You have for certain asked yourself by now what is the formula of happiness. Even if it sounds very romantic, our emotions can be translated by chemical processes in the brain. Serotonin, also known as the “hormone of happiness”, influences our mood directly, our sleep as well as lots of other vital functions of our organism. Find out below how to increase serotonin levels naturally!
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Mental Health & Mood, Closely Related to Serotonin Levels
Serotonin isn`t in vain called the hormone of happiness. The increased level of this substance implies a joyful state and the ability of overcoming the stress produced by the daily routine. At the opposite end, a decreased level of serotonin may trigger depressions and other mental illnesses in time, such as: social anxiety, anorexia, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, bulimia or bipolar disorder. A person with a reduced amount of serotonin in the organism will have difficulties in sleeping and will slowly lose the ability to focus.
Men & Women
Research from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have shown that women have slightly lower serotonin levels than men, but the difference isn`t very obvious. Still, it seems there`s a big difference between how men react to reducing levels of serotonin (that`s why women are more frequently affected by depression than men). By applying to a method known as “tryptophan depletion” which reduces serotonin levels in the brain, men are becoming impulsive (ADHD, impulsive type disorders, alcoholism), but not really depressed; however, women experience a decrease in their state of mood as well as a more pronounced emotional response (irritability and anxiety). As a main conclusion, scientists believe that women and men use this hormone in a different manner and that female hormones may interact with serotonin to cause signs observed after birth or in menopause.
This Hormone Influence Romantic Relationships
A recent research at Oxford shows that this hormone influences the way we perceive intimacy and romance. The people who took part to this research were split in 2 groups, and in one of the groups the level of serotonin of them was increased with the help of a drink based on tryptophan. After that, researchers showed pictures to the participants to the study with various couples, being asked to interpret the images. The ones with an increased level of serotonin have categorized the couples as being intimate and romantic, unlike the ones who had a normal level of serotonin in their body. This discovery shows that our relationships with other people are often influences by chemical processes that we cannot control or we can only control up to a certain point.
Serotonin Regulates the Gastrointestinal System
According to a research performed at a University in Bristol, 90% from the total amount of this hormone reaches the gastrointestinal system, helping its good function. Found in enterochromaffin cells that cover the stomach and intestines, our hormone is released when we eat and influences the contractions that push the food into the digestive tube. Thus, if it doesn`t exist in enough amounts, it may cause a frequent and quite unpleasant illness: irritable bowel syndrome.
How To Increase Serotonin Levels Naturally?
Happiness doesn`t have a fixed recipe, but there`s no one stopping you from giving it a little boost. Here are a few ways you may increase the serotonin amount in the organism.
1. Stay in the Sun
Ultraviolet rays have a bad reputation as they are associated with skin cancer. Still, by exposing to them in a reasonably fashion, vitamin D is produced, which has lots of positive effects in the organism, including serotonin production or calcium fixation. – Read more!
The intensity of the light you`re exposed also has a vital role in producing this hormone. This explains depression during winter seasons when the brightness is reduces as well. If you have the impression that the light in your office may be strong, you are definitely wrong – the rays of the sun are 100 times more intense!
2. Practice Massage
Massage makes you happy and feel more relaxed – this isn`t something new. Now you also have the scientific explanation on your side to convince your partner to spoil you with a massage. There are a few studies that shown the positive effects of massage on the level of serotonin. One of them has been performed by a group of pregnant women who suffered by depression. They received 2 massages per week from their partners for 4 months, and the amount of serotonin has increased by 30%. The same experiment has been attempted on newborns from depressive mothers, who received 15 minutes of massage 2 times per week for 6 weeks. The result has been encouraging – the level of serotonin was increased by 34%.
3. Practice Physical Activities
Maybe you heard before about the fact that physical effort encourages the serotonin production or release, especially when talking about aerobic training, like cycling or running. But it`s not really that simple: If you extend your normal limits or you feel pressured to do the physical effort in any way, the neurochemical effect might be different. So, you should try to integrate cardio exercises into your daily schedule and remember of all their benefits to motivate yourself on this regard.
4. Remember the Happy Moments
It may seem to simple to be true, right? Research shows that a simple evoking of happy moments increases the level of serotonin in the anterior cingulated cortex, a region of the brain which controls attention. Unfortunately, when you feel unhappy, it`s tough to keep in mind pleasant moments. This is also one of the issues regarding depression: those who suffer from this illness don`t seem to remember the fact that they ever were happy, but their memory seems full of sad moments.
5. Choose “Happy” Foods
In terms of nutrition, sweets are a fast way to feel better, but unfortunately, the effect doesn`t really last (and on top of that, you get fat as well). That is why you need to concentrate mostly towards proteins, rich in tryptophan, a substance which turns into serotonin. This works better if it`s consumed with a small amount of carbohydrates with a slow release, such as brown rice. Also, healthy fats are very important, so don`t give up on fish, vegetable oils or avocado. The bad news is that it`s not advisable to drink coffee, because it reduces the serotonin level. If you cannot give up this bad habit, try to consume it while eating.
We all desire to find happiness one way or another. Even though this depends on a lot of factors, we can try to make our lives pleasant by various ways, which include by trying to understand how our body chemistry works and adopting a lifestyle which gives the organism a state of well being. Without having to consider about raising the levels of serotonin, as long as you care for yourself and you spoil yourself every now in a while, your life will most likely become more beautiful.