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What Makes You Feel Good/ What Makes You Feel Bad
by Susan Dunn

Emotional Intelligence is all about self-awareness, understanding how emotions work within you and others. Our feelings are regulated by neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Here are some things to know about serotonin, called the “feel good” neurotransmitter.

Research indicates that low levels of serotonin in the brain can lead to the underlying inability to handle powerful feelings which can results in impulsive acts, aggressive behaviors, poor judgment, and self-destructive tendencies. According to the Society for Neuroscience, in experiments, monkeys with less serotonin are the ones who take daring jumps from the trees and injure themselves. Rats low in serotonin do risky things in experiments, and also accept small immediate rewards instead of waiting for a bigger prize.

Restoring levels of serotonin in the body relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to Carolyn Meltzer, MD, serotonin receptors decrease significantly with age, up to 55%, so as you age, keep this in mind.

How do we get more serotonin or use what we have better? According to Dr. Allan Lieberman, MC, FAAEM, vitamin B6 and magnesium can elevate it. Some natural sources are bananas, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, tomatoes, plums, avocadoes, pineapple, eggplant and walnuts.

Antidepressants work with the serotonin you produce; they don’t make more of it. Your body produces serotonin through L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan is present in pork, duck and turkey. According to Harvard psychiatrist Joseph Glenmullen, author of “Prozac Backlash,” it can also be enhanced by talk therapy and by aerobic exercise such as jogging or dance.

Touch also increases serotonin during massage and decreases pain levels, improves sleep patterns, decreases fatigue, anxiety, depression and cortisol levels in fibromyalgia patients, according to the International Journal of Neurology.

Another important source of serotonin can be increased light. Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., National Institute of Mental Health, feels that the intensity of the light is what counts, not the spectrum. However full-spectrum light used in the poultry industry causes chickens to live twice as long, be calmer and less aggressive, and produce eggs 25% lower in cholesterol. Apparently, even human cholesterol levels drop when people are exposed to sunlight.

Non-full-spectrum lighting, which is often used in work places, has been shown to create hormones ACTH and cortisol in levels considered stressful.

Being around water can help some people feel better. Research has shown that a cruise can be beneficial to your wellness.

In summary, part of emotional self-awareness means becoming aware of what physical factors innate to you enhance your mood – the foods you eat, the chemicals you put into your body, the exercise you get or don’t get, and your surroundings.

For more on depression see holisticonline.com depression infocenter

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, GLOBAL EQ. Emotional intelligence coaching to enhance all areas of your life - career, relationships, midlife transition, resilience, self-esteem, parenting. She is the author of numerous ebooks, is widely published on the Internet, and a regular speaker for cruise lines.

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