Take happiness into your own hands. Here are a few of my favorite ways to increase serotonin (the “happy hormone”); try incorporating them into your days so you can create a happier life.
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama
Serotonin, the Happy Hormone
Serotonin is the body’s natural mood-enhancing chemical that has incredible health benefits. It plays an essential role in the regulation of your appetite, body temperature, mood, emotions, memory and learning, cravings, pain tolerance, sleep habits, digestion, and some social behavior.
Due to its ability to make you feel more joyful, serotonin is often referred to as the “happy hormone.”
An imbalance of serotonin may be linked to depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic, and excess anger.
Though the following activities may not be entirely sufficient, they represent a few great ways to increase serotonin levels naturally. You deserve to live a happy life.
5 Natural Ways to Increase Serotonin Levels
1. Perform an act of kindness.
Kindness has been shown to promote feelings of happiness and peace, bolster the immune system, and increase serotonin levels. Not only will being kind make you feel better, but bystanders witnessing your act of kindness will be blessed with positive effects–like less stress and heightened immunity.
A simple act of kindness can have a tremendous impact on someone’s life. Embrace your power to make someone smile, to make someone laugh, and to make someone’s day a little (or a lot) better. The world needs your power put into action.
Read this post for seven thoughtful ideas for random acts of kindness.
2. Reflect on past achievements.
Much like gratitude practices, reflecting on significant achievements reminds us that we’re valued and have a lot to be thankful for in life.
For a quick serotonin boost during a stressful day, take a few moments to reflect on past victories, positive events, celebrations, and good times. This will not only directly increase serotonin production, but it will give your mind a rest from thinking about negative events.
Of course, it can be hard to recall being happy when life seems crappy, but it’s absolutely possible. Talk to a friend, look at mementos of good times, read your happiness journal, pick a note from your happiness jar, or go for a quick walk outside to get yourself out of a funk.
3. Soak up some sunshine.
Although too much ultraviolet light isn’t usually a good thing, some daily exposure (experts suggest about 20 minutes) to the sun is good for you. Moderate sun exposure promotes vitamin D and serotonin production, and boosts melatonin production (the body’s natural sleep hormone) at night.
Early morning sunlight is more intense, so try getting outside for a 20-minute walk in the morning to boost your mood and improve your sleep.
4. Move your body.
Exercise can do a lot to improve your mood. In numerous studies, exercise (especially aerobic exercise and yoga) has been shown to increase serotonin production.
I find that the trick is to enjoy the movement. If you dread exercising, chances are you won’t stick with it and you won’t reap the same benefits from it. Find ways to move your body that you truly enjoy. For instance, I love yoga but I do not love running. Instead I work some heart-pumping movements into my yoga practice and I look forward to it rather than feel forced into it.
You’ll really jump start your mood for the day if you head outside for an early-morning walk in the sunshine.
5. Get a massage.
Sometimes life can seem rushed and overwhelming. Shifting your lifestyle and infusing more relaxation into your week can make a huge difference. Massage is an amazing way to reduce stress, pain, and muscle tension, and it’s a wonderful tool to promote happiness, health, and well-being.
Tiffany Field, Ph.D. and Director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, said: “Massage has had a positive effect on every medical condition we’ve looked at.”
Several studies have demonstrated the positive effects of massage on a variety of medical conditions and stressful experiences. On average, massage therapy increases serotonin levels by 28%, increases dopamine levels by 31%, and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) levels by 31%. Massage therapy can be especially beneficial during pregnancy, helping regulate hormones that affect the baby’s health.
- How do you combat stress, fatigue, and negative emotions?
- Do any of the methods above help you?
Please share your thoughts, positive practices, stress relief methods, and any experiences with in the comments.
Share this post with someone you care about.
I have decided to be happy, because it’s good for my health.
Free wreath graphic by Starsunflower Studio; lettering by Aim Happy.