We’re stressed, we’re overworked, we’re lonely, we have no tolerance for boredom anymore. We’ve lost control of our actions.
We’re addicted to our phones.
Dopamine is a brain chemical linked to euphoria and wanting.
Advertising, social media and junk food, overstimulate and manipulate these emotions and therefore, our dopamine levels.
It’s about what we put into our eyes, our ears and our mouth.
We receive constant hits of dopamine when we scroll through social media,
get notifications on our phone, browse shopping and porn sites.
Even more hits of dopamine when we order and eat fast food, take drugs and gamble.
The Catalyst for Addiction
All these hits of dopamine have a negative effect on our well-being. They are a fundamental part of addictive behaviours. Studies have shown that all this ‘on-demand’ dopamine actually reduces the number of dopamine receptors in our brain. And we keep going back for more.
Because of these habits, our brains need a higher level of stimulation than normal in our real world to experience happiness and satisfaction.
We waste hours of our time, we feel guilty that our days haven’t been productive,
we become de-sensitised to things in our real life.
It’s about reducing addictive behaviours which have a negative impact on your life. It’s about resetting your brain.
Being able to regain control over our behaviour opens doors for a more meaningful life.
Dopamine fasting has been found in studies to restore our motivation, increase happiness, and reduce addictive and impulsive behaviours.
Dopamine fasting increases the up-regulation of dopamine receptors in our brain. The more receptors you have, the less stimuli needed to get the same amount of pleasure.
For example, if you give up eating carb-filled takeaways for a month, you could get the same amount of pleasure from eating a jacket potato.
Identify your negative behaviours
Dopamine Fasting can be done in whatever capacity you choose,
but the first step is to identify which addictive behaviours are having a negative impact on your life and relationships.
Dip a toe in
Identify a barrier to your productivity, relationships or mental health. Then remove it. If you’re not ready for anything long-term, try it for a day. I’m using the example of social media, because for most people it’s a massive barrier to different aspects of life. Constant notifications, group chats, aimless browsing. Below is an example strategy you could use, but similar principals can be applied to any addiction:
– Make a schedule – start small and increase. One hour of social media per day.
– Be mindful. Recognise when you are engaging with your phone and stop yourself.
– Change your routine. Don’t browse social media in a morning or whenever your peak time is.
– Tell people what you’re doing and ask for support.
– Replace your cravings – start other activities. Thirty star jumps. Anything.
– Switch off your phone or put it on silet.
– Deactivate notifications from all social media platforms.
– Put your phone in another room and forget about it.
…and remember to Surf The Urge!
Watch the urge to engage with that activity happen. Because it will. Accept that your craving is there, and allow it to pass, because it will.
A hardcore Dopamine Fast is a lot more restrictive.
It involves switching off all things artificial from your environment. So that’s no: TV, laptop, phone, radio, junk food, books, magazines. Yikes. But I tried it for 24 hours, it was weird but incredible.
Get involved. Personal journeys with Dopamine Fasting or addiction welcome, shout out.