8 Serotonin Hacks That Will Help Elevate Your Mood

CBD isn’t the only pill-free way to get your mood in the right place.


Louee Dessent-Jackson and Scarlett Wrench |

Not every natural wellness remedy is derived from cannabis right now. There are plenty of ways to elevate your body’s own happiness-regulating chemical without the CBD price tag. And between minimal daylight and the always-on COVID-19 news cycle, you could probably use a boost. These eight serotonin hacks are great options.

Related: What To Do About Feelings Of Isolation And Loneliness In Lockdown

1. Take It Outside…

Research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggests that feeling connected to the outdoors causes instant physiological changes, including lower blood pressure and a boost in serotonin. Some doctors are even prescribing nature to their patients. You don’t have to sweat – a walk in the park is fine. Just get out there.

 2. … and Look Around

Light-box therapy – using an indoor device that mimics natural light – has been shown to fight seasonal and nonseasonal depression. Take a page from that book and get a dose of the real thing: go outdoors or work by a bright window and feel the sun on your skin for a few minutes.

Related: 10 Places Around The World You Can Visit Without Leaving Your Couch

3. Swipe Through Your Memories

Recalling happy times can elevate serotonin, according to University of Montreal researchers. It’s likely an active process, not just a placebo effect. When MIT researchers activated positive- memory centres in mouse brains, depressed and stressed mice behaved like never-depressed mice.

4. Play “Old Town Road” for the 14 658th Time


That chill you feel at a musical crescendo is a sign you’re producing dopamine, a reward neurotransmitter closely linked to serotonin. A study in Nature Neuroscience saw that dopamine rose by up to 9 percent in people listening to spine-tingling music.

5. Try A Cold Shower

According to a study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences, a cold-water plunge can boost dopamine levels. You don’t need a bathtub full of ice: even immersion at 13 degrees has benefits.

Related: This Guy Took Freezing Cold Showers Every Day For a Week. Here’s What Happened

6. Leave It All Out There

The elation you feel after a hard run or an intense HIIT session has antidepressant power. Recent research in Preventive Medicine suggests a connection between increased serotonin levels and aerobic and muscle- strengthening exercise. Commit and sprint that final lap.

Related: This HIIT Workout Will Boost Your Weight Loss From Home

7. Have a Side of Tryptophan

Diets high in the amino acid tryptophan may help raise serotonin levels and decrease depressive symptoms and anxiety, some early but promising research indicates. One study from the University of North Dakota gave people a tryptophan- rich diet including mozzarella cheese, soy products, pumpkin seeds, and egg whites for four days, then gave them a diet low in the compound for the same amount of time. When they ate more tryptophan, participants had less anxiety and fewer depressive symptoms.

8. Or Just Fake It

Some elite marathoners use a technique called “periodic smiling” to break through the pain barrier. The mere act of smiling helps release hormones like dopamine and serotonin, which can relieve stress. One study done at Wayne State University even found that those seen smiling more intensely in photos lived longer. If you’re not naturally smiley, there’s an odd piece of science that showed that people who put a pen between their teeth (tip facing forward) activated their smile muscles enough to make their brain think a cartoon was funnier than when they held the pen between their lips.

Related: Do These 8 Ridiculously Simple Things For A Happy Relationship

The Other Happiness Hormone

The hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin is believed to help with serotonin release, so it may pay to increase it, too. Nicknamed the “bonding chemical” and the “love hormone,” it goes up with skin-to-skin contact, like holding hands, hugging or even getting a massage. If none of those is desirable, possible or immediately achievable, weighted blankets can produce similar results.

READ MORE ON: better health emotions health advice mind mood

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