Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that helps control how we feel pleasure. It’s released when we get something we want — whether it’s a new car or a new follower on Instagram.
The problem with dopamine is that it gets us hooked on things that give us short-term gratification but not much else: cookies, alcohol and social media are all high in dopamine. We call it dopamine addiction, even though you can not get rid of dopamine.
Our brains naturally want more of what makes us feel good (not just once but over and over again). As a result, we often find ourselves stuck at things that we don’t find productive at all, like scrolling through social media. While it gives us temporary pleasure, we time to time end up reflecting on our life choices.
But don’t worry — there is hope! With some simple changes to your daily routine, you can reset your brain back, without feeling bored or deprived. These changes will make you healthier and happier than ever before! So let’s take a look at ways this powerful chemical affects our lives…
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter: a chemical that transmits signals from one nerve cell to another. In other words, dopamine is the brain’s reward system—the brain releases dopamine when you do something that feels good or rewarding. And it’s not just pleasure that can trigger this release. Anything you find pleasing will cause your dopamine levels to go up — eating chocolate, having sex, completing a project at work…
The problem with this? Your brain has evolved over millions of years to help keep you alive by rewarding behavior that promotes survival. But today’s world doesn’t always conform to the same rules as nature did in the past. For example: working hard isn’t always necessarily conducive to survival in modern society (you could get fired for being too productive!).
Your brain releases dopamine every time you like a photo or log on to Facebook. If you do this, instead of doing your task at work… well… things get out of whack pretty quickly! Maybe you need to think about dopamine reset.
You probably have a very clear picture in your mind of what that feels like when you scroll through social media. You’ve been there, done that. Many times. It feels great, right?
Your brain releases dopamine when it sees something attractive — and social media are designed to keep you coming back for more of that feeling. In the same way slot machines are designed to keep you playing until you run out of coins. Social media apps are designed to keep you scrolling until you run out of time or energy.
And if those aren’t enough reasons for you not to spend hours on Facebook each week (or Instagram or Twitter or Reddit — pick your poison), let me give one more. Research shows that spending too much time on social media can cause negative effects on your mental health over time — from depression and anxiety to suicide.
Let’s keep it simple: life on social media is just fake. We are constantly flooded with people doing things we wish we could but have no money for, or with bad news, a certain political option, tragedies… It just can’t be healthy.
So what’s the big deal? After all, dopamine is just a chemical that makes us feel good when we complete a task or achieve something important to us. It’s not addictive; we’re not going to get hooked on it the way some people become addicted to drugs or alcohol.
The problem is that dopamine’s effect on our motivation doesn’t end there. When we feel good about completing something, our brain wants more of that feeling — and it wants it now! Dopamine fires up your motivation so strongly that you’ll start trying to repeat your success without thinking about whether it worked for you before.
That’s why urges are so powerful: they don’t come down from within yourself; they’re externally induced by an outside source (like a smartphone game or social media platform). The more dopamine you produce in response to these urgings, the stronger your future urges will be… until eventually they take over every aspect of your life and leave no room for anything else except getting those next hits.
To reset your brain back to normal levels, you’ll need to cut out all unnecessary dopamine triggers. This means no more browsing Facebook, mindless scrolling through Twitter or Instagram, mindless browsing online shopping sites, and no more clicking on anything that catches your eye on Tumblr or Reddit (this one might be the hardest). The first few days of dopamine addiction reset are tough — I know because I had to do this myself — but it gets easier after a while.
Once you feel like your willpower has been restored by avoiding these kinds of activities for a couple of weeks straight (or however long it takes), you can start introducing them back into your life again in moderation and see how they affect you now that they aren’t so overstimulating.
You’ll feel that instead of hours spent on dopamine source, you only need 15 minutes to feel satisfied. That’s the moment when you should put hard limits on yourself. The target is to gain from your online activities, not to drop them altogether. You can have designated time for social media and stay incredibly productive.
You can reset the brain and regain your focus by:
If you’re feeling like your productivity is suffering, don’t panic. Just remember that there are ways to fix this problem. By taking a close look at how dopamine is affecting your life and trying some of the tips above, it should be much easier (and faster!) to get back on track.
Do you need dopamine detox? You’ll still be able to access them when you need them. Just don’t make them part of your daily routine until they become more useful in helping you achieve what matters most to you!
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