We are living in a time with constant distractions and exciting things to waste our time on. In the past few years, things have changed for the worse and we have become so custom to never being bored, never looking at interesting things to do to be happier and calmer. Especially in the last 3 years, digitalization has become a big part of our life where our phones are constantly with us, whether we are in the kitchen, in bed, outside with friends sitting in a coffee shop, we are constantly looking for the rush in our brain to give us at least a bit of satisfaction in our daily life. Have you ever been out in a coffee shop looked around? All you see is in that moment is so many people just mindlessly scrolling through Social Media, you can see their thumb going from the bottom to the top of their phone and if you notice the posture they are in, their minds are so wired to the phone that they are experiencing anxiety attacks and sadness by the way they look at their screen. This is called the **dopamine rush** and it drains them. In this article we will explore 5 habits to boost your dopamine levels.
We live in a time where we open Instagram and just with 3 taps on someone’s Stories, you can experience 3 different types of emotions: excitement if someone has graduated college, sadness if someone’s family member has passed away, and happiness if your friend just got a baby or got engaged. This is in the length of no more than 8 seconds. This constant need to check our phone for messages, likes and comments is what we look for to feel a little better – our addiction to dopamine.
But what can you do to ensure you have healthy levels of dopamine and create peacefulness in your life? What are the things we need to get rid of to create the future we want? Let’s talk about it all! Here are my 5 ways to boost your dopamine and improve your energy:
1. Start Exercising
This can be in any form of exercise, it doesn’t necessary mean that you need to do a 5K run everyday to feel good, even if you go for a walk every morning for half an hour, it will help you boost your dopamine level by moving your body and you instantly feel better.
Exercising is also recommended for increasing your endorphin levels and improving your mood throughout the day. Consistent exercise has the ability to completely rewire your brain’s reward system and increase the number of dopamine receptors to continue to reward your brain.
Whatever it makes you move your body, do it whether that’s a walk, working out in the gym, taking your dog out, stretching or yoga. The one great thing about exercising is if you start your day with half an hour in the gym and you push your body to the limits, every roadblock you get in your day is almost meaningless when you already finished a tough workout. Not only that exercising keep your mind healthy, & boost your dopamine levels, but it’s also proven to keep you younger because exercising and in particular – going to the gym and lifting weights tears up your muscles and creates a new tissue, which prevents atrophy and makes your joints stronger keeping you younger looking and more energetic, and boost your dopamine.
2. Reduce your Screen Time
In our daily life, we are constantly presented with opportunities to be in front of a screen. Your phone screen in particular is the worst because you are too close to it and most of the time, we either watch videos, look through social media, check on people’s Instagram Stories, Twitter news and looking at comments on a particular post – this was especially me until I realized I was spending 3 hours of my day on social media and I didn’t remember anything I have seen in just a day, which meant it was absolutely pointless. using excessive social media triggers the brain’s reward system and releases dopamine which is why people find srolling through social media to be so addictive and we can’t seem to get out of it once we start. Thing about online casinos, they are all based on dopamine and addiction, the way they are made, their main goal is to keep you as long as possible on them, so they combine engaging and colorful to keep you wanting that reward constantly so you are wired to your screen and the worse – spending your money on it. This algorithmic phenomnenon has it’s own name – neuromarketing, which stands for marketing based of your brain chemicals to make you more and more engaged.
Reducing overall screen time can get you out of this vicious circle. It’s common for everyone to miss screen time and be on our phones. Think about what you would say if you are on your dead bed, nobody ever said – I wish I spend more time on my phone.
But of course, we can’t entirely quit using our phones, because they help us connect with family and friends, so a more balanced approach is required for you to have healthy dopamine levels. Check your phone 5 times a day (of course always keep it for calls), or create a rule when you open a social media app to stay on it for only 3 minutes and close it.
