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Increase Serotonin Naturally in 5 Easy Ways
Serotonin is one of those neurotransmitters that help regulate mental and emotional processes. Among its important functions in the human body include the stabilization of the mood, good restful sleep, and better mental clarity and focus. No wonder it is often colloquially referred to by health gurus and doctors as simply the “happiness hormone.” That is why when there are low levels of this neurochemical in the body, we suffer from the opposite of the aforementioned positive states: we feel depressed, we couldn’t sleep well, we tend to get either fat or bulimic. Incidentally, there are many supposedly “ordinary” things we do everyday that tend to go against the body’s natural ability to produce serotonin: when we drink caffeine, alcohol or some artificial sweeteners, or when we are under so much stress, our serotonin drops below normal levels.
So the next logical question is: how do you increase serotonin naturally? The following tips will be helpful.
1. Eat the right food
The brain manufactures serotonin, but not out of thin air—rather, it needs certain ingredients in producing this hormone. And the only nutrient that the brain uses in producing serotonin is the substance called tryptophan. Fortunately, you don’t have to buy any special supplement of tryptophan as long as you eat enough of certain tryptophan-rich foods, such as red meats, milk, chicken and turkey, tofu, nuts, cottage cheese and eggs. Other vitamins and nutrients used in serotonin production include vitamins B6 and B12, and again, there are many common foods rich in these nutrients, such as bananas, avocados, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, certain nuts, and legumes.
2. The more you move, the better your mood
Exercise seems to crop up each time we talk about some health tips, and for good reasons: working out, even at mild, aerobic levels, is good for the body. In fact, exercise stimulates the production of many important hormones, including serotonin, and even a few minutes of mild work out each day (15 to 30 minutes are considered as optimal durations) can effectively make you feel happier and calmer.
3. Sleep is not only for beauty, but also for health
Like most other things in life, quality is also important when it comes to sleep. You don’t need “more” sleep, only enough but restful. Foregoing sleep is damaging in many ways, that’s why if you can’t get enough sleep during the night, compensate by having a midday nap that should not exceed an hour.
4. Get plenty of massages
Getting a massage from a highly trained masseuse is not only a very pleasant experience, but it is also something that has been proven by certain studies to help increase serotonin naturally. Not only that, but massages are also known to decrease the levels of the stress hormone called cortisol. As you see, the effect is twofold: increasing the good hormone, while suppressing the bad one. Such behind-the-scenes internal work of this hormone is responsible why we feel euphoric right after a massage session so much that we feel like hitting the sack and sleeping the whole day off. To keep your serotonin levels optimal, integrate massages in your weekly schedule—a once- or twice-a-week appointment with a local masseuse could be a good investment for your health, and it feels good, too.
Meditation is simply about sitting down and mentally focusing on your breathing—deep, slow breathing. There are many methods of meditation, but they are all essentially the same: to still your mind and tap the power of your subconscious to help heal yourself. This is not some useless mumbo-jumbo—in fact, research studies have shown that meditation can effectively increase serotonin naturally. As if that’s not enough, regular meditation is also known to increase the body’s levels of other important mood-enhancing neurochemicals, such as DHEA, GABA, endorphins and melatonin. It is safe, easy to do, and its positive effects can be immediately felt.