Let me ask, do you feel helpless when you’re going through a tough time and feeling down?
As if there’s nothing you can do to get yourself out of that state?
We’d all like to feel good all of the time, but, inevitably, we go through periods when we feel demotivated and irritable, or worse unhappy and upset.
I can recall a time in my younger life when I struggled to manage my emotional state. Feelings of tension and unease were my constant companions, and I had little idea how to overcome them.
It was not a comfortable place to be.
If only I’d known then what I know now. That we have far more power over our state of being than we’ve been led to believe.
That there is always something we can do to help ourselves.
So, when you’re going through a low patch, how do you bounce back and feel good again?
Well, there are some scientifically proven ways to do this – and they involve increasing the amount of serotonin in your brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter – a naturally occurring chemical that carries signals along and between the nerves in the brain. As well as helping to regulate bodily functions such as digestion, blood pressure and heart rate, serotonin has a significant effect on mood, sleep and feelings of well-being.
Boosting your serotonin levels can elevate your mood, helping you to feel happier and more motivated. And, what’s more, you can do it naturally. Here are a few ways.
1. Eat foods rich in tryptophan
Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body to produce serotonin. It’s found in foods such as eggs, poultry, dairy, salmon, pineapples, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Mixing tryptophan-high foods with complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, quinoa, rice and legumes, is more likely to increase your serotonin levels.
2. Increase your intake of B vitamins and magnesium
These vitamins and minerals play an important role in the production of serotonin.
Vitamin B6 is found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, potatoes, chickpeas, poultry and soya beans.
Vitamin B12, found in cheese, fish and meat, also increases serotonin when taken with folate-rich foods like green leafy vegetables and whole grains.
Magnesium is needed to convert tryptophan into serotonin, so look for natural sources such as almonds, avocadoes, spinach and bananas.
3. Get a good dose of sunshine
We seem to instinctively know that stepping outdoors on a sunny day can quickly change our mood for the better.
There’s a good reason for this. Sunlight has UV light, and UV light absorbed through the skin produces vitamin D – which in turn supports the production of serotonin.
Just 20 minutes in the sun can be enough to boost your mood.
4. Exercise regularly
Physical movement can trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in the body.
According to research, aerobic exercises like running and cycling are most likely to increase your serotonin levels. But even less vigorous forms of movement, such as dancing, walking and yoga, can be effective.
Exercising regularly for at least 30 minutes a day can positively impact your overall mental and emotional well-being.
5. Get a massage
Research shows that massage can reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the body while at the same time increasing serotonin levels.
So not only is it effective in alleviating stress, it’s also a great mood booster!
One study found that serotonin levels increased by 28% following massage therapy.
6. Start a meditation practice
The benefits of meditation are well documented. It helps to quieten the mind, induce feelings of calmness and alleviate stress.
But did you know that meditation can also enhance your serotonin levels? It’s believed that meditation raises an acid called 5-HIAA in the brain which is directly linked to serotonin.
If you’d like to learn how to meditate, take a look at my 6-week meditation course here: Click here
7. Spend time recalling happy memories
There’s evidence that memory and mood are linked.
The simple act of remembering happy events from your life stimulates serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain associated with attention.
If you have trouble recalling happy memories when feeling low, then talk to a friend or family member, leaf through a photo album, or browse through keepsakes and mementos from the past.
Remember that the source of your power – and your happiness – resides within you.
Sure, there may be occasions when you need others to help you return to a place of well-being and balance, but, ultimately, there are many ways you can support yourself.
In Louise Hay’s words,
“You have the power to heal … We think so often we are helpless, but we are not … Claim and consciously use your power.”
If you’d like more tips on how to feel good, then download a copy of my e-book Feel Good Now: 21 Easy and Natural Ways to Lift Your Mood: Click here