When you constantly keep reminding yourself about staying away from your screen and make your wellbeing a priority, you will see how it will change your days and it will have a long-lasting positive effect on your memory, happiness and peacefulness throughout the day which will let you focus on the things that matter in your life – developing, learning new things, growing financially and have a healthy relationship with your family. You will then completely redesign your days and take away from your screen time, it can be reading books, writing or anything that grabs your interest.
3. Maintain and Improve your Diet
Keeping a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be any strict or a daunting task. You can simply look at what you eat to ensure you get more nutrients into your diet. It is scientifically proven that a healthy diet increases your protein levels, which then help fuel your brain and make you less anxious and happier. This habit is directly co-related with the previous habit, because when you start exercising, your body will automatically want to consume healthier foods. Nobody goes back from a workout and craves a bag of chips (crisps) – well at least not you. Right? Or maybe you do, but regardless, consuming junk food drains your energy and can put you off from staying calm and productive in your day.
I started getting my dopamine from foods that were healthy and have more protein. Avocados, Ribeye steak and asparagus were my go-to to feel better. Exercising and complimenting it with great and healthy foods completely changed my mood, made me more focus and gave me the healthy dopamine I was needing. With this, my confidence also improved, because the better I feel, the more confident I am.
It is ok to do a trip to Five Guys once in a while, because otherwise our life will be too boring or having your favorite milkshake or a piece of cheesecake. The vicious circle is in the repetition of these foods on frequent basis and make you feel miserable.
4. Use any form of meditation
Meditation is the practice of clearing your mind, creating a focus in your brain and feel present. It helps you detach from your day-to-day activities and get you in touch with your inner self.
When you think about meditation, you are probably thinking that it has to be this spiritual thing where you sit in a dark room by yourself, but it’s not that complicated. All you need is to sit still on your office chair, laying, standing or even walking. A regular practice of meditation is proven to improve your mental and physical health.
A study was recently done by a group of scholars, which found that medication increases your dopamine levels significantly and creates an induced change of consciousness in order to feel more present and happier.
You can start small by meditating for 5 minutes a day and then gradually increase it to 10-15 minutes whenever you have time so it doesn’t have to be a chore. This will help you to boost your dopamine levels.
Medication increases dopamine levels in the brains of people who regularly meditate, but still is yet to be discovered if these effects also occur to those that are just starting meditation.
I personally find it hard to meditate, and it’s not one of the things I do regularly.
5. Fix Your Sleep Schedule
Sleep plays the biggest role and has a long lasting effect on how we feel during our day. There is nothing more important than a healthy sleep schedule. I’ve never had a good sleeping schedule during college or when I started working, but slowly I’ve learned the importance of sleep the hard way.
First, I used to wake up multiple times a night, then I realized my bed wasn’t as comfortable, so I prioritized my sleep and made sure that when I go to bed, I create an environment that will help me fall asleep. I noticed this pattern a long time ago whenever I slept well, I felt better, happier and energetic throughout my day.
In order to have a healthy sleep, I created a routine, by turning the lights down 1 hour before going to bed and journaling regularly. After going to bed, no electronics are allowed except my Kindle. Not going on your phone before you go to sleep is proven to reduce the amount of blue light, which helps to calm you and put you to sleep faster.
Not getting enough sleep is celebrated a lot in this hustle mentality, but I would definitely advise you to consider having a set sleeping schedule. If you really want to track your sleep schedule, consider downloading a free app called Sleep Cycle. I have been using it for 2 weeks now and it’s great in telling you if you have been awake throughout the night.
When people are working night-shifts and need to stay active, the dopamine receptors in their brains are significantly reduced by the next morning, because not only that people are not supposed to be active at night, but also the lack of sun light and Vitamin D has an affect on their energy levels and focus.
Having a good night sleep makes all the difference so I always encourage focusing on a healthy sleeping pattern.
Creating a schedule for yourself, exercising, being disciplined and maintaining a healthy diet are only some of the important habits we should take to boost your dopamine. We should not only try to create those habits for ourselves, but stick to them in order to have a long-term impact on our mental health and happiness.
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