How to Supercharge Your Dopamine Levels to Never Feel Sad, Stressed or Depressed Again
By Kat Gal
Dopamine is necessary for your happiness and well-being. It is a neurotransmitter that helps with the control of your brain’s pleasure and reward center, regulation of your emotional response, movement of your body and it allows you to take action to move forward your dreams.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Dopamine also affects your perception – healthy dopamine levels help you to see life in a positive light. Low dopamine levels promote sadness, depression, negativity and other emotional issues.
Lucky you, there are 10 easy and natural ways you can increase your dopamine levels without medication.
1. Don’t Get Addicted
Addictions, including drug-, alcohol-, sex-, shopping-addictions and any other addictive behaviors, often develop to receive an instant gratification. But this instant fix doesn’t actually solve your problems. For a while, addictive behaviors can relieve your pain, but they don’t offer long-term solutions. Addictions lead to less-rewarding lifestyles, to lifestyles all about looking for fulfillment from the source of your addictions.
To decrease the likelihood of addictions, aim to live a more fulfilling life with more life-rewarding pleasures. Fill your day with things, activities and people that inspire or uplift you. Have fulfilling conversations, go for walks, read a good book, take a job you love (or learn to love your job), play with animals or buy yourself flowers.
Since addictions often stem from past traumas; you want to look for ways of emotional release, letting go and forgiveness. If you need to, don’t be afraid to seek help from a therapist, counselor or life coach.
2. Checklist Small Tasks
Have you ever wondered why you feel happy when you finish a task or get organized? It is because your dopamine levels increase when you’ve completed something. Your dopamine levels rise even more when you are able to check something physically off your list versus mentally.
According to the Principles of Self-Management, if a task involves 25% or greater change in your routine, you will feel overwhelmed, incapable or completing it and you may start to self-sabotage or give up. If the task involves less than 10% change, you will likely not do it, because it will feel easy and meaningless. The best way to balance the scale is to look for goals between 10 and 25% of new behaviors and actions in order to create the highest likelihood of success.
This is simply a guide, but find a task that seems challenging and motivating, but not too difficult or doable. Break down larger tasks into smaller steps. Create a written list and check your boxes as you accomplish them to help better raise your dopamine levels.
3. Create Something
As a writer, I can tell you that when I am in a creative mode, I enter the beautiful flow of a new world. Creative activity creates more dopamine levels in your brain, putting you into a hyper-focused state of happy flow.
You don’t have to be a professional artist to be creative. Writing, painting, sculpturing, playing with legos, drawing, coloring, dancing, singing, knitting, making crafts, photography, making a vision board, auto repair, cooking, baking, or anything else that seems fun and interesting for you can become a creative activity. Even designing a new program for your job, organizing your home, or planning a trip can be a creative activity.
Find something that truly inspires you and makes you happy. Don’t judge yourself or compare yourself to others. Allow yourself to enter into the process of creation. To help get inspired, read Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic.
I am a runner. To me, running is more than just exercise or a sport. In a way, it is a form of art and self-expression. But, regardless of what form of exercise you choose, it can very likely boost your dopamine levels, as well as your endorphins and serotonins, relieving stress and creating joy.
Though exercise is important, make sure it doesn’t become an addiction. Find a form of exercise you enjoy, but don’t overdo it. Don’t place value on exercise either. It is a part of healthy living, self-care and happiness, but it is not a way to measure your self-worth.
Functional training is a good choice of exercise, because it is tailored to help you with daily life. Your body will get stronger and healthier and you can go through your day with high energy.
5. Get A Streak Going
Getting a streak going is similar to creating a checklist and accomplishing your steps. It increases your dopamine levels and helps you to feel good and accomplished.
Set a goal: it can be a new workout routine, a habit that’s part of a lifestyle or dietary change, a self-love routine, or an activity with a loved one. Check off every Meatless Monday you’ve accomplished. Decide to take yoga or to to go for a run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Journal every morning. Go out for date nights every second Saturday with your partner. Experiment with a new recipe every Sunday. Check off your accomplishment and smile at your streak.
Though having a streak is something to celebrate, it has some downsides to it. It may become so routine that you forget to celebrate. Routines are good, but don’t forget to mix things up – mix in new recipes into Meatless Mondays instead of making the same old easy pasta marinara, try different types of yoga classes, use new recipe books or new cooking methods for you recipes, do a variety of journaling exercises, try new things for date night besides a dinner or a movie.
Getting a streak can become a problem too if you take it overly seriously. What if you get sick and have to skip a Monday, or your partner has to be out of town for work on a date night, or your alarm didn’t go off, making you miss journaling?
No big deal! Don’t sweat it if you have to skip once in awhile. Get back on the wagon and get a new streak going. You are not training for the Olympics or running for president, you are simply creating happiness and health in your life.
6. Increase Tyrosine
Tyrosine is the most important out of all the chemicals that make up dopamine – in fact, it is dopamine’s main building block. Tyrosine is one of the 22 key amino acids that are used for building proteins around the body. It not only increases dopamine levels, but norepinephrine as well. This makes it important for you to get enough proteins.
