Serotonin is an important brain chemical that helps to improve mood and stops feelings of depression and anxiety.
This is a molecule of willpower and its deficiency can lead to the inability to create and take actions for which a person feels depressed, easily upset or fail to control their impulses.
Some of the symptoms of lack of serotonin include depression, frequent need for naps, low self-esteem, obsession with trivia, irritability, shyness and panic attacks. There is also the likelihood that such persons have sleep problems because they do not have sufficient amounts of serotonin, which will be converted into melatonin, a substance that drives and enables a peaceful and restful sleep.
These symptoms can range from mild to very severe and they are usually treated with pharmaceutical drugs.
But there are natural ways to help yourself, and even prevent the need for treatment.
1. Spend some more time in the sunlight
Sunlight is the first factor and one of the most important helpers in maintaining serotonin levels in the body. It has three advantages over other forms of light. Sunlight has ultraviolet (UV) light and it is much lighter than the artificial light. Too much UV light can cause skin cancer, so many people avoid sunlight, but a certain amount of sunshine is necessary for general health.
UV light is important because it produces vitamin D, which, among other things, stimulates the production of serotonin.
2. Massage heals
Several studies have shown that massage can be very useful in raising the level of serotonin. One of them studied the effect of massage on the depressed pregnant women as a serious condition because the mother’s depression can affect baby’s activity of various neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Pregnant women are massaged twice a week over a period of four months. Their serotonin levels increased by 30%.
3. Move your body
Studies have shown that exercise increases the production of serotonin and its release. Especially useful are the aerobic exercises, such as running and cycling. Yoga is one of the activities which is greatly beneficial. It is interesting to note that if you exercise too much or you are forced to do the exercises, the neurochemical effect will not be the same. The reason probably lies in our ancient instincts.
There is a difference in how you run because you chase something or how you run when something is chasing you. When it comes to exercise, people often avoid it because they do not feel the will. This is caused by administration of low activity of serotonin.
4. Food can make us happy
The food is certainly one of the factors, but there are many myths associated with diet and serotonin. For example, it is believed that all foods rich in tryptophan automatically raise the level of serotonin, but this is wrong. A large amount of turkey meat will not automatically increase the serotonin level. Banana will do it because it contains serotonin, which cannot cross the brain-blood barrier.
Complex carbohydrates are those that are absorbed into the body more slowly than simple, and they include legumes (such as peas and lentils), wholegrain bread and pasta, brown rice and starchy vegetables. These carbohydrates will be helpful. Simple carbohydrates such as white bread and rice, “normal” pasta, cakes, candies and other products of refined sugar are not your friends. Dark chocolate raises serotonin levels and it’s a great choice for a dessert.
5. Avoid caffeine
Caffeine reduces serotonin levels which probably explains why it suppresses hunger. Energy drinks contain large amounts of sugar that the body quickly processes but later leaves us feeling empty and tired.
Sufficient dose of omega-3 fatty acids will help because they affect the efficiency of serotonin in the brain. People with low levels of serotonin usually have low DHA, which is the acid that is part of the basic structure of the brain. It must be supplemented with food that is rich in omega-3 acids, such as fish, especially salmon, fish oils, nuts, seeds and oils obtained from them, particularly flaxseed.
7. Positive thinking
Finally, do not forget positive thoughts and memories of happy events. For people who have low levels of serotonin, this step may be the most challenging, but also participates in increasing serotonin and in the area of the brain behind the prefrontal cortex, which controls attention. Remembering the events that were happy also has a double effect: serotonin levels directly increase and prevent reflection of negative events. A great help can be the conversations with old friends, photos or reading a diary.
If you focus on it and change your lifestyle, serotonin levels will definitely increase. And, in any case, sunlight, healthy food, massages and other mention details will be useful for your general well-being.