In recent years you’ve probably heard a lot about something called serotonin. What is serotonin exactly? In short, serotonin is a chemical messenger that is believed to be a mood stabilizer. In fact, serotonin has an impact on every part of your body from sleeping to eating and digestion; it also helps reduce depression, regulates anxiety, maintains bone health, and heal wounds. So yeah, serotonin is a pretty big deal.
There is also such a thing known as serotonin deficiency. If you’re experiencing deficiency, symptoms will include depression, chronic pain, anxiety, memory or learning issues, and changes in sleep, among others. If you fear that you could be lacking serotonin or are on track to be deficient, lucky for you there are ways we can increase the serotonin in our systems, and these ways have science on their side, so let’s get started.
Oh, come on, you have to remember this classic line from Legally Blonde: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!” Elle Woods was right about so much in that film, and the fact that exercise makes you happy is one of them.
Sunlight and Vitamin D
Getting outside is a natural mood booster, so best-case scenario, get outside and go for a walk, take some deep breaths, sit in the sunshine for a while. If you aren’t able to do this every day, but find it helps, you can always opt to make taking some Vitamin D part of your everyday vitamin regimen.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude affects the brain’s reward system, and has been linked directly to happiness; a great way to increase serotonin levels this way is to keep a gratitude journal. Your journal can be as in-depth or as simple as you want it to be; in fact, simply considering three things you’re grateful for at the end of every day could have a significant impact on your overall mood.
We could probably write a book on all the reasons we’re pro-therapy. Research shows us that therapy typically increases a person’s mood, which tends to increase serotonin.
Careful with the Coffee
Sure, coffee makes everybody happy, but caffeine withdrawals have been proven to drain your serotonin levels. If you start to notice changes in your mood, start monitoring your caffeine intake, and decrease it as you need to.
Listen to Music
We know that music can evoke a number of emotions as we’re listening, but it can also boost our serotonin levels. The music that you enjoy most activates the pleasure portion of your brain, releasing serotonin and keeping it around longer than usual. And we’re all about that.