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5 simple ways to boost serotonin

1.5 min read

Serotonin, sometimes known as the happiness chemical, is a neurotransmitter believed to help regulate mood, sleep, memory and more. So it’s no surprise that many antidepressants increase serotonin in the brain.

Here are some ways you can build resilience by maximizing your natural serotonin levels.

1. Sleep

While we sleep, melatonin is transformed into serotonin. A very recent study showed lack of sleep has two significant effects: we become more emotional due to over-stimulation of the amygdala, and less rational due to under-stimulation of the left frontal cortex. 

2. Smile

Researchers studying the effect of facial expressions on mood asked participants to hold a pencil between their teeth, forcing them to contract their cheeks in imitation of a smile. Another group held it between their lips. When asked, the group holding the pencil between their teeth reported feeling significantly happier. 

3. Sports

Cardio and aerobic exercise is good for the heart, while very brief, very intense exercise to the point of exhaustion is ideal for the brain. In this anaerobic zone, your body burns protein, and uses metabolites bound to the protein to manufacture serotonin. Seven minutes with a heart rate about 160 beats per minute is all it takes. 

4. Social contact

People with a broader social network secrete more serotonin and are much more resilient when it comes to dealing with stress. Of course, we’re talking interactions with real human beings, not virtual interactions like Facebook or X. And, research shows a lack of social contact can reduce life expectancy by 10 to 15 years. 

5. Spirituality

Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves. Science used to shy away from research on spirituality until we discovered that people with a strong spiritual practice are happier than others. Your religion doesn’t matter, the same positive effects have been observed among Catholic nuns and Buddhist monks. 

Article by Dr. Georges Sabongui © 2018

© Dr. Georges Sabongui 2018. All rights reserved.

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