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5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Serotonin Levels If You're Down In The Dumps

Increase your serotonin levels naturally with these research-backed mood-boosting tips.

Consider serotonin nature's happy pill.


By Emily Abbate, Women's Health

Your boyfriend broke up with you. You’re ridiculously stressed at work. You feel like you’re in a total workout slump. Whatever the case may be, don’t you sometimes wish that you just had a magic mood-boosting supplement? Here’s the thing: You already do. Serotonin, your body's natural feel-good chemical, is designed to help you take whatever comes your way in stride. 
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Helping to regulate sleep, appetite, and mood, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that exists in the brain and gut, and has been intricately linked to mental health. According to Harvard Medical School, some people who suffer from depression may have excessively low levels of serotonin, which explains why selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which increase serotonin levels in the brain, are a mainstay in the treatment of depression.

But guess what? You can naturally increase your serotonin level to help keep your mental health where it needs to be. (Remember, there's no shame in needing an extra "bump" from SSRIs or other medications for the treatment of depression!)

Here, five research-backed strategies for promoting healthy serotonin levels:

Exercise

[post_ads]We’ve all heard it before: Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. (Thanks, Legally Blonde.) Here's how it works: When you exercise, your body releases a surge of neurochemicals, including serotonin and dopamine, that are designed to combat any ache in your muscles and hook you on the movement your body craves. It doesn't take a lot of exercise to get a boost. According to University of Vermont researchers, a 20-minute workout can improve your mood for up to 12 hours.

Your best approach: Choose forms of exercise that you actually enjoy, recommends Simon Young, Ph.D., a research psychologist at McGill University in Canada. After all, if you hate every minute of your workout, how much is it really going to improve your mood? (Dance your way fit with High-Intensity Dance Cardio, the first-ever socanomics DVD!)


Get a Massage

When University of Miami School of Medicine researchers performed a comprehensive review of more than a dozen studies on massage therapy, they concluded that, by affecting the body's biochemistry, massages can actually effectively combat both anxiety and depression. In fact, in one series of studies including about 500 men, women, and children with depression or anxiety, massage therapy slashed participants' cortisol (a.k.a. stress hormone) levels by up to 53 percent, while also increasing their serotonin levels.

So, go ahead, treat yo' self. It's doctor-recommended.

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Soak Up Some Sun

Grab cocktails with any girlfriend in January or February, and you’ll probably make some sort of joke about “ugh, this gloominess makes me feel depressed.” However, seasonal affective disorder—which has a lot to do with how much light exposure you’re not getting—is a real thing. One Australian study even found that people had higher serotonin levels on sunny days than on cloudy ones.

If you’re trying to mimic these results inside, you’re going to need to invest in a lamp that is specially designed to combat seasonal affective disorder. (It'll say so right on the label.) By increasing the rate at which serotonin neurons fire, they can help to dramatically alleviate your winter blues, Young explains.


Watch What You Eat

[post_ads]What can't the right eating strategy do? It turns out that a number of foods can naturally boost your serotonin levels. One of the best is nuts. In one study from the American Chemical Society, researchers told 20 people to avoid nuts and 22 others to follow a nut-rich diet for 12 weeks. At the end of the three months, researchers found that those who ate nuts had increased levels of serotonin (among other health benefits).

Other foods that amp up serotonin levels include pineapples, plums, and tomatoes.


Meditate

If you haven’t jumped on the meditation bandwagon by now, you clearly haven’t read up on all of its benefits. While research shows that regular meditation can lower your blood pressure and boost your serotonin levels, 30 minutes is all it takes to help improve symptoms of depression, according to one study from Johns Hopkins University.


See more at: Women's Health

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Health Magazine: 5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Serotonin Levels If You're Down In The Dumps
5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Serotonin Levels If You're Down In The Dumps
Increase your serotonin levels naturally with these research-backed mood-boosting tips.
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