Low mood is linked to serotonin depletion and puts people at risk for depression. And with waning winter light and holiday stress already upon us, we all could use a little more serotonin in our lives.
Perhaps you aren't keen on SSRIs, or they don't work for you. You may want to supplement the medicine you're taking already. Or you might crave more serotonin in your life. The good news is that even in wintertime, there are ways to boost your serotonin naturally.
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter linked to a happier mood, better memory, and a regulated fear response. Stress management, digestive health, sexual energy, sleep health, and body temperature are influenced by serotonin. These responses all relate to comfort and satiety. Our natural state is to be at ease, which is why we all crave this soothing molecule.
Seven Natural Ways to Boost Serotonin
- Work out! Get moving to make serotonin quicker. Tryptophan, the amino acid used to make serotonin, is released when you work out. Plus, working out pumps up endorphins. It's an all-natural mood booster; no prescription required.
- Go towards the light. Getting light, especially right when you wake up, is a great way to stimulate serotonin production. We used to receive more light as an agricultural society decades ago. So try going for a morning walk and notice how your mood feels afterward.
- Stomp out SAD. Light, one way of increasing serotonin, is a factor in SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). With fewer hours of light available in the winter, especially in colder climates, it can be harder to feel happier. Getting outside into fresh air during daylight hours has a substantial mood-lifting effect. Exercise can even work as well as antidepressants in some cases.
- Predict positive emotions. When we engage in positive emotions, like gratitude and positive self-regard, we are engaging in our emotional health. Our brains react strongly to positive input, so be aware of how you talk to yourself. People with positive emotions live longer! Positivity has health-span elongating side effects.
- Try tryptophan. As discussed earlier, tryptophan is necessary for serotonin production. Think about your diet when you want to feel better. The secret lies in tryptophan, found in complex carbs like veggies, fruit, whole grains, and legumes. While exercise is the best way to produce tryptophan, it can also be absorbed from nutrients.
- Cherish physical touch. Physical contact evokes serotonin. Whether you cuddle, hold hands, or hug, all help serotonin circulate. Pick a form of physical touch that makes you feel good. Cuddling with your pet also counts.
- Give and receive gratitude. Receiving gratitude activates serotonergic pathways. Witnessing gratitude is almost just as good. Try watching videos online of people appreciating one another for a serotonin hit.
The days seem to speed by as winter encroaches, and serotonin plays a role. Serotonin affects how we perceive time. We generally underestimate passing of time at the end of the day and overestimate time passing at the beginning of the day. If you can, get up earlier to make the most of your day and biohack your perception of time.
Cryotherapy and Serotonin
Cryotherapy, the therapeutic use of cold, is shown to elevate serotonin levels. In one study, people with lumbar osteoarthritis experienced improved symptoms and functioning after WBCT (Whole Body Cryotherapy) and kinesiotherapy (strength and endurance-building activities). The participants also experienced increased serotonin levels after cryotherapy when combined with kinesiotherapy.
Try cryotherapy to optimize the work you are already doing with exercise, light, physical touch, and emotional regulation. Naturally biohack your way to a better day and book a cryotherapy session at Restore.