How to supercharge your dopamine levels
Dopamine is the brain’s key chemical. There are many mental and physical functions related to this single neurotransmitter. If you learn to enhance your own dopamine levels naturally, you can overcome depression, anxiety, apathy, and fear, while boosting the feeling of pleasure that this neuron is capable of creating.
Dopamine is one of the chemicals in our brains that rewards certain behaviours in us, which is why certain drugs are addictive. Cocaine, heroin, and other opiates cause a dopamine “super reward” which makes their use extremely desirable until the dopamine crash follows once the illicit drug is removed from the body.
The opiates bind to opiate receptors in the brain, increasing dopamine release, but once these are gone, more opiates (or other drugs) are required to achieve the same level of dopamine release. Because of this, drug addicts resort to ever-increasing, negative behaviours in order to get their next “fix.” The dopamine high is that compelling.
Experiments conducted on mice found that when the same dopamine-producing nerve bundle was stimulated when they pressed a lever, the mice would press the lever thousands of times in an hour because the dopamine would cause them to feel pleasurable feelings. In a later experiment (conducted unethically on a human), a similar response was observed. During three hours, a person would press a button thousands of times to trigger a dopamine release for an immense emotional boost.
When we do less destructive activities – like making money, having sex, and winning a video game – our brains get little doses of dopamine. But there are dopamine-boosting activities that will boost our “pleasure” neurotransmitter without causing an addictive reaction.
The dopamine neurons in the brain are very small, making up less than 0.0006% of the brain’s neurons, but the nerves that link dopamine neurons with their targets in the forebrain can be stimulated.
You can boost your dopamine levels with some of these 100-percent-natural methods:
As a result of exercise, dopamine D2 receptors are elevated in the brain. Additionally, it increases serotonin and other endorphins in the body. In the same way that exercise strengthens the body, it can also help prevent depression, reduce stress, and strengthen the mind.
2. Check off the things you accomplish on your checklist
Every time we successfully accomplish a task, our brain releases a little dopamine. You can get even more dopamine “hits” if you break up big tasks into smaller steps and check them off one by one. The habit also tends to keep you moving towards your goals and clear your mind of mental clutter.
As part of the Principles of Self-Management, if a task represents a 25% change (or bigger) in your routine, you will feel disinclined to complete it and will often sabotage yourself or give up. On the other hand, making small changes (around 10%) keeps you moving in the right direction, and makes you happier.
3. Eat foods that increase dopamine
The amino acid tyrosine is a catalyst for the production of dopamine. You can naturally increase your dopamine levels by eating foods that contain tyrosine. You can find tyrosine in foods such as:
- Green tea
- Dark Chocolate
4. Lower Your Lipopolysaccharides
The word is a little big, but it is an endotoxin that makes your immune system go berserk. In addition, lipopolysaccharides inhibit the production of dopamine. When you eat foods that protect your gut, such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and take probiotics, you lower lipopolysaccharides, allowing dopamine to be produced easily.
On the subject of toxins, it is important to regularly detox. Having too many toxins in your body can prevent dopamine from being produced. Detoxing can be done in many ways, from green juices to activated charcoal to yogic master cleansing. You can get more super-charged dopamine levels if you are less toxic.
6. Take time out to listen to upbeat music
Music is one of the easiest and quickest ways to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Music has been helping people feel uplifted since Paleolithic times by creating “peak emotional moments.” Music connects us with our emotions by making our brains “sing.” It’s tried and true.
7. Be Creative
No matter how you express your creativity, whether you create arts and crafts or compose a symphony, all creative activities increase levels of dopamine. Learn to dance, take figure drawing classes, write a poem, make something new, or even get creative while auto-repairing, and you’ll be rewarded with increased dopamine levels.
8. Put a positive spin on things
Dopamine is not only increased by this behaviour, but it is also a foundation for creating new, positive habits. Make a calendar or tear sheet with all the new things you do (such as reusing your plastic or giving up soda). See how long you can keep the streak going.
Supplements can also raise dopamine levels. Try:
- Dopamine, among other neurotransmitters, is increased by L-theanine. This plant compound is abundant in green tea.
- Curcumin, a naturally occurring compound in turmeric, boosts dopamine levels in the brain.
- Ginkgo Biloba can also increase dopamine levels.
- A healthy amount of acetyl-l-tyrosine helps the brain produce dopamine.
During meditation, brain mechanisms can be altered to allow bigger dopamine dumps. The rise in GABA and dopamine in consistent meditators is one of the reasons they cope with stress better and usually feel better. Meditation also frees us from the conditioned neural pathways that inhibit the release of dopamine and other feel-good neurotransmitters.
Dopamine is more than merely a mood booster.
It also helps regulate our muscle movement, improves our cognitive function, keeps us focused, helps us make decisions, evaluate problems, and regulates the secretion of prolactin.
Undoubtedly, dopamine is crucial to our wellbeing and happiness. The lack of dopamine can lead to depression, sadness, confusion, fear, negative thinking and rumination, among other emotional obstacles.