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
25.1Have 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.
25.2I 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.