The last few weeks of winter drag on for many of us. If the winter blahs have really got a solid grip this season, you don’t have to wait until spring to shake them. Daily runs are a great way to put yourself in a better mood, but if you’re still down even after your run, there’s more you can do. It starts with boosting serotonin levels.
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What does serotonin do?
Many people know serotonin as the chemical in your brain that makes you happy. When serotonin levels dip, your mood goes with it. More specifically though, serotonin impacts mood, memory, food cravings, pain tolerance, sleep quality, appetite and how efficiently your body regulates its temperature. So for many Canadians, a drop in the brain chemical has a whole lot of side effects.
Do I have a serotonin deficiency?
Serotonin deficiencies are common. They happen if you have a poor diet and aren’t getting enough protein and vitamins. If you’re producing a lot of cortisol (a stress hormone) that can take away from your serotonin production too.
How to I fix it?
There are plenty of both both short-term and long-term solutions if you have this problem. For starts, head outside for a run. Getting outside in the fresh air and exposing yourself to light is often an instant mood picker-upper. For more permanent fixes before spring though, here are a few items you can look for at your health shop:
St. John’s Wort: St. John’s Wort supplements are a natural remedy for anxiety or mild depression. It also prevents the breakdown of serotonin in the brain. This is something you should take daily but keep in mind: though you may feel benefits shortly after taking it, it will sometimes take up to four weeks to fully kick in.
5 HTP: A 5 HTP supplement is great for the person who is looking to treat depression and anxiety but it also helps with sleeplessness, making you less groggy when the alarm clock goes off.
Vitamin B: If you can get a B6 or B12 supplement, that will be the best in supporting serotonin function and production. Pick up a bottle and you also lower your risk of depression.
Inositol: Add it to foods like your post-run smoothie. This one benefits the nervous system and improves serotonin activity.