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What is Serotonin? Habit Tracking for Well-Being and Self-Care

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating mood, appetite, sleep, and other bodily functions. It is commonly referred to as the "feel-good" hormone, as it contributes to feelings of happiness, contentment, and well-being.

What is serotonin?

When serotonin levels are low, it can lead to a variety of issues, including depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Therefore, it is essential to take care of your serotonin levels to maintain good mental and physical health.

One way to improve your serotonin levels is through habit tracking. Habit tracking is a simple yet powerful tool that can help you develop healthy habits that support your well-being and self-care.

To get started with habit tracking, you first need to identify the habits that you want to develop. These can be anything from exercising regularly to eating a healthy diet to getting enough sleep. Once you have identified your habits, you can start tracking them using a habit tracker, such as a journal or an app.

Tracking your habits allows you to see your progress and identify areas where you may need to improve. It also helps you stay accountable and motivated, as you can see how your efforts are contributing to your overall well-being.

Habits that Increases Serotonin

When it comes to improving your serotonin levels, some habits that can help include:

  1. Exercising regularly: Exercise has been shown to increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can lead to feelings of happiness and well-being.

  2. Eating a healthy diet: Eating a diet rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, can help support your overall health and improve your serotonin levels.

  3. Practicing mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help reduce stress and improve your mood, which can in turn improve your serotonin levels.

  4. Getting enough sleep: Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, and it also plays a role in regulating serotonin levels in the brain.

Habit Tracking for well-being and self-care

What is Serotonin?

  • Serotonin is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the body.

  • It is often referred to as the "happy hormone" because it contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being.

  • Serotonin plays a crucial role in regulating mood, appetite, digestion, sleep, and other bodily functions.

  • It is involved in the regulation of several mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  • Serotonin is produced in the brain and other parts of the body, such as the gut, and is affected by diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors.

What does serotonin do?

Serotonin plays a crucial role in regulating;

  • Mood

  • Appetite

  • Sleep

Helps to transmit signals between nerve cells and is involved in the regulation of emotions, cognition, and behavior.

Low levels of serotonin have been associated with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. In addition to its effects on mood, serotonin also plays a role in gastrointestinal function, blood clotting, and cardiovascular function. Overall, serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that has a significant impact on many aspects of our physical and mental health.

Serotonin vs Dopamine

Serotonin and dopamine are both neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in our overall well-being. Although they are often grouped together, they differ in terms of their functions and the effects they have on our bodies.

Serotonin vs. Dopamine

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is produced primarily in the gastrointestinal tract and brainstem. It plays a key role in regulating mood, appetite, and sleep, as well as controlling our body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Serotonin helps to regulate our emotional responses to external stimuli, and when we have low levels of serotonin, we may experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

Dopamine, on the other hand, is primarily produced in the substantia nigra, a small area of the brain, and is responsible for regulating our reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine is released when we engage in pleasurable activities such as eating, exercising, or socializing, and it helps to reinforce positive behaviors. Low levels of dopamine can result in a lack of motivation, decreased pleasure, and a reduced ability to experience joy and happiness.

Another key difference between the two neurotransmitters is their method of action. Serotonin acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning that it slows down the activity of the neurons it is interacting with. Dopamine, on the other hand, is an excitatory neurotransmitter, meaning that it increases the activity of the neurons it is interacting with.

While both serotonin and dopamine play a crucial role in our overall well-being, they have different effects on our bodies and minds. Serotonin is primarily responsible for regulating mood, appetite, and sleep, while dopamine is responsible for regulating our reward and pleasure centers. Understanding the differences between the two can help us better understand our emotions and behaviors, and may even help us identify ways to improve our overall well-being.

7 Ways to Boost Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurochemical produced by the body, responsible for feelings of cheerfulness, happiness, and well-being. It plays a vital role in stabilizing mood, maintaining focus, and promoting calmness. Low levels of serotonin can lead to irritability, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, impulsive cravings, disrupted sleep, and digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome. Fortunately, there are natural and simple ways to boost serotonin levels, including taking supplements containing L-tryptophan, being exposed to sunlight, consuming prebiotic-rich foods, exercising, and avoiding frequent snacking. These methods activate EC cells in the gut and help to maintain a healthy balance of brain chemistry, thereby improving mood, memory, and overall well-being.

  1. Increase daily exposure to sunlight by at least 45 minutes.

  2. Incorporate probiotic and prebiotic foods into your diet.

  3. Engage in aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes, twice a week.

  4. Increase insulin sensitivity and facilitate the transportation of tryptophan by avoiding snacking.

  5. Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety levels..

