Hone IN on SeratoNIN

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on February 15, 2021 # Lifestyle

Most of us have heard of serotonin, and most of us might know its definition to be the invisible force (neurotransmitter) in our brains that is credited for putting us in better moods and increasing our satisfaction. There’s a part of our DNA whose primary job is to make us happy, and that’s backed with research. Serotonin is an undeniably vital component of our bodies: it’s also needed for motor skills and cognitive function, including regulating blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion.Kristin outside smiling

All that, especially the positivity and satisfaction benefits of serotonin, sound pretty sweet. While there are other forces (again, neurotransmitters) active in mood regulation, boosting your serotonin levels is the first step. So, how do we get more of it? I have tips.

  1. Eat better. Depending on what you eat, you could be replenishing your levels, or depleting it. “Nutritional deficiencies can directly lead to problems with replenishing serotonin,” integrative psychiatrist James Lake, MD told a reporter for Well+Good. “We have real evidence to back up what’s good common sense: that eating well doesn’t just benefit your body, but it also benefits your brain.” A Mediterranean diet is recommended for boosting happiness because of the healthy fats, vitamins, and nutrients that work to boost brain health and lower inflammation.
  2. Get consistent sleep. Not getting enough sleep is a no-brainer problem, but it is also definitely possible to sleep too much. Sleeping too much affects your body’s ability to use serotonin, and not sleeping enough affects your brain’s serotonin receptors and their sensitivity to the positive effects. Get for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and you’re golden.
  3. Manage your vitamin D. More than a couple of mental health conditions are linked to a vitamin D deficiency, mainly because vitamin D (along with omega-3 fatty acids) helps with serotonin production. Consider taking a supplement, but talk to your doctor first.
  4. Take a walk. This is where my personal experience shines brightest; physical exercise has been an easy source of mood-boosting since as long as I can remember. It’s trickier in the winter months, but equally as important. Put on your mittens and a thick jacket, and walk around your neighborhood! Or, if you’re wimpy like I am, try some in-house exercises.
  5. Don’t stress about it. Life is complicated and annoying – I get it. But think of it this way: your anxiety doesn’t solve any problems, and it puts you further from your goal of a good mood with satisfaction. Stress is considered a chronic inflammatory condition, both in the brain and in the body. The inflammation comes into play when it damages the neurons that produce serotonin, or the parts of the brain involved in the production. Prioritize your self-care, therapy, and the things that make you feel filled.

Life is tough sometimes, but the good news: your DNA was designed to help you deal with it. The only thing you need to do to contribute, for the most part, is to take care of yourself. Take care of yourself! With respect to our attitudes while we navigate this volatile world, can all use a little boost.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.