Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating the reward system in the brain by making us feel pleasure. The smell of cookies baking in the oven or spending time shopping can trigger a dopamine rush.
This neurotransmitter plays a role in reinforcement as well. That’s why, after trying something that triggers dopamine release, we are compelled to try it again. The biggest downside to dopamine is the possibility of addiction, especially to substances like heroin and cocaine.
The production of dopamine can be excessive or deficient, which can lead to mental health conditions. An overload of stimuli can result in these disorders, leading to addictions to certain substances and activities.
The body naturally produces dopamine, a chemical messenger that influences many physical and behavioral functions. These include our learning ability, our motivation, our sleep patterns, mood swings, and even our attention span. Therefore, it is important to keep our dopamine levels balanced.
Below are thirteen natural ways to balance your dopamine levels:
Dopamine plays a prominent role in addiction and pleasure. When dopamine is over-activated, people with substance usage may become addicted to it.
Drugs, sex, and sugary food are all addictions caused by dopamine. When addictive substances overload the brain with dopamine, its receptors become desensitized. Then more and more dopamine is required to produce the same feeling. Withholding the addictive substance completely may result in withdrawal symptoms.
To balance your dopamine levels, a dopamine detox is necessary. During it, a person refrains from doing anything that triggers dopamine — for up to several days. People often need medical and professional assistance during this process. Enrolling in rehab facilities, such as Delphi Health Group, will help them reset their brain’s dopamine levels.
- Listen to music
Another way to curb overactive dopamine is to listen to music. Numerous studies have shown that listening to music triggers the release of dopamine in a person’s brain.
Diet plays an important role in mental health as well. A cup of coffee boosts dopamine and serotonin levels, lasting for several hours. However, if you quit coffee, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. Because of the high levels of neurotransmitters in your brain, your brain will act as if there is a shortage. Caffeine-free diets can take up to 12 days to restore the brain’s normal function.
The omega-3 fatty acids boost serotonin production without triggering withdrawal symptoms. Their function is to activate nerve cell receptors so that serotonin can travel more easily. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce depression symptoms in numerous studies. Salmon is a cold-water fish that contains omega-3s.
Eating turkey does not increase the level of serotonin in the brain, as rumored on the internet. People often believe that tryptophan-rich foods can enhance moods since the brain produces serotonin from tryptophan. However, tryptophan has to compete against many other amino acids to reach the brain. The body usually rejects it because it is not a priority.
However, tryptophan should be part of your diet. You will experience a drop in serotonin levels if you don’t have enough. Tryptophan can be obtained from starchy foods such as potatoes, corn, and brown bread.
- Essential Oils
Essential oils are derived from plants. Therefore, many of these oils are medicinal in nature. According to one study, lavender, lemon, and bergamot essential oils provide therapeutic properties. By stimulating your sense of smell, they trigger the release of serotonin and dopamine in your brain.
However, you must adhere to the bottle label’s instructions. Even though essential oils are “organic,” if misused, some can be hazardous. It is recommended to keep essential oils out of the reach of children.
- Goal Achievement
Our brain releases dopamine when we accomplish one of our goals. There is a great deal of satisfaction in the brain when it experiences this dopamine rush. Thus, the body seeks out more dopamine by focusing on another task.
The more difficult the goal, the more dopamine is released. Nevertheless, you will have a better chance of success if you start with smaller goals. In the long run, short-term goals can add up to a bigger reward. This pattern promotes a steady level of dopamine release in the brain.
The brain can synthesize serotonin differently if your mood changes. Hence, mood and serotonin synthesis are mutually influenced. The benefit of psychotherapy is that it often improves a person’s mood. Therapy may also increase the level of serotonin in the brain.
Dopamine is released by the brain in response to novel experiences. The more new experiences you have, the more dopamine you will produce. It doesn’t matter what kind of experience you have. It can be as simple as taking up a new hobby or discovering a new recipe. It’s also possible to try something more extravagant, such as skydiving. Dopamine is more likely to be released when you are less familiar with the activity.
- Happy Memories
According to researchers, memory and mood are interconnected. Their study focused on the part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex, which is associated with attention. The study concluded that when people relive sad memories, their serotonin levels drop. On the contrary, when people dwelled on happy memories, they produced more serotonin.
There is scientific evidence that gratitude affects the brain’s reward system. Serotonin and dopamine are released in correlation with it. An increase in happiness can be directly attributed to gratitude.
The “three blessings exercise” has been studied extensively. Write three things you are grateful for every night for a week. The exercise tends to lead to greater happiness and fewer feelings of depression in people who complete it. It can take up to six months for your mood to improve.
Meditation involves contemplation that is relaxed and focused. And breathing exercises are often performed in conjunction with it. Several studies have suggested that during meditation, dopamine is released more readily because it reduces stress and creates inner peace.
- Spend Time in Nature
Depression was less common in previous generations because they spent most of their time outside. Nowadays, most people work indoors under artificial lighting, sitting at a desk. Researchers have found that spending just five minutes out in nature can elevate mood, increase motivation, and boost self-esteem.
Serotonin and dopamine synthesis are correlated with sunlight exposure. Walking in the park for even a short period of time can boost your mental health.
It is beneficial to exercise for 30 minutes a day to improve one’s mood. The brain produces more serotonin when it engages in sustained cardiovascular exercise. In addition to reducing hostility, serotonin can also alleviate depression symptoms. Additionally, it makes you more agreeable.
Keeping your dopamine levels healthy requires enough sleep each night. Dopamine levels rise temporarily after one night without sleep. However, prolonged sleep deprivation can make the dopamine receptors less responsive, affecting a person’s ability to stay awake.
Spending time in the sun, exercising, hearing music, meditating, and getting enough sleep can boost dopamine levels. The best way to boost your body’s natural dopamine production and improve your brain function is to maintain a balanced diet and lifestyle.