Six Ways to Combat Anxiety
by Jamie Spannhake
February 07, 2023
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a kind of chemical messenger that helps the brain function. More specifically, serotonin is a “feel good” neurotransmitter and a mood stabilizer that boosts feelings of wellness and balance.
When serotonin levels are optimal, you are able to think more clearly, act rather than react, and address stressful situations with calm and clarity.
There are ways to naturally increase serotonin levels in the brain.
Here are six of them.
1. A Healthy Diet. A healthy, balanced diet is important for optimal serotonin levels. In particular, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, pineapples, and complex carbohydrates (like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains) increase serotonin levels. It is also important to limit added sugars because sugar disrupts normal chemical reactions in the brain, which can inhibit serotonin processing and production. Supplement your healthy diet with B vitamins, fish oil, holy basil, rodiola, and L-tyrosine, all of which help the brain produce more serotonin.
2. Exercise. It is the most effective way to increase serotonin levels. There are no side effects, and it always works. As little as 30 minutes of brisk walking three times each week will help.
3. Get Body Work. Methods including massage, acupuncture, acupressure, and reflexology relieve stress and boost serotonin levels.
4. Grab Sunlight. Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the winter months when there is much less sunlight. This is because the brain has less serotonin when there is less sunlight. Spend at least 15 minutes each day in the sun. Go for a walk before work or after lunch, or sit by a sunny window on the commuter train. You can also purchase a light box for your office or home.
Related Content: Get Your Nature "Fix" to Improve Your Mind & Mood
5. Use Your Mind. Thinking about past happy experiences, or looking at photos of those experiences, can boost serotonin levels. The same is true for keeping a gratitude journal and daydreaming about happy times. Spending time with loved ones and talk therapy with a trusted therapist are also great ways to get out of your head and allow serotonin in.
6. Take Two Days for Your Mental Health. Use the first day to catch up on stuff. Don’t let your colleagues know you are working, so you can handle existing tasks without new tasks being added. Use the second day as a day off to boost your serotonin levels by finding some peace and mental clarity.