Dopamine, also called the ‘motivation molecule’, is a neurotransmitter responsible for our feelings of bliss, euphoria, pleasure, enthusiasm for life, productivity, concentration and focus.
Research shows that dopamine regulates your motivation, which means it can help you initiate and persevere in the drive to achieve your goals. Dopamine is released when we experience the thrill of the chase in any aspect of life, and when we accomplish a goal.
Low dopamine levels, on the other hand, can lead to lack of motivation, fatigue, lethargy, procrastination, low libido, sleep problems, hopelessness, addictive behavior, mood swings and memory loss.
A depleted dopamine level also impairs brain functions like thinking, cognition, attention and learning; and can lead to psychiatric disorders like depression, Parkinson’s disease, bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder.
So it’s important to keep your dopamine levels topped up!
How to Increase Dopamine Naturally
Instead of resorting to caffeine, sugar, alcohol, recreational drugs, shopping, sex, video games, porn, and gambling to increase dopamine levels, here are some natural and healthy ways to do so:
Dopamine is made from an amino acid called tyrosine, commonly found in protein-rich foods like turkey, beef, organic dairy (cheese and yogurt), adzuki beans, lentils, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and soy foods.
Research shows that exercise helps increases serum calcium levels. Calcium is transported to the brain, which in turn enhances brain dopamine synthesis According to Dr. John Ratey, physical exercise increases baseline levels of the molecule by promoting the growth of new cell receptors. Taking a walk or practicing low-impact exercises like yoga or tai-chi can also provide great benefits.
Research shows that meditation increases dopamine, improves focus and concentration, and reduces social phobia.
Take up a Hobby
Creative hobbies of all kind, like sewing, knitting, photography, drawing, wood working and home repair, bring one into a meditative state. These activities increase dopamine, ward off depression and slow brain cell aging.
Listen to Music
Brain scans show that brain’s pleasure center lights up when listening to music, in the same way it does when we eat, make love, or take drugs.
All kinds of pleasurable touch increase dopamine. A therapeutic massage increases dopamine and serotonin and reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Stroking your dog can give both you and your dog a boost of dopamine and release a host of other feel-good brain chemicals.
Research has found that dopamine plays a role in sleep regulation. It controls the production of sleep hormone melatonin. Research also suggests that a lack of sleep also reduces the number of dopamine receptors. So make sure you get at least 7 to 8 hours sleep a night.
People who are obese have fewer dopamine receptors than people at a healthy weight. Dopamine is released when you eat, and some research indicates that obese people may eat more in an effort to trigger the brain’s pleasure center. Losing weight can increase dopamine receptors, and achieving your weight loss goals will trigger the release of dopamine. Two reasons to embark on a healthy diet today.
Set and Accomplish Goals
You can stimulate dopamine release by challenging yourself to new goals, big or small. The harder your goal, the more accomplishment you feel, which translates into more dopamine. Set harder goals like quitting a bad habit or sticking with a budget to pay off debts, or engage in quest oriented hobbies like geocaching, genealogy, bird watching and collecting of all kinds, since each new discovery can provide you with a boost of a dopamine.
Research shows that taking a cold shower, or ending your shower with a cold blast (14 degree C or 57 degree F) can increase your dopamine levels by 250%.References
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