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Unleash Your Happiness Now: 10 ridiculously easy ways to boost Serotonin naturally

Jul 25, 2023

Serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter, is often called the "happy hormone" since it’s crucial for good mood, optimal digestion, and stable energy levels.

Low serotonin levels may lead to depression, anxiety, and aggression. While drugs are used in psychiatry to support serotonin levels and manage symptoms, recent research highlights natural methods for boosting serotonin production. By focusing on gut health, circadian rhythm, diet, and habits, you can support your serotonin levels naturally and enhance your well-being and overall happiness drug-free. This article explores various scientific strategies and lifestyle choices to achieve these benefits.



1. Exercise: release happy hormones and get a smile on your face immediately

Physical activity, especially low- and medium-intensity aerobic exercises like jogging, yoga, or brisk walking, triggers the release of serotonin1 2. Additionally, exercise increases the availability of tryptophan in the brain because it “clears out” other amino acids to muscles facilitating tryptophan transportation to the brain. So, whether it's a morning jog or a walk in the park, regular exercise can significantly help the balance of the serotonin system.

 

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2.Sunlight Serenity: Harness Nature's Power for a Better Mood

Sunlight exposure and time spent outside increase serotonin production in the brain. When sunlight enters the eyes, it stimulates brain processes that upregulate serotonin release. It’s shown that the brain's serotonin production rate depends on the time spent in sunlight. For example, studies show that brain serotonin production is higher during the bright summer than in the dark winter season3. Moreover, sunlight helps regulate the body's internal clock, positively affecting sleep patterns and mood.

To boost your serotonin levels for the day, expose your eyes to the sunlight after waking up for 5 – 15 minutes and at least 30 minutes during the daytime.



3. Massages: The Blissful Benefits of Touch and Relaxation

A relaxing massage can release serotonin and other feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins by up to 30 %4. Massage therapy reduces stress and enhances mood, making it an effective way to increase serotonin levels naturally.

Even a 20-minute massage twice a week performed by a significant other has been shown to lower anxiety and improve mood, and decrease stress-hormone cortisol by up to 25 %5

 

 

 

4. Probiotics: Are you taking care of your Gut-Brain Connection?

The gut-brain axis plays a crucial role in serotonin production. Healthy gut bacteria are needed to produce serotonin and help metabolize foods that provide serotonin precursors to the body. People who suffer from inflammatory gut conditions and have altered gut microbiome may also have lower production of serotonin6.

Consuming probiotic-rich foods foster a healthy gut microbiome, positively influencing serotonin levels. Incorporate foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut into your diet to support your serotonin system. Some people benefit from a probiotic supplement that contains healthy gut bacteria and can help to rebalance the gut microbiome after antibiotics, alcohol, a bad diet, or stress.

 

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5. Meditation: The Mindful Path to reducing your stress levels and Harnessing Happiness

Mindfulness practices, like meditation and relaxation practices, increase serotonin levels7. Already a single session can be effective8 It’s also shown that serotonin levels are higher in regular meditators, so practicing meditation daily can pay off in a calmer mind and better mental harmony9.

To start meditation, try Apps like Calm or Headspace, or search for guided meditations from YouTube. Good search terms include “5-minute morning meditation”, “mindfulness meditation,” or “meditation for stress relief.”

 

6. Friendships And Acts of Kindness: A Powerful path To Better Relationships And Life Purpose

Maintaining meaningful relationships and engaging in positive social interactions stimulate serotonin release10. Neuropsychiatrists from McGill University even believe that the action of antidepressant medicine is partially related to their ability to promote social cooperation and social interaction via serotonin11. Taking time to cultivate friendships and nurture social connections are also a key for managing stress, feeling supported, and even increasing lifespan and longevity12.

Cultivate positive social connections by regularly spending quality time with friends and family. Performing acts of kindness and helping others can also lead to increased serotonin and oxytocin levels and feel more connected and bonded with other people. For example, volunteer With a community garden group, give someone an unexpected compliment or give someone your seat in a crowded subway.

 

7. Aromatherapy: Oil Your Serotonin Engines with Aromatic Scents

Essential oils can boost good-mood neurotransmitters, like serotonin. The aromas from the essential oils travel to the brain through the olfactory channels, affecting neurotransmitter levels13. For example, lavender, lemon, and ylang-ylang affect the serotonin system and are shown to relieve stress and anxiety14. Inhaling these scents through aromatherapy can lift your mood and positively impact your mood.

 

8. Humor: Laugh Out Loud to Elevate Your Serotonin

Laughter is a positive sensation that triggers the release of serotonin and endorphins in the brain. It consequently makes you feel happier and more relaxed. Laughing also decreases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, indicating lowered stress state15

Laughter therapy, as a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, has even been integrated into the holistic treatment of mental health disorders, and practitioners might even prescribe regular laughter like a medicine. It’s shown to be a safe and effective non-pharmacological way to overcome stress and improve mental health and immunity16 17

Embrace humor in your daily life, whether through watching comedy shows, making jokes, or spending time with amusing friends. LOL 😀

 

9. Gratitude: Count Your Blessings to Ignite Joy Through Serotonin

Practicing gratitude and focusing on the positive aspects of life can lead to higher serotonin levels18. Additionally, a simple gratitude writing exercise can lead to a lasting neural sensitivity to gratitude, meaning that gratitude's positive effects can be maintained for several months 19. Cultivate regular gratitude practices like writing a gratitude journal in the evening, Expressing gratitude to a friend, or writing a gratitude letter to someone you care for, and you may find yourself experiencing increased well-being and contentment.

