Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by the brain that plays a number of vital functions in our bodies. Among them are:
- Regulating movement
- Controlling our brain’s pleasure and reward center
- Improving our cognitive functions (knowledge, memory, attention, evaluation, problem solving, and decision making)
- Regulating prolactin secretion
Given that dopamine is crucial for our happiness and well-being, the fact that low levels of this neurotransmitter can lead to sadness, depression, negativity and many other emotional troubles doesn’t come as a surprise.
Luckily, there are 10 easy and all- natural ways to increase our dopamine levels without using medications.
1. Don’t Get Addicted
Addiction to drugs, alcohol, and gambling, and even addiction to sex or shopping, often provides us with an instant pleasure. However, this type of instant fix will never provide a permanent solution to our problems. Addictions can only satisfy our transient needs, but they are not the solution to our long-term problems. Every addictive behavior leads to a lifestyle that is mostly based on the satisfaction that we get from the source of our addiction.In order to reduce the risk of developing any type of addiction; you should aim to live a more fulfilling life with more life-rewarding pleasures. It is very important to enjoy in simple things such as conversations, walking or reading. Moreover, note that you should also look for a job in which you will enjoy.
2. Checklist Small Tasks
Dopamine levels increase when we are organized and finish tasks, regardless of whether the tasks are easy or difficult.So, instead of worrying about the things you need to do, you should write them on paper and check them off one at a time. It has been shown that checking things off of our to-do list positively affects our dopamine levels.
According to the Principles of Self-Management, if some task represents a change of 25% (or bigger change) in your routine, you will feel incapable of completing it. This usually leads to a self-sabotage or giving up. On the other hand, if your task involves less than 10% change to your routine, it is very likely that you will not do it because it will look easy and meaningless. So, the best way to balance the scale is to perform tasks that are between 10 and 25% of new behaviors. In other words, you should do something that is challenging and motivating, but still not too difficult.
3. Create Something
Creative activity increases dopamine levels in your brain and makes you more focused. You don’t necessarily have to be a professional artist in order to be creative. Writing, painting, sculpturing, drawing, dancing, singing, knitting, cooking, making crafts, and auto repair, are just some of the many creative things you can do.
Every form of exercise will increase your dopamine levels as well as your endorphins and serotonins levels. Regular exercise reduces stress, creates joy and makes us stronger, which is very important for our day-to-day life. Just make sure not to become addicted to exercising.
5. Get a Streak Going
For the purpose of this article, we will define “streak” as a visual reminder of how many times in a row you have done something. Getting a streak going is very similar to creating a checklist and accomplishing your tasks. It increases your dopamine levels and makes you feel happier. Take a calendar and write down the goals you want to accomplish in the following days and months. For example, if you exercise on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday – mark these days on the calendar for the month. After you have finished your exercising, mark it off on the calendar.
Although ‘streak’ is a very useful tool, it has one negative aspect—routine. To counter it, you should try to find new ways to improve the performances of your actions.This will also help you to find out how much you have improved at the things you are doing.
6. Increase Tyrosine
Tyrosine is the most important chemical for the production of dopamine. It is one of the 22 key amino acids that are used for the creation of proteins in the body. Besides dopamine, tyrosine can also increase norepinephrine levels.
There are many food sources that can increase the tyrosine levels in your body, such as almonds, avocados, bananas, watermelon, green tea, and dark chocolate.
7. Listen to Music
Listening to music can increase your dopamine levels, even though this is only a temporary increase. It will make you feel amazing temporarily, but it won’t lead to a lasting fulfillment. That’s why music should only be one of your many sources of dopamine.
Meditation increases dopamine levels differently than cardiovascular exercises. It calms your mind, helps you feel better, and creates more mental energy. If you practice meditation regularly, you will be well-prepared to combat everyday stressful situations.
9. Take Supplements
There are many natural supplements that will help you increase your dopamine levels. Some of them include:
- Acetyl-l-tyrosine is a building block of dopamine.A healthy dose of this will improve your brain’s ability to produce dopamine.
- Ginkgo Biloba is another supplement that is well-known for its ability to increase dopamine levels.
- L-theanine increases many neurotransmitters in the brain and dopamine is only one of them. Green tea is a great source of l-theanine.
- Curcumin(the active ingredient in turmeric)also has the ability to increase dopamine levels in your brain.
10. Toxic Cleansing
The accumulation of bacteria and toxins in your body weakens the immune system and inhibits the production of dopamine.