Most people have felt feelings of emptiness at some point in their lives. These emotional “blue” feelings are never fun, and getting rid of them is always easier said than done. The key to this often lies in a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin. Many people fail to realize the major impact that serotonin has on our daily lives.
According to Montgomery Heart & Wellness and its Houston cardiologist, healthy serotonin could even prevent certain heart diseases and complications. Serotonin is linked to your mood, health, and cognitive function.
This makes it a very important piece of the health puzzle. Whether you’re looking for a way to combat a simple bad mood here and there, or an effective treatment for curbing depression, knowing how to boost your serotonin levels can get you one step closer to achieving your goals.
Change Your Diet
Certain foods can deplete or replenish the serotonin in your brain, and nutritional deficiencies have a major impact on your brain. There are certain vitamins and minerals known for improving brain health and boosting happiness.
These foods include salmon, spinach, nuts, and spinach. A Mediterranean diet is especially helpful for your serotonin goals, as fish are chock full of zinc, magnesium, omega 3s, and more. Check out this list of eight foods that boost serotonin naturally.
There are countless studies that demonstrate the positive effects of exercise on the mind and body. Simply put, exercise stimulates the release of serotonin, and regular exercise can have a positive impact on serotonin in the brain.
Not only is this a long-term natural way to improve your daily mood, but there are short term impacts, too. For instance, when you’re exercising, you naturally focus on your movements, your goals, and the task at hand, forcing other, more negative thoughts out of the mental picture.
Classes are also a great way to meet people and receive the added bonus of mental stimulation. It’s also important to recognize that exercise isn’t just about heading to a gym.
There are other types of exercise, too. Yoga, dancing, and swimming are all great ways to get your physical fitness in while enjoying a hobby and other associated benefits, too.
Yoga can improve your flexibility and inner peacefulness; dancing allows you to break a sweat and learn a skill you can be proud of; and swimming works out the majority of your bones and allows you to lose calories quicker.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
If you’ve ever felt the need to “get away,” you’re not alone. And chances are, nature played a role in your desire to escape the daily pressures and conundrums of life. There’s a reason for these: biologically, we have a natural, unparalleled connection to nature.
First and foremost, studies have shown that being in a natural environment allows you to center your mind and unplug. But even more, spending time in nature can lower the release of stress hormones and improve your blood pressure and sense of well-being.
A sufficient amount of sleep is a great way to help balance those lower serotonin levels. People who are depressed or stressed may find that they struggle to sleep. One of the reasons why serotonin is so closely linked to sleep is because it’s used to synthesize melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep and wake cycle.
Without enough serotonin, the body cannot produce the necessary amount of melatonin needed, and this is where sleep disorders come into play. A consistent night of sleep—anywhere between 7-8 hours—is best to maintain balance.
Up Your Vitamin D Intake
Many mental health conditions are linked to vitamin D deficiency. So what role does this vitamin play? The fact is, medical and psychological conditions are affected by a lack of this vitamin.
First and foremost, vitamin D is the only vitamin that is a hormone. It activates the genes in your body that help regulate your immune system and release neurotransmitters like serotonin that have an effect on your brain’s functions.
A decent number of cells contain vitamin D receptors located in the brain that are associated with depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a prime example of this. During dark winter months—especially in Nordic countries that don’t experience sunrise for weeks on end—people experience a major drop in vitamin D levels, which impacts serotonin levels in the brain results in depressive symptoms.
You can also get small doses of natural vitamin D from the sun. If you find yourself feeling down, prioritize walking outside during a sunny day, or take a trip to the beach to soak up some rays.