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Stress Free Living: The Happiness Chemical
March 02, 2010

The Happiness Chemical: Serotonin

March 2010 - Issue #015: The Happiness Chemical

Welcome to the March 2010 issue of Stress Free Living! One of my favorite things about being a website owner is connecting with my visitors through this ezine. My hope is that it exceeds your expectations and includes lots of tips and information that you find helpful for your stress management journey. But to know that for sure, I need to hear from you! Don’t be afraid to contact me to let me know what you like or don’t like about this ezine as well as what you’d like to see in future issues. You can either reply directly to this email or fill out this survey to share your thoughts.

I hope you enjoy this issue of the Stress Free Living ezine!


“In the hopes of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.”
~ Albert Schweitzer

In This Issue...

1. Stress Hormones: Serotonin (the Happiness Chemical)

2. Tips and Reviews

3. In Case You Missed It

4. All About You

Welcome to the
Stress Free Living Ezine!

Stress Hormones: Serotonin (the Happiness Chemical)

So many different things happen within our bodies that affect our mood and our stress levels. It’s one of my goals to help you understand some of what is going on inside of your body that can help you better understand why you may be feeling a certain way. In this issue, I’m going to discuss what is commonly known as “the Happiness Chemical”…


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to send signals from one area of the brain to another. This hormone influences a wide range of brain cells including ones that are related to mood, sleep, appetite, and sexual desire to name a few. An imbalance in Serotonin is believed to contribute to depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorders, and even anger.

Why Serotonin is Good

Normal levels of Serotonin help to regulate our mood. It can help to create feelings of calmness and happiness. It can help to relieve depression and anxiety as well as help with sleep.

When our Serotonin levels are low, it can create feelings of being overwhelmed as well as problems with concentration and memory. Prolonged periods of serotonin deficiencies can also cause sleep problems, appetite abnormalities, loss of interest in activities we enjoy.

Why too much Serotonin is Bad

Having too much Serotonin creates something called Serotonin Syndrome or SS which can be life threatening. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Profuse Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Aggressiveness
  • Nausea
  • Chilling and Shivering
  • Over Confidence

Serotonin Syndrome is usually caused by an inadvertent combination of medications or an intentional overdose in anti-depressants which are usually developed to target serotonin.

To keep Serotonin at healthy levels, it’s important to learn how to manage your stress effectively and learn how to stimulate a relaxed response after a stressful event. During times of stress, more serotonin is used to help combat the symptoms and to help you stay calm, relaxed, and happy. During long periods of high stress, your serotonin levels can be depleted leaving you feeling tired and depressed among other things.

To avoid levels of Serotonin that are too high, be sure to know what medications you are taking and discuss their possible effects with your doctor. Do not try to increase your serotonin levels on your own. Generally speaking, your body will produce enough serotonin naturally through a normal diet and a healthy lifestyle. If you believe that you may need assistance increasing your serotonin levels, only do so with the assistance of your doctor.

Looking for ways to relieve stress to avoid depleting your Serotonin? Try listening to music. It’s a great way to relax and unwind after a stressful day.

Click here to learn more about how music can help you relieve stress.

Tips and Reviews

I recently received a message on Twitter from Costa Farms which I thought was worth passing on to you:

“Jill we’ve found that many people relive stress by planting a garden. Even if you live in a tight space, caring for plants is relaxing & fulfilling.”

I don’t have much of a green thumb, but I had heard before that gardening, planting, and caring for plants in general can bring happiness and stress relief. So thank you to Costa Farms for the great tip!

By the way, they have a very cool website that even contains an interactive tool that can help you discover the perfect plant for each room in your house! You can visit them at:

Product Review: Balance Ball Chair

If you’ve visited the home page of lately, you may have noticed this ad for Gaiam’s Balance Ball Chair…, Inc

Balance Balls are commonly used in exercise to help strengthen and tone among other things. It has also been discovered that they are excellent chairs as they can help to strengthen your core and improve your posture. They’re also great for people who have issues with back pain when sitting (as I do).

After seeing this odd looking wonder, I couldn’t resist… I had to purchase one for myself and try it out! Maintaining good posture and core strength can help you reduce pain do to stress and stiffness and can help you to breathe deeper and easier. I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk at work and at my desk at home and have struggled to find a good office chair, so I figured I’d give this a try.

When my Balance Ball Chair arrived, I was so excited and started putting it together right away. It comes with a manual air pump for the ball and was very easy to put together. Very easy. I really wanted purple, but I bought green because it would match my home office better. Down side: It smelled funny for the first few days due to the rubber in the ball.

After my first few hours of sitting on it, I could actually feel some soreness in my inner thighs… an area that is tough for many women to target. I didn’t expect that, but I thought… yippee! I haven’t really noticed that since, but maybe I’ve gotten used to it and so it’s not as much of a workout for me to remain balanced atop the chair as it must have been in the beginning.

Speaking of balancing atop the chair, it is quite comfortable… and even though I had some soreness in my inner thighs after using it, I never felt like I was “working out” while I was sitting on it. At first, you do have to get used to it and find your balance… but it’s not like you’re going to fall off or anything… unless you’re terribly clumsy or un-coordinated… which now that I think about it, if that’s the case I wonder why I haven’t fallen off yet?

So I guess maybe the safest thing to do is clear a path while you’re getting used to it in case you fall off. Although, that’s probably not necessary for the average person… I didn’t see that warning anywhere in the instructions.

In addition to the pump that comes with the chair, a user guide is also included which gives very specific instructions (with illustrations) on how you can use your Balance Ball Chair to exercise and stretch. Pretty cool.

Because I have a bad back, and because I know that I feel better mind and body when I exercise, I try to do it regularly. However, I have to do my exercising in the privacy of my own home when no one is around… I guess I’m afraid that I look silly. Anyway, something that I’ve learned is that if I don’t switch up my routines occasionally, not only do they seem to become less effective but they also become boring which increases the chance that I’ll skip my next workout. Not good.

So I’m intrigued by this Balance Ball I’m now sitting on… I’ve never really used one to “work-out” with and to be honest, I wouldn’t know how. Since Gaiam is one of my absolute favorite places to shop (because their products always exceed my expectations) I also ordered some work-out DVDs that are designed for the Balance Ball. As soon as they arrive and I’ve had a chance to try them out I’ll let you know what I think.

My verdict on the Balance Ball Chair: Totally Awesome.

Click here to get 20% Off Gaiam's Best Selling BalanceBall Chair.

In Case You Missed It...

Over the course of this year there will be a TON of new additions to the website. I’m working on adding a lot of new web pages filled with tons of helpful information and I’m also working on creating videos that will be featured on the site.

As a subscriber of this ezine, I always make sure that you stay up to date on all the latest additions to, but to make sure you don’t miss out on anything in between issues be sure to subscribe to the site to get all the latest up-to-date additions as they occur.

Click here for more information on how to subscribe to the site blog on

If you’re on Twitter, you can also stay up to date on the additions and changes as they happen by following me.

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All About You

I'd love to hear from You!

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Thank you for spending some time with me today, I hope you have enjoyed your copy of the Stress Free Living ezine. If there is something you'd like to see next month, please reply to this email and let me know!

Wishing you all the very best,

Helping you live a less stressful life.

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