There are a large variety of foods that can increase tyrosine in your body. Plant-based varieties of these tyrosine enhancing foods include almonds, bananas, avocados, green tea, watermelon and dark chocolate.
Once again, food is medicine and it can also creates happiness – lasting happiness.
7. Listen To Music
Do you know that feeling when you jam comes on, where the world stops and all you want to do is dance and sing along? It feels good, right? Guess what, listening to good music increases your dopamine levels and creates a good feeling.
This is, however, only a temporary increase. Listening to music can make you feel good temporarily, but will not lead to lasting fulfillment in life (unless you are a musician, singer, DJ, music producer, or music is your passion in a similar way). Popular music today is created in a way to create chemical dependency in your brain – just like substance addiction.
Of course, being addicted to music is much better than being addicted to drugs, alcohol, junk food, or shopping, but it is still not necessarily healthy. Make sure that music is only a part of your life, a source of inspiration or a kickstart to a good day. Be sure to have many other sources of dopamine in your life as well. Look for fulfilling activities, create goals and go for your dreams.
If you are leading a busy life in today’s world, you may be feeling overwhelmed. There is so much to do, your to-do list is endless and there are so many other spontaneous impulses of needs and wants. With so many options, it can even be overwhelming to select a box of granola or to pick up a healthy apple. Your brain is puzzling about the past and already working on the future. Overthinking may even be more of a compulsion that you cannot seem to stop.
One of the benefits of meditation is to slow down your monkey mind. Even if it is only for a few minutes, it can help you to slow down your thinking, or better yet, to stop thinking. Through meditation, you can learn to be present.
Meditation increases your dopamine levels, but differently than cardiovascular exercise. It calms your mind, centers your being, helps you feel good, creates more mental energy and helps you to reach more fulfillment in life. If you practice meditation regularly, eventually you will be able to transfer your skills to real life and get back to the present moment in stressful situations.
9. Take Supplements
There are many great ways to increase your dopamine levels, both through lifestyle choices, daily activities and food. However, if you’ve been dealing with sadness, lack of motivation, lack of energy, or an illness that’s holding you back, you can use all the help you can get. Some days you may also simply be facing a time crunch to get in all your dopamine-friendly activities.
Thankfully, there are some great natural supplements that can help you increase your dopamine levels.
- Acetyl-l-tyrosine is a building block of dopamine and a healthy dose can help make your brain’s job of dopamine production easier.
- Ginkgo Biloba is a popular supplement that is believed to increase dopamine levels and keep them up for longer.
- L-theanine increases neurotransmitters – such as dopamine – in your brain. Green tea is a wonderful source of l-theanine.
- Curcumin – this one is my favorite. It is the active ingredient of turmeric that is not only a potent anti inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral superspice, but it also increases dopamine levels in your brain. FitLifeTV just came out with its new and powerful turmeric supplement – you can find it in our shop.
Remember that though taking a supplement is helpful and beneficial, it is not a replacement for happy, healthy and dopamine-enhancing lifestyle and dietary choices. Life is complex, but also magical, it is much more than simply taking a pill. Get your turmeric or other supplements in, but practice all the other 9 tips from this article as well for ideal results.
10. Toxic Cleaning
When your body is loaded with toxins and bacteria, everything gets out of whack. Your immune system weakens, your body becomes acidic, giving opportunities for disease to grow and your dopamine production can be constrained too. In other words, if you are filled with junk, you will feel like junk too.
First, it is very important what you bring into your body. You have enough toxin build-up already – stop taking in more. Focus on nourishing, organic, whole foods, mostly plants. Reduce – or preferably stop – eating processed foods.
Organic vegetables and fruits are definitely your friends. Green juices and green smoothies are excellent ways to bring in a large amount of nutrients into your body quickly. If you are on the go, use Green Juice Powders, or simply add them to your juices or smoothies for extra benefits.
It is important to keep your gut healthy. Eat fermented foods and take probiotics to help create healthy bacteria balance in your body. A healthy gut is the basis of a healthy mind and a healthy body. Try our Biotic Balance Probiotics with 50 billion beneficial bacteria!
Overall, be sure to get enough sleep. Sleep allows your body to recover and your mind to rest. It is super important, don’t let yourself forget about it. Besides sleep, find time to relax, laugh, nap and do all the fulfilling activities you need to in order to keep yourself lifted, happy and positive.
Above all, friend, follow your heart and keep creating joy in your life.
What do you do on a regular basis to increase dopamine, to create more joy and more fulfillment in your life? What are you going to try from your list? Share your tips and wisdom below. We would love to hear from you.
Do NOT use the turmeric spice in your cupboard as a health supplement. Many spices are adulterated with carcinogens, GMO corn, dyes, and even sawdust!
Choose a super critically extracted, Organic, Non-GMO turmeric supplement like this one.
Kat Gál is the creator of Long Distance Relationship Help, a site which offers tips, tools, inspiration and resources to create a successful and happy relationships, no matter where in the world you may be. She knows from personal experience that love is possible despite the miles, you just have to navigate your way around it. She is passionate about the world and finds her creativity outlet as a writer and educator. You can follow her on her website and her Facebook page.
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