15 Ways to Increase the 'Feel Good' Chemical Serotonin
Everyone wants to feel good, and there are many ways to do that. One easy way is by increasing the amount of serotonin in your system. Serotonin is a hormone released by your brain that gives you feelings of happiness, well-being, peace and satisfaction with life. It also helps regulate sleep patterns and appetite levels.
Unfortunately, most people don't get enough naturally produced serotonin due to their stressful lifestyles. This guide lists 15 ways you can increase the amount of this chemical naturally through diet and other means.
1.Eat serotonin-rich foods.
Foods that increase serotonin levels include walnuts, bananas, avocados, and seeds of all kinds including pumpkin and sesame. Other foods that are thought to increase serotonin levels include eggs (especially the yolk), yogurt, dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or more content, oranges, fish like trout and salmon, turkey meat and lentils.
2. Take a nature walk.
Walking in nature is a great way to increase serotonin levels. It has been found that taking walks outside lightens your mood and makes you feel more awake than if you walk indoors on a treadmill or take an exercise class at the gym. The effect may be because exercising outdoors increases vitamin D production, which also boosts serotonin.
3. Loll at the beach.
Sunny weather and the ocean also increase serotonin levels, making you feel happier. This may be due to a combination of activities such as watching waves come in on the beach or listening to sounds of nature like birds singing. It could be something about being outdoors in general which triggers happiness chemicals in your brain, along with visual stimuli from sunlight and ocean waves.
4. Turn to technology.
Many people don't get to spend too much time in the sun, which can lead to winter blues and even weak bones due to the lack of vitamin D that the sun provides. Just a few minutes a day using a bright light therapy lamp can remedy this since the device mimics the sun's therapeutic rays.
5. Sip on green tea.
Green tea has been shown to increase serotonin levels and it may be due to the presence of L-theanine, a plant compound that is thought to help boost alpha brain waves for better relaxation and concentration.
6. Get a soothing massage.
Massages not only feel good, but they can also help increase serotonin levels. This is due to the release of oxytocin, which is known as the "cuddle hormone" and helps reduce stress levels.
7. Get a pet.
Pet owners experience lower blood pressure and stress levels, which may be due to the increase in serotonin that comes with caring for their animal companions. The benefits of owning pets have been known since ancient times when dogs were first domesticated thousands of years ago by nomadic tribes in Eurasia.
8. Enjoy a cup of coffee.
Coffee is another way to increase serotonin levels and feel happier, so go ahead and enjoy that morning cup before heading out the door for work! Just remember not to overdo it, as caffeine can also cause anxiety in some people. Also, avoid drinking too much if you're already feeling stressed since stress hormones such as cortisol may counteract the positive effects of serotonin.
9. Take supplements.
There are a few safe supplements on the market that can safely work to increase serotonin levels, such as tryptophan and SAM-e. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that your body needs to produce serotonin while SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine) is a natural compound found in all cells of the body that is involved in a variety of biochemical processes, including serotonin production.
A study by the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University shows that meditation has been found to increase serotonin levels and lower stress. The practice of meditation can help people feel more relaxed, calm, and happy—as well as be able to handle stressful situations better. It doesn't matter what type of meditation you choose (e.g., transcendental or Buddhist), but it's important that you make the time for it and find a method that works for you.
11. Laugh out loud.
Laughter is the best medicine, as the saying goes, and it's true! Laughter not only feels good, but it can also help increase serotonin levels. This is because laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which are hormones that have pain-relieving and mood-boosting effects.
12. Get plenty of sleep.
Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being, including serotonin production. Most adults need around eight hours of sleep per night, but it's important to listen to your body and find what works best for you.
13. Avoid overscheduling yourself.
Too much of a good thing can actually be bad, and this includes being overscheduled. If you're too busy with work responsibilities or have an endless to-do list at home, it's important to prioritize tasks for stress levels not to get out of hand and impact serotonin production negatively.
14. Go to a concert.
Listening to music is a great way to increase serotonin levels and have some fun too! Concerts are especially beneficial, as they allow people to be surrounded by sound and energy.
15. Try Acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for centuries to treat various health conditions. A study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that acupuncture was able to increase serotonin levels and improve moods in people with depression. If you're looking for an alternative way to increase serotonin, acupuncture may be worth considering.
There you have it—15 tried and true methods for raising serotonin levels. Try out some of these methods and see which ones work best for you to increase your serotonin levels and feel happier! As always, make sure you check with your doctor before trying any of the therapies on this list.
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