Serotonin, healthy lifestyle and good vibes during the Covid-19 Pandemic

By PVM | Art of Happiness | 4 May 2020

"Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says 'Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.' Man bursts into tears. Says 'But, doctor...I am Pagliacci.'

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and lock-down measures, is more likely to be affected routine disturbances, sleep disorders and even mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

If is important to maintain some type of routine and maintain some sense of connection with others and the mental-health will be tested. Embracing good mental-health and well-being measures will protect ourselves and those around us. The effect of  being active and eating healthy can be boosted by supplying and creating more serotonin.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another. In terms of our body function, serotonin can also affect the functioning of our cardiovascular system, muscles, and various elements in the endocrine system.


The most widely distributed , and the most widely studied, neurotransmitter in the brain, serotonin regulates a vast range of psychological and biological functions, including mood, sleep, arousal and appetite. Researchers at Cambridge University and UCLA have found that serotonin also plays a critical role in regulating emotions such as impulsive aggression during social decision making. Impulsive aggression is the tendency to respond with hostility or aggression when faced with serious frustration. 

There are many researchers who believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. Possible problems include low brain cell production of serotonin, a lack of receptor sites able to receive the serotonin that is made, inability of serotonin to reach the receptor sites, or a shortage in tryptophan, the chemical from which serotonin is made. If any of these biochemical glitches occur, researchers believe it can lead to depression, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic, and even excess anger.

With serotonin affecting the overall mood, other aspects which stem from a less than happy feeling due to serotonin deficiencies are also involved. Sleep disturbances are prevalent among people suffering from depression. Increasing serotonin levels will rectify such insomniatic disorders. Emotional eating is also related to depression and lack of serotonin levels. Binge eating and carbohydrate cravings will lead to undesired weight gain. Generally, overweight people prove to have a well below normal serotonin level. In certain clinical trials, elevating brain serotonin levels reduces calorie consumption in the obese with no apparent effort to do so. Replenishing serotonin levels normalizes eating behaviours by reducing carbohydrates and fats with the reduction of body weight as a result.

How to maintain wellness?

In terms of the effects of actual foods on serotonin, here are some suggestions form nutritionists:

• If you're having trouble falling asleep, try a small snack of carbohydrate-rich food. Warm milk may work for the psychological comfort, but also because milk contains a moderate amount of carbohydrate in the form of lactose (milk sugar).

• If you tend to have only carbohydrates (bread, plain bagel or muffin) before class, and you often fall asleep during class, try adding some protein by putting some hard cheese (soft cheese, cheddar, American, Swiss, etc.) or peanut butter on the bagel. Or, have a yogurt or cottage cheese instead.

• For those who are active (athletes or exercisers), don't be fooled by carbohydrate's relaxing effects. You'll do best with a diet rich in grains/starches, legumes (dried beans and peas), fruit, and vegetables in order to get carbohydrates for muscle energy. Don't skimp on protein either, which is necessary for muscle growth and repair. Additionally, include some fat for satiety and healthy skin. 


How to increase the serotonin levels?

* Better use of daylight. Working indoors does not have to be associated with sub-optimal exposure to bright light. 

* Exercise improves mood in sub-clinical populations as well as in patients. The most consistent effect is seen when regular exercisers undertake aerobic exercise at a level with which they are familiar

* Diet is the most important factor that could play a role in raising the levels of serotonin in the brain. Tryptophan, which increases brain serotonin in humans, is an effective antidepressant in mild-to-moderate depression. Further, in healthy people with high trait irritability, it increases agreeableness, decreases depression and improves mood. using supplements is to eat them often,
with a serving of healthy carbohydrates, like rice,
oatmeal, or whole-grain bread.


What food to eat?

Eggs: Chicken eggs are the most commonly eaten eggs. They supply all essential amino acids for humans , a source of 'complete protein' and provide several vitamins and minerals as significant amounts of the Daily Value, includingretinol (vitamin A), riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B12, choline and phosphorus. A 100 gram serving of eggs provides 155 calories (kcal) of food energy and 12.6 g of protein. Vitamins A and D are in the egg yolk, one of the few foods to naturally contain vitamin D. A yolk contains more than two-thirds of the recommended daily intake of 300 mg of cholesterol . The yolk makes up about 33% of the liquid weight of the egg, containing all of the fat, slightly less than half of the protein, and most of the other nutrients.

Cheese is a food derived from milk that is produced in a wide range of flavours, textures, and forms by coagulation of the milk protein casein. It comprises proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. During production, the milk is usually acidified, and adding the enzyme rennet causes coagulation. The solids are separated and pressed into final form. For a few cheeses, the milk is curdled by adding acids such as vinegar or lemon juice. Most cheeses are acidified to a lesser degree by bacteria, which turn milk sugars into lactic acid, then the addition of rennet completes the curdling. Cheese is valued for its portability, long life, and high content of fat, protein, calcium, and phosphorus.

