Dear Roddy, in a recent post you spoke about the feel-good chemical called serotonin in the brain. What should I be doing to increase my serotonin levels? Thanks for your interesting blog! PJ
Thank you for your question and for reading my blog. I’m excited to help everybody striving for BodyWHealth.
I wrote about the role of serotonin in the emotional brain, which is the part of the mammalian brain that takes us past simple survival instinct, and gave us love! Actually, its more important for the behavior it drives than the feeling it gives us. If you remember its intention, you’ll know the best ways to increase it in your brain. The purpose of the emotional brain is to allow us to care for children (and family) and collaborate with other people. So, if you want to boost your serotonin levels, then love your children and engage meaningfully with others – whether socially, in community service or at work.
I suspect that you’re asking about other ways, and I know there are many quick-fix myths about this, so here’s a quick list of things to do where there is some scientific proof:
- Physical contact: snuggling, cuddling, massage, back-rubs all boost serotonin (and have been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol too).
- Exercise boosts tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, as well as endorphins that also enhance mood.
- Light: serotonin levels are higher in summer, and higher on longer days, so bathe your life with sunlight during the day.
- Think positive: remember that the cognitive brain can override the emotional brain. See also Golden Rule #5, “Believe and Celebrate”.
- Food: eat serotonin-favorable foods like dark chocolate and drink red wine (contain resveratrol that boosts both serotonin and endorphins); and limit your caffeine intake because it opposes serotonin; omega 3 fatty acids may help serotonin functionality.
- Stress: there is some evidence that long-term stress erodes your serotonin levels, so for many reasons, find ways to avoid stress.
Hope this helps? You should also read the blog about the health benefits of giving!
If you have a question, please submit it via the connect tab. I try to answer all questions, either by direct email response, or by posting for all to see. I will not publish your name in public responses. Remember, there is no stupid question!!