If you have ever seen Legally Blonde, you probably know that endorphins make you happy. You may even have heard that dopamine and oxytocin have a big role to play in regulating your mood. But what about serotonin? You can’t forget about the last player in the happiness quartet!
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, is strongly linked to improved mood and higher overall satisfaction. In addition to helping to regulate your mood, it can also improve your motor skills and cognitive function. It helps with the nerve function that regulates heart rate and blood pressure, as well as your digestion. Basically, it’s a body superhero.
Of course, it is not the only thing that will lead to happiness, so it is important to pay attention to its other sisters. And if you are truly struggling with what feels like a serious mood condition, you should certainly seek professional help. But if you’re looking to boost this powerhouse neurotransmitter for better mood, digestion and cognitive function, we’ve got some fantastic, easy ways to do so.
Dream big. If you needed another reason to get better, more consistent sleep, here it is. Ensuring that you get restful sleep on a regular basis is important for ensuring your body can make and use serotonin effectively. Studies have shown that being chronically sleep-deprived actually affects serotonin receptors, inevitably making them insensitive or immune to the positive effects that serotonin has. Do a few stretches before bed and aim for seven to eight hours.
Get the D. Vitamin D, that is. Omega-3 fatty acids coupled with adequate levels of vitamin D in the body make it easier for the body to produce serotonin. Try and get some time in the sunshine every day (though we know that’s hard here in the Netherlands) and make sure to supplement with tablets or liquid drops.
Just eat it. It probably comes as no surprise to all you healthy eaters reading, but the food that you eat can either replenish or deplete the serotonin in your brain. Certain nutrient deficiencies in the body actually cause problems with replenishing serotonin, so eating well is as good for your brain as it is for your body. Food rich in vitamin B12, zinc, omega-3 fats, magnesium and iron will both reduce inflammation and boost brain health, and spinach, nuts and seeds (all high in tryptophan) actually increase serotonin in the brain. So you should definitely pop into TCPJ and pick up The Lightsaber and The Fix or hop on UberEats or Deliveroo to order The Sinner and an Almond Latte.
Break it down. As you might have expected, stress is one of the worst things for maintaining healthy serotonin levels, so it’s important to try and break stress down and reduce it. Stress is actually the cause of chronic inflammation for the brain and the body, which is not good at all, particularly for serotonin! Stress damages the neurons that produce serotonin as well as the serotoninic pathways in the brain, making everything work more poorly than it should. Though it can be tough to reduce stress, activities like exercise and meditation can do wonders for lowering levels and helping you keep your serotonin as high as possible.
So get out, get some sun, meditate, eat a nourishing and healthy meal and then get a good night’s sleep. You’ll feel happier in no time.