When menopause inevitably arrives along with decreasing hormones — namely estrogen, serotonin takes a nosedive as well. Serotonin is the feel-good hormone. When you are feeling content and happy, this is one of the hormones responsible for these feelings. We take it for granted until it goes away.
There are a lot of changes that women report in menopause and peri-menopause (the 7 to 10 years prior to menopause) and changing moods is a big one. You should not accept anxiety and depression as the new norm. You should make it a priority to talk to your physician and also look at ways you can feel better naturally.
A lot of the women I talk to list a low mood as one of their top complaints. I get it! I struggled with a low mood due to changing hormones. I had to prioritize sleep, incorporate regular outdoor exercises, stop alcohol, and nourish my body with nutritious foods to feel my best.
What Does Serotonin Do For a Person?
Serotonin is one of the natural chemicals in our body that boosts our mood. It carries messages without us even thinking about it between our nerve cells in the brain through our entire body. We need serotonin for our mood, sleep, digestion, bone and wound healing health, sexual desire and blood clotting ability to function properly. Who doesn’t want more of this ‘feel good’ hormone the natural way especially in midlife.
Ways to Naturally Increase Serotonin
- Get more sunlight. Sunlight, especially early in the day helps boost serotonin naturally. Depending on your skin tone, age, and health, you may need up to 30 minutes to really feel the benefits. A way to get light when there is limited natural sunlight at certain times of the year especially if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is to consider light therapy. I use Happylight in the winter months and find it helps boost my mood when I can’t get natural sunlight.
- Exercise. Getting out and exercising, especially in the morning really helps boost your mood. Your brain releases endorphins, helping you to feel more calm and happier. It also gets your mind off of the stress going on in your life. Don’t wait to feel motivated since when you are feeling even slightly depressed, exercise may be the last thing you want to do. Set yourself up for success by putting out workout clothes and sneakers the night before.
- Connect with others. Talking about how you are feeling or just getting together with a friend for a good laugh or cry can really turn your mood around. Don’t be shy about asking for help. We all have days when we need someone to listen. A solution isn’t always necessary. Just having someone be there for you can help you feel better.
- Consume foods high in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are a form of dietary estrogen we get from food. These can help balance out the decline in estrogen, ultimately helping with our mood. Always talk to your doctor about managing your hormone levels with your diet. Foods rich in phytoestrogens include: flaxseed. I eat each day two tablespoons of Spectrum Organic Ground Premium Flaxseed, soy, peaches, garlic, red wine, sesame seeds, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and kale.
- Reach out to your doctor. Talk to your doctor if you feel your mood is not improving or getting worse. Life can be stressful and overwhelming at times. It is okay to reach out for help.
Reach out to me if you would like to learn how I can help so you can thrive and not just survive in midlife!
I’m a registered nurse for over 24 years with a Masters Degree in Nursing (Education). I am also a Certified Women’s Health Coach specializing in helping women navigate changing hormones in their 30s and beyond after my own difficult experience through menopause. I believe women should truly thrive in midlife and not just survive!