Royce Shook

1 year ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Happy DOSE Serotonin

The third happy drug Leah talked to us about was Serotonin. This hormone (and neurotransmitter) helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.

How do you increase the amount of Serotonin, she asked? The answer: get outside and spend time in the sun. I live on the Wet Coast of Canada and in the winter, we may have over 30 days of cloud and drizzle, so how do you get sun in the winter? According to 2008 research exposure to sunlight can increase the production of serotonin.

Start with at least 10 to 15 minutes outside each day. If you’re tired of the same old sights, try exploring a new neighbourhood or park. (Just don’t forget the sunscreen!)

Many people in BC suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) because we don’t get enough sun in the winter. One way to treat this disorder is Light therapy, it has been shown to be effective in up to 85 percent of SAD cases. However, the timing and length of exposure needed can vary according to your symptoms and circadian rhythm, so you’ll need guidance from your doctor or mental health professional to find the right dosage.

Exercise helps increase your serotonin so combine exercise with being outdoors. Move your workout outdoors to maximize your serotonin boost. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at a time. Any amount of physical activity has health benefits.

There are several supplements that may help increase your happy hormone levels. Here are just a few to consider:

green tea and green tea extract (dopamine and serotonin)

probiotics (may boost serotonin and dopamine production)

tryptophan (serotonin) tryptophan can be found in some foods, especially those high in protein. Foods known to be high in tryptophan include: chicken, eggs, cheese, fish, peanuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds, milk, turkey, tofu and soy, and chocolate.

Supplements could be helpful, but some aren’t recommended for people with certain health conditions. They can also interact with certain medications, so make sure to talk to your healthcare provider before you try them.

Not getting enough quality sleep can affect your health in multiple ways. For one, it can contribute to an imbalance of hormones, particularly dopamine, in your body. This can have a negative impact on your mood as well as your physical health.

Setting aside 7 to 9 hours each night for sleep can help restore the balance of hormones in your body, which will likely help you feel better.

It’s normal to experience some stress from time to time. But living with regular stress or dealing with highly stressful life events can cause drops in dopamine and serotonin production. This can negatively affect your health and mood, making it harder to deal with stress.

If you’re under a lot of stress, the American Psychological Association recommends:

taking a brief break from the source of stress

laughter

taking 20 minutes for a walk, run, bike ride, or other physical activity

meditation

social interaction

Any of these approaches may help relieve your stress while also boosting your levels of serotonin, dopamine, and even endorphins.

If you enjoy a massage, here’s one more reason to get one: According to 2004 research, both serotonin and dopamine levels increased after a massage. You can get these benefits from a massage by a licensed massage therapist, but you can also, get a massage from a partner for some extra oxytocin.

Happy DOSE Serotonin

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