Dopamine is important. It plays an essential role in your mental health, energy, and your body in general. If you’re dealing with a lack of motivation or struggling to summon up enough energy to get through your day, a surge of dopamine will help. In fact, dopamine can help with a lot of things. For example, dopamine is an asset if you feel like you’ve lost your lust for life. Have you been feeling easily distracted or unable to focus? Are you having a tough time finishing simple tasks? These are all signs of reduced dopamine – and a surge of dopamine may help. In this article we’ll explore dopamine and the natural ways you can increase it. We’ll also discuss what happens when you use substances to inflate dopamine – plus, we’ll touch upon the natural ways you can increase dopamine after substance addiction. So, what is dopamine, and why does it matter so much?
What Is Dopamine?
As humans, our brains are reliant on internal communication. When we need to move an arm or a leg, the brain’s neurons are what’s communicating in order for us to do that. We have a bunch of neurotransmitters in our noggins – 86 billion to be exact. Dopamine is one such neurotransmitter that accounts for a small portion of the full total. Dopamine is important because it keeps us motivated, focused, and mentally healthy. We all get acquainted with our dopamine levels through the completion of tasks and through exercise. When you’ve finished something all of a sudden you’re flushed with a sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. The same happens with exercise and sports. Exercise is one of the natural ways you can improve your dopamine levels. New things are also good for dopamine. When you try out something new at home or at work, there’s a sudden flood of feel-good energy.
What Is Dopamine Deficiency?
While there are many good things about dopamine, a dopamine deficiency is never good. It can lead to imbalance, and the following:
- Lack of focus
- Lack of energy
- Lack of creativity
- Lack of motivation
- Tiredness or Insomnia
- Loss of memory/forgetfulness
- Trouble concentrating
- Sugar cravings
- Negative behaviors
- Unhealthy behaviors
- Risky behaviors
A dopamine deficiency manifests in different ways, for different people. The sad truth is, most of the things people do to fix their dopamine issues wind up backfiring, causing more harm than they originally had. The best way to think about it is to imagine a big platter filled to the edges with sugar-stuffed snacks. Imagine all of those fats and calories. While donuts and pastries sound (and look) good at the time, in the end they cause headaches, anxiety, etc. – and they can even be addictive. The same is true with caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. While eating a plateful of donuts triggers a short term dopamine boost, the long-term issues that stem from eating this way are never good. Synthetic (fake) dopamine boosters like alcohol and donuts interfere with the body’s natural process for increasing dopamine.
How Do You Increase Dopamine After Addiction?
An increase in dopamine leads to the sensations of reward and pleasure. What happens with addiction is, experiencing these feelings becomes addictive – you want to do it more and more. You’re motivated to repeat the behaviors that essentially delivered more dopamine to your brain.
When you take substances like heroin, cocaine, and alcohol, they increase your dopamine levels. Soon you’ll feel encouraged to take more drugs in order to obtain more of the same feeling. The problem is, you’ll need more and more to feel the same flood of dopamine. This also affects the brain in another way, it stops your body from naturally producing dopamine. The more of the drug you take, the more your dopamine receptors don’t get to produce naturally. As a result, there’s no feeling attached to the joy of everyday experiences. Instead, it becomes about constantly seeking a more intense and more unnatural (therefore unhealthy) high.
What Are The BEST Ways to Naturally Increase Dopamine?
- Exercise everyday – at least 10 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise
- Eat right – plenty of fruits, vegetables, and proteins
- Take vitamins and supplements
- Make sleep a priority – Aim for 7 hours a night; get on a regular sleep schedule to cast away sleep problems like insomnia and/or intense lethargy
- Meditate daily – focusing inward helps you to declutter the mind and become more aware
- Go out and enjoy the sun – sun exposure is linked to a good mood!
- Laugh with friends and family
- Enjoy good music – listening to your favorite tunes stimulates the release of dopamine, naturally
- Enjoy regular massage and acupuncture – avoid stress and dedicate time to self-care
- Stay away from drugs, high-fat foods, and other things that suppress your body’s natural ability to produce dopamine
To Sum It All Up
Above we shared some tips on how to improve dopamine levels in your brain and body. It’s especially important to incorporate these tips into your daily routine when you stop using drugs or alcohol. Naturally increasing dopamine is about finding pleasure in normal and healthy activities. This can be difficult after prolonged periods of drug use and abuse, but once you get into the groove you’ll be unstoppable. If you’ve been addicted for a while, your brain will expect its usual flood of dopamine – but don’t give in. When you don’t have a substance flooding the receptors, your brain will struggle to normalize. This can all be expected. Keep on flooding your brain with natural dopamine and keep working your program, soon you’ll be on your way to success.