(This is part-one of a three-part blog series on dopamine fasting and recovery techniques).
Have you ever had a habit that you wish you could break, but just could not seem to find a way out of it? Sometimes bad habits can be a minor nuisance, but some behaviors can develop an addictive quality that prevents us from being productive and realizing our full potential. Taken to the extreme, these habits can negatively impact our ability to be social, ruin our professional ambitions, and keep us enslaved to meaningless life-wasting activities.
So, what is dopamine?
Dopamine is essentially a reward chemical. It is a neurotransmitter that tells our brain that we are being rewarded for the activity that we are engaging in. Evolutionarily, dopamine is meant to act as a means of positive re-enforcement – but in the modern age of instant gratification and cheap excess, constantly chasing a dopamine high has become a hindrance to people’s development and life goals.
In the modern world, there are many stimuli that provide quick and sustained dopamine hits. Smartphone usage, playing video games, looking at pornography, and social media are just a few of the most common highs that we chase.
Natural dopamine release from pleasurable activities like eating a delicious meal is strongest when we first engage in the activity but will tend to wane the longer it goes on. At some point we are full, and we want to find another source of stimulation.
However, modern addictive activities like those previously mentioned introduce new stimuli consistently, which keeps us hooked without ever wanting to do something new. Our brains are tricked into thinking that we are doing something good and meaningful…
Things that you once enjoyed are no longer exciting when compared to the new addictive activity.
So… what’s the solution?
Simply, we need to reset our brains. By reducing the frequency in which we engage in these damaging behaviors, we can retrain our brains to recognize NORMAL levels of dopamine stimulation. Doing so will increase the number of dopamine neuroreceptors in a process called up-regulation – the result is that we will be more sensitive to natural levels of dopamine stimulus.
We can return to enjoying things that we used to without the excessive craving for more.
The concept of Dopamine fasting is incredibly simple, but in practice it can be extremely challenging.
In our next two articles, we will cover scientifically proven techniques rooted in physiological and cognitive research to help you successfully break your dopamine addictions and restore your motivation.
Do you have any addictions or addictive behaviors that you would like to get rid of? Click the title of this article and leave a comment – share your story! You are not alone.