 

10. Tryptophan-Rich Foods: Get Your Serotonin Building Blocks

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that builds serotonin in the gut and the brain. It’s vital to get tryptophan from food for optimal serotonin production20. Foods like turkey, nuts, seeds, bananas, oats, and dairy products are rich sources of tryptophan.

A healthy gut microbiome, exercise, and sunlight exposure improve the bioavailability of tryptophan. Therefore, healthy lifestyle habits are needed to support the availability of dietary tryptophan in the gut and brain.

You can also consider supplemental L-tryptophan, which is most effective when taken with some carbohydrates and without other amino acids (or proteins), as this helps the transportation of the tryptophan to the brain21.

 

Conclusion

Serotonin, the "happy hormone," plays a vital role in our mood, well-being, and overall quality of life. While medications promise to enhance serotonin levels in clinical cases, various natural and enjoyable ways to boost serotonin production are also available and worth trying. They are safe and have several benefits, from improved fitness to longer lifespan and better relationships. 

 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Can low serotonin levels cause depression?
    Yes, low serotonin levels are associated with depression and mood disorders, but they’re not the only reason explaining depressive symptoms. However, enhancing serotonin production through natural methods may help improve mood and reduce the risk of depression.
  2. Are there any side effects to boosting serotonin naturally?
    Unlike some medications, natural ways to boost serotonin usually have no significant side effects. However, if you have any medical conditions or are taking medications, it's always best to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating new supplements into your diet.
  3. How long does it take to notice the effects of these serotonin-boosting practices?
    The time it takes to notice the effects can vary from person to person. Some people may experience positive changes on the same day, while others may take up to two weeks to notice significant improvements. Consistency is key.
  4. Are there any specific foods to avoid for better serotonin levels?
    Highly processed and sugary foods can lower serotonin levels. Choosing a balanced and nutritious diet that includes tryptophan-rich natural whole foods is the best approach.



references

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  2.   Basso, J. C., & Suzuki, W. (2017). The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review. 2(2), 127–152. https://doi.org/10.3233/bpl-160040
  3.   Lambert, G., Reid, C. M., Kaye, D. M., Jennings, G., & Esler. (2002). Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. 360(9348), 1840–1842. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(02)11737-5
  4.   Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., Schanberg, S. M., & Kuhn, C. M. (2005). CORTISOL DECREASES AND SEROTONIN AND DOPAMINE INCREASE FOLLOWING MASSAGE THERAPY. 115(10), 1397–1413. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207450590956459
  5.   Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., Schanberg, S. M., & Kuhn, C. M. (2005). CORTISOL DECREASES AND SEROTONIN AND DOPAMINE INCREASE FOLLOWING MASSAGE THERAPY. 115(10), 1397–1413. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207450590956459
  6.   Barandouzi, Z. A., Lee, J.-C., Del, M., Chen, J., Henderson, W. A., Starkweather, A., & Cong, X. (2022). Associations of neurotransmitters and the gut microbiome with emotional distress in mixed type of irritable bowel syndrome. 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-05756-0
  7.   Krishnakumar, D., Hamblin, M. R., & Lakshmanan, S. (2015). Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety- A Modern Scientific Perspective. 2(1), 13–13. https://doi.org/10.14259/as.v2i1.171
  8.   Krishnakumar, D., Hamblin, M. R., & Lakshmanan, S. (2015). Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety- A Modern Scientific Perspective. 2(1), 13–13. https://doi.org/10.14259/as.v2i1.171
  9.   Thambyrajah, J., HW Dilanthi, SM Handunnetti, & DWN Dissanayake. (2023). Serum melatonin and serotonin levels in long-term skilled meditators. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2023.03.006
  10.   Lauren, Chang, S., Jean-François Gariépy, & Platt, M. L. (2013). The neuroethology of friendship. 1316(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.12315
  11.   Young, S. N., Moskowitz, D. S., & Rot. (2014). Possible role of more positive social behaviour in the clinical effect of antidepressant drugs. 39(1), 60–65. https://doi.org/10.1503/jpn.130165
  12.   Yang Claire Yang, Boen, C., Gerken, K., Li, T., Schorpp, K. M., & Kathleen Mullan Harris. (2016). Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span. 113(3), 578–583. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1511085112
  13.   Xiao Nan Lv, Zhu Jun Liu, Huan Jing Zhang, & Chi Meng Tzeng. (2013). Aromatherapy and the Central Nerve System (CNS): Therapeutic Mechanism and its Associated Genes. 14(8), 872–879. https://doi.org/10.2174/1389450111314080007
  14.   Fung, T. K. H., Benson Wui-Man Lau, Shirley P.C. Ngai, & Hector. (2021). Therapeutic Effect and Mechanisms of Essential Oils in Mood Disorders: Interaction between the Nervous and Respiratory Systems. 22(9), 4844–4844. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22094844
  15.   Yim, J. (2016). Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. 239(3), 243–249. https://doi.org/10.1620/tjem.239.243
  16.   Yim, J. (2016). Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. 239(3), 243–249. https://doi.org/10.1620/tjem.239.243
  17.   Louie, D., Brook, K., & Elizabeth Pegg Frates. (2016). The Laughter Prescription. 10(4), 262–267. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827614550279
  18.   (2023, June 12). Positivepsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude/
  19.   Kini, P., Wong, J., McInnis, S., Gabana, N. T., & Brown, J. W. (2016). The effects of gratitude expression on neural activity. 128, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.12.040
  20.   Kałużna-Czaplińska, J., Gątarek, P., Chirumbolo, S., Max Stanley Chartrand, & Geir Bjørklund. (2017). How important is tryptophan in human health? 59(1), 72–88. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2017.1357534
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