Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or hormone that maintains mood and well-being. It helps regulate appetite, sleep, learning, memory and cognition.
Sounds like something we could all use more of, doesn’t it? You aren’t wrong. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression.
What can you do to increase your serotonin levels?
For one, you can exercise regularly. Anything you enjoy will do. From simply taking walks, to yoga, cycling or weight training. 30 minutes three times a week is a recommended minimum to see results for increased serotonin.
Second, a better diet can. Serotonin is created by the body from tryptophan which comes only from one’s diet. The body cannot produce it. Some common, high-tryptophan foods are: eggs, sa
Getting more light is a third thing you can do to help. You’ve probably heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is a type of seasonal depression caused primarily by lack of light. If you can’t make it out in the day time there are many sun lamps on the market. 20-30 minutes of from 2 feet away, not looking at the light directly, should help increase serotonin levels.
A fourth thing to try is getting a massage. Massages decrease cortisol, the alarm hormone (that causes the fight or flight response). Unreleased cortisol can cause anxiety by keeping you on “high alert” and increase your heart rate. Massages will lower cortisol and increase serotonin.
Though we usually don’t think of canned pasta as health food, for one Massachusetts mom SpaghettiOs have calmed both her and her autistic daughter’s souls during the pandemic. Because her autistic daughter’s routine has been so sorely interrupted it is the only food she will eat and it has been in short supply during the pandemic.
While many went crazy buying toilet paper and hand sanitizer, Crystal MacDonald had just one product she needed to find: SpaghettiOs. Her daughter, Ashlyn, is mostly nonverbal and the 11-year-old has taken comfort during the pandemic in SpaghettiOs with meatballs.
MacDonald believes that because food is a more intense experience for her daughter than the average person that the SpaghettiOs are the only food with the right balance of texture and flavor she could handle. Without her routine, which is vital to her daughter’s and many other autistic people’s mental health, she couldn’t handle eating other foods. MacDonald believes the predictability of taste and texture bring Ashlyn a sense of control in these troubling times.
When local stores ran dry MacDonald spent her time calling or visiting up to 20 out of the way stores each day. Eventually she took her quest to social media and the Sun Chronicle eventually featured MacDonald in a August piece about food shortages amidst the pandemic.
MacDonald has already received hundreds of cans in support and the Campbell’s Soup Company has now heard of her story and is committed to sending MacDonald and Ashlynd a one-year supply of the calming SpaghettiOs.
Isolation has been a big part of stopping the spread of Covid-19 and those many of those most vulnerable to the illness, as we know, are the elderly. Their isolation often has come at the cost of loneliness due to social distancing.
As the US finds itself in the eighth month of fighting Covid-19 and there still being restrictions on nursing home visitation in some places, advocates for the elderly are trying to find creative ways to help decrease loneliness in seniors due to lack of social contact.
The Alabama Department of Senior Services has piloted a program to provide seniors with very lifelike robotic pets. One Alabama senior simply used the word “Pretty” to describe the robotic companion she was provided. According to officials it is the first word this senior has uttered in a long time.
In Alabama, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania state agencies have partnered with Ageless Innovations to combat loneliness by providing companionship and comfort through lifelike robotic pets for seniors.
Joy for All Companion Pets are made to look, feel and sound like real pets in an attempt to create a solution that is all benefit and little downside (no need for medical care, feeding, training etc).
In New York state agencies reported that 70% of pilot participants reported a decrease in isolation after one year of owner a Joy for All Companion Pet.