Social media. Shopping. Procrastination. More shopping.
There are many ways to get that satisfying ping of dopamine, but not all of them are healthy.
What is Dopamine? Dopamine, a neurotransmitter made in your brain, stars as the “reward center” and orchestrates memory, movement, motivation, mood, attention, and more. When you experience pleasure—food, sex, check off a to-do—your brain releases dopamine in large amounts, creating oh-so-good feelings, which motivate you to repeat a specific behavior.
Think of it like this:
When you eat something super sugary like a donut, your blood sugar levels spike quickly and then crash. Activities can act as the dopamine equivalent of eating a donut by causing dopamine to rapidly increase and then plummet just as fast.
Repeatedly experiencing these highs and lows can lead to addiction, depression, and anxiety.
Ofc, there’s a time and place for some “dopamine donuts,” but it’s important to focus on healthy dopamine hits. These highs come from doing things that cause dopamine to rise slowly and remain elevated for some time.
How to hack a healthier dopamine high:
- Eat foods high in dopamine building blocks, like chicken and avocados.
- Listen to music.
- Get some sunshine (but please remember to wear SPF).
- Take a cold shower, or do a cold plunge.
- Try something new.
- Exercise (this can even protect our dopamine receptors as we get older).
- Check something off a list.
- Play with your pet.
- Carry out acts of kindness.
- Get enough Zzzs.
- Meditate: New research has found that the improved mental and physical health benefits that meditation brings maybe thanks to increased dopamine levels in the brain. One study in particular found a 65% increase in dopamine production in its participants after meditating for one hour, compared with resting quietly.
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