Winter blues is sneaking upon us with the shortening days, with the bigger coats and jackets that isolate us further from each other, and this only adds up to current safety measures when spontaneous socialising, or socialising at all, is literally impossible.
What to do in order to stay upbeat, happy and energetic?
First of all, if you are a woman, let’s start with how many of these you experience lately. If you are a man, skip this part and jump 3 paragraphs lower to the black letters: you need to unbutton your jeans to make room for the roll around your waist that “grew overnight”, and you find that exercise don’t help; endless debates and ruminations wake you up in the middle of the night; you start caring less how you look; your attitude toward your children is more ambivalent than it once was; your periods are getting unpredictable; you start noticing a continual doubting in your own instincts and insights; you walk in a room more and more often with forgetting what you wanted there; you prefer a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate over sex and in general sex may be your lowest priority; when you hear that you should give up alcohol, sugar or flour in order to improve your mood and hormonal tweaking sounds like way too much work. If more than 5 of these moments , thoughts you experience, regardless your age, you entered perimenopause.
This means you wont get the hit of joy from your usual sources. You still can stay happy and energetic, but you need to change strategies! Why?
Your ovaries no longer produce the same amount of sex hormones as before, and this is topped up with your brain getting less responsive to the sex hormones that you produce at all, further along the sex hormones the happy brain chemicals are decreasing as well, like serotonin. This together with the winter coming and the corona restrictions, makes it even more important for us to pay attention and give time, effort to follow strategies that help producing more happy brain chemicals: serotonin, progesterone, dopamine and endorphins.
5 Bio-Hacks to Increase Progesterone you can find in a former article. Here we are looking into strategies that help increasing serotonin. How?
1. If your score on the questionnaire indicates, add amino acids to your supplements that play as important precursors to hormone and neurotransmitter serotonin, such as 5HTP or tryptophan. Check contraindications here bellow *
2. Add ingredients to your meals that contain high amount of tryptophan, such as eggs, tofu, soy sauce, poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), spinach, seeds and nuts (nuts with measure to avoid high oxalate intake). Salmon would be also recommended, but lately it’s challenging to have acceptable quality (GMO salmon, “frankenfish” escaped into the ocean with altered nutritional values, and salmon farms often feed the fish with supplements that have adverse affects on humans.)
3. Try St. John’s Wort either as a herbal tee or as a supplement. It works for some people, but not all. Keep in mind, it may make other medications like hormonal birth control, cancer treatment drugs, or blood clotting medication less effective.
4. You may try to take SAM (US) or AdoMet (EU). Both stand for S-Adenosyl-L-methionine, a chemical that is made in the body naturally out of amino acids. It’s sold as a supplement. Adverse affects are rare (only in case of bipolar disorder or those who are immunocompromised).
5. The brain produces serotonin in response to sun and daylight. Leave your dark room! When the sunshine duration is drastically decreasing you may sit under bright light instead. Finish doing this three-four hours before bed time.
6. Go for a massage or ask your partner to give you one. According to a 2005 review, massage therapy can effectively boost serotonin levels by an average of 28%.
*If you’re currently taking a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), don’t take either 5-HTP or tryptophan. It may cause serotonin syndrome, an adverse reaction characterized by agitation, confusion, rapid heart rate, and blood pressure fluctuations.
Don’t take amino acids if you have ulcer, cancer, severe kidney or liver problems, schizophrenia, if you are nursing or pregnant.