Dopamine is vital in regulating our body. From movement to improved cognitive functions, and controlling the pleasure that we perceive, the neurotransmitter is sometimes underestimated.
Dopamine contributes to our well-being and happiness, and in turn, a reduction in it is associated with depression, stress and negativity. What’s important to recognize, however, is the ability to self-regulate our dopamine levels without having to resort to medications that often leave us worse for wear.
There are many ways to combat the depression that we can all sometimes feel – or simply, a negative day filled with melancholy. Exercise, music and creativity are just some options, along with common sense approaches like avoiding addictions and living a healthy lifestyle.
Below, you will find a list comprising of some alternatives you can turn to next time you’re feeling a little down and out.
Avoid your Addictions
Firstly, an addiction is an addiction because of its short-term effects on the body. Be it alcohol, caffeine, gambling or even the shopping spree, these are short term efforts that briefly satisfy us.
In the end, the consequences usually outweigh the initial ‘high’ and an addiction can fast become a vicious cycle. You don’t have to be on hard drugs for an addiction to destroy your life. A shopping spree every time you’re lacking in the dopamine department, is going to end in tears when you see your credit card bill at the end of the month.
The alternative? Assess your life. Write down goals and find things that you truly enjoy – not ones you think you should enjoy. Be honest with yourself. What makes you truly happy and provides a sense of calm? When you figure it out, pursue it – even if it’s on a part time basis. If you don’t like your job, then keep filing the resume with employers until you find the right fit.
When you’re genuinely happy, the dopamine will only contribute more.
It’s a drag at first. For all the non-gym junkies out there, let’s admit it. But getting exercise doesn’t mean going to the gym. Adopt a dog and find a path to walk for an hour each day; ride a bike; go walking in the countryside to explore new lands; swim the beaches – make your exercise not just about fitness but about your ‘me time.’
Any exercise will raise dopamine levels, not to mention the other good ones – serotonin and endorphins. Stress will reduce, your body will strengthen, and you now have an excuse for some time out to yourself.
“The tortured artist” is particularly tortured when they can’t create. Why? Because of the levels of dopamine elevating when creativity is in practice. You don’t have to be world renown to create and it can incorporate anything from building models, cooking, writing, dancing and music.
Dopamine levels tend to rise when listening to music, as well. So, next time you’re road-raging, turn the music up in your car instead.
It’s common sense, but it’s also one of the biggest struggles for people, particularly in western nations. However, certain supplements and ingredients are natural dopamine supporters and can easily be incorporated into your food. Supercharge your brain with foods that stimulate dopamine.
Protein foods include fresh fish, chicken, eggs, turkey.
Beets, avocados and artichokes, if you prefer vegetables.
For fruit, your better choices will include ripe bananas, strawberries, blueberries and prunes.
Raw almonds, sesame and pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, ginseng, turmeric, green tea and peppermint are also dopamine enhancers.
There are many other ways you can increase your dopamine naturally; but the key is to find your routine and consciously reduce your daily stress, starting small scale. No matter where you are in life, exercise is free, being creative is free, and eating healthy is just a lifestyle choice once you figure out and organize your approach to it.
At the end of the day, take responsibility for your own happiness and wellbeing and truly own your life.
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