Pineapples Pineapples can be consumed fresh, cooked, juiced, or preserved. They are found in a wide array of cuisines. In addition to consumption, the pineapple leaves are used to produce the textile . The fibres is also used as a component for wallpaper and other furnishings. In a 100 gram serving, raw pineapple is an excellent source of manganese (44% Daily Value (DV)) and vitamin C (58% DV), but otherwise contains no essential nutrients in significant content . Pineapples are a major source of bromelain, a protein that can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy as well as help suppress coughs, according to some research.

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is a component in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu that has been processed in some way. Tofu is bought or made to be soft, firm, or extra firm. Tofu has a subtle flavour and can be used in savoury and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish.

Salmon is classified as an oily fish, salmon is considered to be healthy due to the fish's high protein, high omega-3 fatty acids, and high vitamin D content. Salmon is also a source of cholesterol, with a range of 23–214 mg/100 g depending on the species. According to reports in the journal Science, however, farmed salmon may contain high levels of dioxins. PCB levels may be up to eight times higher in farmed salmon than in wild salmon, but still far below levels considered dangerous. Nonetheless, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the benefits of eating even farmed salmon far outweigh any risks imposed by contaminants A simple rule of thumb is that the vast majority of Atlantic salmon available on the world market are farmed (almost 99%), whereas the majority of Pacific salmon are wild caught (greater than 80%).



Research shows that facing daily life and your interactions with others with a positive outlook can significantly boost your serotonin levels. Dalai Lama said : ““Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” and Aristotel added: ““Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” And yet, the search for happiness can be a lifelong search, especially if we look at happiness as something that will come once we achieve certain goals, a nice home, a perfect spouse, the perfect job, and when we get these goals, instead of being happy, we often are looking forward to being happy when we meet our next goals. Life shouldn’t be an on-going chase for promotions and a hunger for material possessions, houses or expensive cars.

Happiness shouldn’t be something that happens to us in the future, maybe someday, if things go well. Happiness should be here and now, who we are now, with the people we’re with now, doing the things we’re doing now. And if we’re not with people who make us happy, and doing things that make us happy then we should take action to make that happen. Don’t wait for happiness. Seize it. Follow Leo Tolstoy advice :“If you want to be happy, be.” Be present. Don’t think about how great things will be in the future. Don’t dwell on what did or didn’t happen in the past.

Focus on the good things. Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects, whether you’re happy or not depends largely on which aspects you focus on. Did you sprain your ankle running or you have a muscle ache ? Well, your body probably needed a week’s rest anyway, as you were running too much! Did your baby get sick? Well, at least it’s only a flu virus and nothing life-threatening and at least you have a wonderful baby to nurse to health!

Notice the small things. Instead of waiting for the big things to happen , marriage, kids, house, nice car, big promotion, winning the lottery, find happiness in the small things that happen every day. Little things like having a quiet cup of coffee in the early morning hours, or the delicious and simple taste of berries, or the pleasure of reading a book with your child, or taking a walk or a dinner in town with your partner. Noticing these small pleasures, throughout your day, makes a huge difference.

Be grateful. Learning to be grateful for what’s in our lives, for the people who have enriched our lives, goes a long way toward happiness. It helps us to appreciate what we have and what we have received, and the people who have helped us. 

Become a lifelong learner. I find an inordinate amount of pleasure in reading, in learning about new things, in enriching my knowledge as I get older. I think spending time reading some of the classics, as well as passionately pursuing new interests, is energy well invested. Try to do a little of it every day, and see if it doesn’t make you happier.

Simplify your life. This is really about identifying the things you love and then eliminating everything else as much as possible. By simplifying your life in this way, you create time for your happiness, and you reduce the stress and chaos in your life. In my experience, living a very simple life is also a pleasure in itself.

Meditate. You don’t need to join a Yoga course or get a mat or learn any lotus positions, but the simplest form of meditation can really help you to be present and to get out of the worrying part of your head. You can do it right now: close your eyes and simply try to focus on your breathing as long as possible. Pay attention to the breath as it comes into your body, and then as it goes out. When you feel your mind start to wander, don’t fret, but just simply acknowledge the other thoughts, and then return to your breathing. Do this a little each day and you’ll get better at it.

Learn to accept. One of the challenges for people like me, people who want to improve themselves and change the world, is learning to accept things as they are. Sometimes it’s better to learn to accept, and to love, the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to try to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal. I’m not saying you should accept cruelty and injustice, instead learn to love things when they are less
than “perfect”.

Smile. So simple yet so powerful. This is as contagious as it gets. Do it everywhere. Be known as the person who’s always smiling, especially to those frowning

Happiness not spent today does not equal more happiness tomorrow. For some, happiness comes easy. No thought or routine required. For others, simple reminders and practices are all it takes. Happiness is a choice. It always will be. Happiness only exists today. There is no waiting. If you aren’t happy today then you aren’t happy. Don’t convince yourself that some sacrifice today is worth the hope of happiness in the future.


From : Happiness Guide: -How to boost your serotonin level



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Art of Happiness
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Live simple... enjoy life! "If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more?" Roy T. Bennett

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