Increasing serotonin naturally in the brain is important for a good level of mental and physical well-being.
The serotonin is one of the most important chemicals in the human brain. And is that among other functions, this neurotransmitter is responsible for regulating mood, control appetite and balance sexual desire.
How to Increase Serotonin Naturally
However, there are many factors that can alter the functioning of serotonin and decrease its presence in the brain regions.
When we have low levels of this substance, we notice quickly the direct effects of its absence, and the mood can diminish remarkably.
For this reason, it is important to always maintain high levels of serotonin in the brain. The more we have of this substance, the better we will feel.
10 Activities to Increase Serotonin Naturally
Like all endogenous substances, the production of serotonin is closely linked to the food we eat and the energy sources we use.
In this way, food plays a very important role in the production of this neurotransmitter, so to maintain high levels of this substance we must take care of what we eat.
First, we need to clarify some of the “myths” about serotonin production and food.
Surely you have read or heard that tryptophan is the precursor amino acid serotonin, so the more quantities of tryptophan are ingested the more will be the production of this substance.
This statement is false, since although tryptophan is an essential amino acid for the production of serotonin and we must consume foods rich in this substance to be able to produce the neurotransmitter properly, the relationship between both elements is not direct.
That is, the turkey, for example, is a very rich food in tryptophan but feeding us to eat turkey will not make serotonin levels and feelings of well-being increase automatically.
On the other hand, it is widespread that bananas contain serotonin, however, when eating these foods serotonin cannot directly access the brain by not crossing the blood-brain barrier, so bananas also do not increase serotonin levels automatically.
Thus, in order to increase the production of serotonin through food, other guidelines must be made beyond consuming foods rich in tryptophan. These are:
- a) Do not abuse simple carbohydrates
Foods such as rice, white bread, pasta or sweets are absorbed very quickly and produce very high peaks of various substances, which decay after a while.
Thus, these foods do not increase the production of serotonin and, above all, prevent it from being generated in a progressive and regular way.
- b) Ingest complex carbohydrates
Foods such as legumes, grain bread, brown rice or vegetables such as starch or turnips perform a process of absorption opposite to that of simple carbohydrates.
In this way, when we ingest them we can properly nourish our brains and increase the production of serotonin, among other substances.
- c) Avoid caffeine and energy drinks
Caffeine is a substance that directly inhibits the production of serotonin, so regular consumption can reduce the levels of this substance in the brain.
On the other hand, drinks with high amounts of sugar provide a rapid increase of energy but, after a while, it decreases.
- d) Eat healthy fats
Omega-3 fatty acids are substances that can be found in foods such as salmon, fish oil, nuts, seeds or linseed oil and are basic for the production of serotonin.
- e) Eat dark chocolate.
Black chocolate is a very rich food in resveratrol, a type of natural phenol that allows increasing both endorphins and serotonin levels.
2- Expose to the sun
Another of the direct sources that we can provide substances and nutrients that stimulate the production of serotonin is the sun.
In fact, multiple investigations have found positive correlations between serotonin synthesis and total exposure to hours of sunlight.
Also, some studies have shown that serotonin production is higher in summer than in winter, and people living in hot regions with long periods of sun have higher amounts of this substance than those living in cold regions and with less sunlight.
It is postulated that the relationship between serotonin and sunlight is made by melatonin, a substance that regulates sleep that increases, largely through sun exposure.
So avoiding dark spaces, sunbathing and exposing yourself during daylight hours can be an effective way to encourage serotonin production and combat certain depressive symptoms.
3- Rest properly
One of the basic elements that we must provide both our body and our mind so they can function properly is rest.
Sleep well allows us to avoid stressful states, recover energy and restore calm and normal functioning.
Thus, sleeping between 7 and 9 hours a day is very important in order to guarantee a good functioning of serotonin production.
Otherwise, our endogenous systems could deregulate and we would expose ourselves to reduce our levels of this substance.
4- Doing physical activity
Probably the most effective activity to increase the production of serotonin in a direct way is to perform physical activity.
In fact, multiple studies have shown how exercising the body brings benefits both to the physical functioning and to the psychological functioning of people.
The majority of psychological benefits that physical exercise has shown are based on the increased production of serotonin that we perform when we practice these activities.
