8 Ways to Raise Serotonin Levels Without Medication
Have you ever noticed a sudden change in your mood after a good workout? Or after listening to some music? You feel a sudden wave of happiness.
The scientific reason behind this is a little chemical called serotonin. Whenever you feel nice and life seems to be much happier, you face the effects of serotonin. Also known as the ‘happy chemical,’ it is responsible for boosting your mood and performs many other functions. Now, let us know more about this chemical.
A Little Bit about Serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which means that it’s a chemical used by the brain and the nervous system cells to communicate. Its hormonal functions include maintaining our general well-being and regulating appetite, sleep, learning, etc.
A balanced amount of this hormone will make you feel healthy and emotionally stable. Low levels of serotonin are often linked with depression and many other issues. It could give you mood fluctuations, irritability, difficulty sleeping, or even digestive problems. Too high serotonin levels can also prove to be dangerous. This is called serotonin syndrome, which could lead to hallucinations, restlessness, nausea, and insomnia. The critical thing to be noted is that overly high serotonin levels can only happen artificially through pills like antidepressants. So, unless you are taking too many depression medications, you do not need to worry about serotonin syndrome.
Knowing serotonin and how to trigger it will help you better control your mood and maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle.
How to Raise Serotonin Levels without Medication?
You can boost the amount of serotonin in your body in two ways- naturally or artificially. The artificial method includes consuming medications like SSRIs (used to manage depression and anxiety). However, these should only be an option in severe cases, that too under a doctor’s prescription because an overdose can have some life-threatening side effects. So, it would help if you always tried to stick to the natural ways of increasing serotonin that we will now discuss.
1. Get Some Exercise
Exercising is scientifically proven to be one of the most effective ways to boost serotonin. Incorporate any physical activity you enjoy- from walking to cycling to dancing into your daily routine. The best thing is that exercising gives the quickest results naturally. You feel considerably happier just after an hour of working out. This is because physical activity increases the abundance of tryptophan, which raises serotonin levels in the human brain. It also produces many other feel-good chemicals, such as dopamine and endorphins.
Another reason is because of the psychological influence. When you are working out, you know you are being productive and spending time on something beneficial for you. That automatically makes you feel good—exercise for 30 minutes, at least three times a week for best results. The benefits of exercising in general cannot be stressed enough. A better mood is just one of the countless perks you get.
2. Refine Your Diet
Your diet has a prominent influence on your body’s serotonin levels and, thus, your mood. This is because the food you are eating contains ingredients that may increase tryptophan or deplete it. The logic is simple- when your diet is vitamin and nutrient deficient, your body cannot produce enough happy chemicals.
Some foods that may be helpful include eggs, oats, cheese, nuts, seeds, pineapple, tomatoes, and kiwis. Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb, is a stress buster and serotonin booster. You may want to control your alcohol intake. Even though it’s well-known for temporarily enhancing your mood, it can deplete serotonin levels in the long run.
We can safely say that your diet does not only affect your body, but it affects your brain too.
3. Get Proper Sleep
Your sleep pattern influences your serotonin levels, and your serotonin levels affect your sleep pattern. Depression has been linked to either getting no sleep or sleeping too much. People who have sleep deprivation have to deal with a relatively down mood. Therefore, you must aim to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night.
4. Get Plenty of Vitamin D
Vitamin D influences our positive emotions and protects us from depression. Lack of Vitamin D has been linked to a lack of serotonin in the body. You can increase your Vitamin D intake by consuming Vitamin D-rich food, exposing yourself to sunshine, or directly taking supplements. Spending time outdoors exposes you to the sun. Sunny days always have been a symbol of joy and happiness. When it’s not sunny, it’s going to be a long, lazy, and gloomy day. Surrounding yourself with nature will give your mind peace and serenity, undoubtedly raising serotonin.
5. Perform Your Hobbies
Painting, gardening, cooking, knitting, cycling, or any hobby that you have will reward you with a happy mind. Doing activities that are not work will give you relaxation and a serotonin and dopamine boost. Keep a journal to reflect on all the good things happening in your life. So make sure that you take out some creative time for yourself daily!
6. Get a Nice Massage
We can all agree on the fact that massages are pretty relaxing. After a long day at work, sometimes a lovely massage is all you need. Massages not only boost the happy hormones but also lessen the stress ones. According to studies, a 60-minute massage increases serotonin levels by 28% and lowers cortisol, a stress hormone, by 30%. So, now you know that the post-massage euphoria is a real thing.
7. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture works by inserting thin needles into different pressure points of your body. The needles activate blood flow which further helps release endorphins. It is an excellent method to deal with stress and increase serotonin hormones like massage.
8. Listen to Some Music
Music is something nobody could hate. We all have different tastes in music which make us feel all kinds of other emotions. Listening to music activates your brain’s pleasure center, which releases serotonin and prolongs its effect. So, whenever you’re sad- earphones in, volume up, and ignore the world for a while.
Give the above ways a shot whenever you feel sad. Of course, these only work for mild issues. If you face big problems with your mood for a prolonged period, make sure to contact a mental health professional who can guide you further. Stay happy!