Serotonin

In the last post, I shared my struggle with post ovulation depression, the research I have done so far to figure out how to feel better, and coming to the conclusion (with some help), that low serotonin levels were to blame.

A Peculiar Thing
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“I want to feel fabulous dahling!”

Now I’m going to share some of the things I found – some of them obvious, some not so obvious, about raising serotonin naturally.

I’m not going to link to all the individual studies, because I want to get this post published instead of it sitting in my drafts tab forever. But don’t take my word for it. A Google search will turn them up for you.

How To Increase Your Serotonin Levels Naturally

Exercise

Y’all knew I was going to say this, didn’t you? Here’s something interesting I learned recently about exercise. Everyone thinks that it’s endorphins that give you that “high” when you workout. Turns out, that’s not true for most of us. In order to get endorphins pumping, you have to hit the wall, and go past exhaustion. Unless you’re running a marathon or participating in a triathlon or something, it’s not endorphins you have to thank for the feel-good feelings. It’s serotonin. That’s right!

And the good news is, you can get the serotonin flowin’ in just minutes of exercise. Literally, 5 or 10 minutes of exercise – almost any kind – walking, dancing, you name it, will do.

Eat Tryptophan Containing Foods

You can find a list of tryptophan containing foods on the Wikipedia page. They’re mostly protein rich foods. Including these in the diet in higher amounts during the second half of your cycle may help raise serotonin levels.

You can also take tryptophan supplements. As I mentioned before, I’m trying not to rely on this because they make me feel a little “odd”. The Wikipedia page mentioned above links to a research study in which participants with serious depression showed improvement on tryptophan supplements.

Sniff Vanilla

This one was a little surprising to me, but apparently sniffing vanilla raises serotonin. How easy is this? I suppose you could light a vanilla scented candle, use vanilla perfume, or just whiff a bottle of vanilla extract.

Eat Good Carbs: Potato, rice, oatmeal

The relationship between carbohydrates and mood is complicated, and it’s different for everyone.¬† As I mentioned yesterday, the experts tend to disagree about whether a low or high carb diet is better for someone wishing to raise serotonin.

I think your best bet is to keep a food diary to see if you notice any connection between eating carbs and your mood. While you’re figuring things out, stick to “good” carbs like potato, rice and oats (provided you’re not sensitive to grains). Eating sugars and white flour tend to cause blood sugar to go haywire and that can affect mood.

Exposure to Natural Light

This one isn’t particularly surprising. It seems we’re hardwired to need lots of exercise, fresh air and sunshine, no? Getting outside is essential. Even in the wintertime, the quality of natural light is far better than artificial lighting outside.

I’m making a real effort to go outside even when it’s cold, which won’t be easy for me.¬† I hate winter.

Warm Shower or Bath

Taking a warm shower or bath raises serotonin levels.

Massage  РEven For a Few Minutes

Few of us can afford to have an on-call massage therapist come to the house and live with us for two weeks out of the month. But we CAN bribe a kid into rubbing our back for a few minutes, which is enough to raise serotonin. Or you can ask your husband to do so. (Incidentally touching you will raise HIS serotonin levels, a win/win!)

None of these are difficult to implement into your life. I hope this information helps someone.

p.s. I’m not a Doctor, so please consult a trusted Health Care Practitioner!

photo credit: Casey David

 

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3 Responses to Serotonin

  1. Tiffany says:

    Great tips! I just posted today about using cinnamon oil for mood boosting. The smell of cinnamon always makes me feel warm and happy.

  2. carrie says:

    Cinnamon + vanilla + good carbs = let’s bake oatmeal cookies and call it a day? :-)

  3. Sounds easy enough. It’s funny because I haven’t been exercising as much since Haylei started school (I posted briefly about my struggle with the new routine), and my cycle is late, like almost a month late. I wonder if there is a correlation? Weirdo body…wish it would get with the program!

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