Specifically, it has been shown how aerobic exercises are the ones that increase the production of serotonin in greater quantity.
However, it is important that the physical activity that is performed is appropriate to the capacity of each.
The exercise that increases the constant release of serotonin is the one with which the person feels comfortable doing it. Extreme activities or training have shown less effect on serotonin and psychological benefits.
So, if you want to increase the production of serotonin and feel better, it is imperative that you perform physical activity on a regular basis.
5- Performing Pleasant Activities
It is important to keep in mind that the relationship between serotonin and mood is bidirectional.
Thus, just as low levels of serotonin can induce depression, a low or calm state of mind can lower serotonin levels.
Thus, both to increase mood and the production of serotonin are important not to punish excessively our psychological state and give frequent joys.
In this sense, it is vital that we expose ourselves to situations that make us feel good and perform activities that are pleasurable.
By doing things that we like and that provide us well-being, we respond automatically through a series of brain mechanisms that make us feel gratifying emotions and feelings.
One of them is the production of serotonin, since as it has been proven, this substance provides pleasurable feelings and increases mood.
As we see, it is the activities themselves that make us feel good which can increase the production of the substance that allows us to feel good.
This fact forms a functioning of feedback in which the rewarding element can give us greater amounts of well-being.
For this reason, it is very important to spend time in us and spend some time each day to carry out those activities that we like.
6- Evaluate how you feel everything you do
Closely linked to the previous point appears the evaluation of how we feel each of the things we do.
And to be well and increase serotonin levels, not only must we perform highly pleasurable or rewarding activities.
In fact, there are multiple aspects and details in everyday life that can help us increase the production of serotonin and improve our mood.
Issues as simple as realizing that we feel better going to work in the bus than in the subway because we can see the outside and the sunlight can be an important element.
Also, note how we like to go to breakfast with a partner alone, who prefer to eat reading the newspaper, bathing instead of showering, or reading watching TV before going to bed are “little nonsense” that can change our day to-day, and can help us improve mood.
Also Read: The 5 Types of Happiness in Psychology
If we analyze it well, irrelevant or banal aspects may appear in a person’s life, but in reality they are not.
Many studies have shown how the production of serotonin is performed slowly and progressively, so the psychological state we have throughout the day and the gratification we provide constantly are key to increasing the levels of this substance.
7- Avoid stress
Stress is one of the factors that can affect both the production of serotonin and psychological well-being.
In this way, managing to eliminate the stress of the day to day is basic so that the operation of the serotonin does not deregulate.
Many studies have focused on examining the direct effects of stress and have shown how this can negatively affect both cognition and emotions and behavior.
Thus, in order to allow our brains to function properly and to properly produce serotonin, it is important that stress does not take over our lives and find moments in the day to day that provide us with tranquility, calmness and relaxation.
8- Give a massage
In the same sense as the previous point, giving a massage from time to time may constitute a very suitable tool to regulate the production of serotonin.
Different researches have made clear how massage therapy is a very good technique that allows lowering the stress hormone, cortical.
Also, certain studies have also shown how massaging the muscles of the body allow to increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine.
It is generally held that massage is one of the best techniques for achieving physical relaxation and promoting psychological relaxation.
In this way, the more relaxed we are, the easier it will be for us to produce serotonin and benefit from its psychological effects.
9- Practice relaxation exercises
Sometimes, in order to combat stress and achieve the necessary calm, it may be necessary to carry out more direct activities.
Thus, if you do not manage to eliminate stress through the two activities mentioned above, it would be convenient to practice and practice relaxation exercises.
As you can see, we are placing special emphasis on reducing stress as an important factor in increasing serotonin production.
As we have been emphasizing, avoiding stress will not allow you to increase serotonin levels directly, but it is a basic requirement for you to do so.
So, if you do many of the above activities but you do not manage to eliminate stress, you probably will not be able to increase serotonin levels or benefit from their effects.
When practicing relaxation you can opt for different modalities such as meditation, yoga or mindfulness exercises.
10- Spend time on yourself
Finally, everything discussed so far concludes that in order to increase serotonin levels you must invest time in yourself and your psychological well-being.
You must take care of your food and find moments to perform physical activity on a regular basis.
Also, it is important to spend part of the day doing activities that are pleasurable, that cause feelings of well-being, and that allow you to relax and avoid stress.