  6. Optimize sleep quality by establishing a consistent bedtime routine and turning off all devices and sources of light.

  7. Journal: Reflect on and record moments of happiness from your life.

Daily Exposure to Sunlight

There are several ways to increase daily exposure to sunlight, such as:

  1. Going for a walk or run outside during the day.

  2. Sitting near a window while working or studying.

  3. Taking breaks outside during work or school hours.

  4. Eating lunch outside or in a sunny spot indoors.

  5. Participating in outdoor activities such as gardening, sports, or hiking.

  6. Choosing outdoor seating at restaurants or cafes.

  7. Planning weekend activities that involve being outdoors.

  8. Investing in light therapy lamps for the home or office.

  9. Adjusting curtains or blinds to let more natural light in.

  10. Waking up earlier to take advantage of morning sunlight.

Probiotic and Prebiotic foods

Some examples of probiotic foods are:

  • Yogurt

  • Kefir

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Miso

  • Tempeh

  • Kombucha

Some examples of prebiotic foods are:

  • Garlic

  • Onion

  • Leek

  • Asparagus

  • Bananas

  • Oats

  • Apples

  • Chicory root

  • Jerusalem artichoke

Aerobic Exercise

Here are some examples of aerobic exercises:

  1. Brisk walking

  2. Running or jogging

  3. Cycling

  4. Swimming

  5. Dancing

  6. Jumping rope

  7. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

  8. Cross-country skiing

  9. Rowing

  10. Cardio kickboxing

Avoid Snacking

Here are some tips to avoid snacking:

  1. Eat filling meals: Make sure your meals are balanced with protein, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you feeling full and satisfied.

  2. Drink plenty of water: Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger, so it's important to stay hydrated throughout the day.

  3. Have healthy snacks on hand: If you do feel the need to snack, make sure you have healthy options available such as fruits, veggies, nuts, or seeds.

  4. Keep busy: Often we snack out of boredom, so find activities that keep you engaged and occupied.

  5. Avoid trigger foods: If you know certain foods trigger your snacking habits, try to avoid keeping them in the house.

  6. Practice mindful eating: Take the time to savor and enjoy your meals, focusing on the flavors and textures, instead of mindlessly snacking.

Meditation, Deep breathing, and Yoga

To incorporate meditation, deep breathing, and yoga into a daily routine, a person can follow these steps:

  1. Start small: Begin with just a few minutes each day, and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable.

  2. Schedule it: Set a specific time each day for your practice, and make it a priority.

  3. Find a quiet space: Choose a quiet, calm place to practice where you won't be disturbed.

  4. Use guided meditations or videos: There are many apps and videos available that can guide you through your practice.

  5. Take a class: Attend a yoga or meditation class to learn new techniques and get feedback from an instructor.

  6. Practice mindfulness throughout the day: Incorporate mindfulness into everyday activities, such as walking or eating, by paying attention to your breath and surroundings.

By incorporating these practices into a daily routine, a person can experience the benefits of meditation, deep breathing, and yoga, such as reduced stress and improved focus and concentration.

Bedtime Routine

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine and turning off all devices and sources of light can help optimize sleep quality in the following ways:

  1. Set a regular sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps regulate the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, improving sleep quality and reducing the risk of sleep disturbances.

  2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Engaging in relaxing activities such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing can help calm the mind and prepare the body for sleep.

  3. Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime: Activities like watching TV, using electronic devices, or exercising can stimulate the brain and make it harder to fall asleep. Avoiding these activities at least an hour before bedtime can help improve sleep quality.

  4. Create a sleep-conducive environment: Keeping the bedroom quiet, cool, and dark can promote restful sleep. Using blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine can help block out external noise and light.

  5. Avoid consuming stimulants before bedtime: Consuming caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol before bedtime can disrupt sleep and reduce sleep quality. It's best to avoid these substances at least a few hours before bedtime.

By incorporating these habits into a daily routine, individuals can optimize their sleep quality and improve overall health and well-being.


There are many tools available to help with journaling. Here are some examples:

  1. Pen and paper: A classic and simple way to journal.

  2. Journaling apps: There are many apps available for journaling, such as Day One, Journey, and Penzu.

  3. Bullet journals: A specific type of journal that uses bullet points and symbols to organize thoughts and tasks.

  4. Online journaling websites: Some websites, like, provide a platform for online journaling.

  5. Voice recording apps: For those who prefer speaking to writing, there are apps like that transcribe voice recordings into text.

  6. Gratitude journals: Journals that focus specifically on writing down things you are grateful for, such as The Five Minute Journal.

  7. Creative journals: Some people prefer to express themselves through drawing, collage, or other forms of art. Creative journals allow for this type of expression.

In conclusion, serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that contributes to our overall well-being and happiness. By developing healthy habits and tracking them regularly, we can improve our serotonin levels and support our mental and physical health. So start habit tracking today, and prioritize your well-being and self-care!

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