week. This practice has been shown to improve overall happiness for up to 6 months! Source.
#12. Set Goals and Achieve Them
When we achieve our goals, we become happy. It can send a rush of dopamine, and then we want to reach the next goal. The larger goal, the higher the amount of dopamine. However, smaller goals can be more manageable to achieve and still release dopamine. Source.
#13. Talk to a Therapist
Therapy can be a great way to increase serotonin. It can change your mood and help you cope with stress, depression, and anxiety. Specific treatments might help increase serotonin receptors as well. Source.
#14. Experience New Things
Trying a new experience is a great way to increase serotonin, such as cooking a new recipe or trying a new hobby. The rule of thumb is, the less familiar you are with the activity, the more likely your brain will release dopamine. Source.
#15. Try Turmeric
Turmeric isn't just a spice in our pantries. It can also be used as an antidepressant and increase overall serotonin levels in the brain. Source.
#16. Eat Tryptophan-rich Foods
Tryptophan-rich foods increase the synthesis of serotonin in the brain. Such foods as milk, chicken, eggs, tofu, nuts, red meat can increase your tryptophan intake. Source.
#17. Eat More Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates such as oats, whole grains, barley, buckwheat, yams, and sweet potatoes can also boost serotonin levels. Source.
#18. Add More Vitamin B6 and B12 to Your Diet
Foods rich in Vitamin B6 and B12, such as whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, and avocados, naturally produce serotonin. Source.
#19. Try These Serotonin Vitamins
Vitamin supplements such as B6 and B12 also produce serotonin in the body. They're a simple and effective method for increasing your serotonin levels if foods high in serotonin are not preferred. Source.
#20. Limit Caffeine, Alcohol, and Sugar Intake
These substances have similar effects in temporarily increasing energy and then cause sudden drops of serotonin levels in the brain once the effects wear off. Source.
#21. Focus on a Good Night's Sleep
Sleep is known to counteract stress. Enjoy a restful sleep allows the body to produce serotonin and keep the cortisol production low. Source.
#22. Try Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy with essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, and lemon can have therapeutic effects. Using your sense of smell can prompt your brain to release dopamine and serotonin. Note: Do not let young children play with essential oils and always follow instructions on the bottle. Source.
It's well known that serotonin is an essential piece to leading a healthy and fulfilling life. These natural ways to increase serotonin levels can make a significant difference in increasing energy levels, sleep quality, and overall wellness. Which natural way to boost serotonin did you like the best? Did we miss a tip? Leave your comment below and let us know!
About the Author
Bianca Araujo-Mendez is the Director of Brand & Shopper Marketing at Compass Health Brands. She enjoys all things marketing and appreciates knowing the lives of others are enriched when using products from Compass Health Brands.
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