8 Serotonin Hacks That Will Help Boost Your Mood
It seems like CBD is the go-to product for mood boosting benefits. But if you're looking for a cannabis free option try these serotonin hacks

July 20, 2022

serotonin hacks

While there are countless mood-boosting products hitting our shelves, those purported benefits are barely—if at all—verified. So, empty that shopping cart and look to science instead. Right now, there are several steps you can take that’ll help you net an instant hit of the happiness hormone that’s often in short supply. Start with our serotonin hacks:

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: 9 Surprising Ways To Boost Your Strength, Energy and Mood

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 “Running Up That Hill” for the 13 252nd 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. Plus, it’ll remind you just how jaw-droppingly great the new season of Stranger Things is, netting you two serotonin hacks for the price of one.

5. Try a Cold Shower

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

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: 16 Ways To Boost Your Mental Strength

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: How Staying Up Late Might Be Tanking Your Mood

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.