Often called the “motivation molecule,” dopamine provides the drive and the focus you need to be productive.
It is heavily involved with attention span, focus, follow-through, motivation, and the ability to experience pleasure. It also creates the feeling that you’re being rewarded for a task well done which motivates most of us to repeat the action over and over again. Because it feels good to feel good.
As you can imagine, low levels of dopamine are linked to feelings of lethargy and a lack of motivation, and other feelings that, well, don’t feel good.
Including, but not limited to:
- Lack of focus
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sugar cravings
- Low motivation
The problem comes in when people try and increase dopamine with unhealthy chemicals and foods including nicotine, caffeine, and high-sugar, high-fat foods. While these things are great at increasing dopamine levels in the short term, they are terrible for your physical and emotional body in the long term.
Here Are 7 Natural Ways to Increase Dopamine
- Eat foods with tyrosine
In order to make dopamine, your body needs tyrosine. An amino acid is found in almonds, bananas, avocados, eggs, beans, fish, and chicken. Eating foods that naturally contain tyrosine naturally boosts your mood.
- Exercise regularly
It’s not a secret that physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body and your brain. Not only does it keep your muscles and bones active, but it also increases the production of new brain cells, slows aging, and, yup, you guessed it, increases dopamine levels.
- Hug someone or something
The simple act of human-to-human contact increases dopamine levels in the bran, but so does human to fuzzy, lovable pet. While research shows the touch effect is very real, it also shows that it pretty much exclusively pertains to mammals. Hug your honey, your pup, or your hamster!
- Learn to meditate
Learning to be aware of your thoughts, your breath, and your emotions is an incredibly powerful tool. Better yet, more studies are finding a connection between meditation and increased dopamine. This may be because of the increased and improved concentration that seems to come hand in hand with this individual practice.
- Get enough sleep
Giving your body enough time to rest means it has time to naturally produce dopamine. The impacts a lack of sleep has on the human body are numerous as are the impacts from low quality of sleep. Give yourself plenty of time away from screens at least an hour before you plan your shut-eye.
- Listen to music
Parties, religious ceremonies, weddings, and sporting events all have music. Why? Because music is tied to feelings of happiness, community, joy, and excitement. It comes as no surprise that research shows a direct connection between music and an increase in dopamine levels.
- Get enough sunlight
Here’s one that may or may not surprise you. Periods of low sunlight lead to increased depression rates and higher instances of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In the reverse, extra sun exposure and vitamin D trigger increased dopamine density within the brain. Find a window, or better yet, get outside!
Although dopamine is created naturally in the body, there are a number of factors that may limit its production.
While these are all-natural ways to increase your motivation, sometimes medical treatment is needed. If sleep, nutrition, and exercise are not helping you out of a slump, a bout of depression, or strong feelings of loneliness, we’re here to help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to this community and ask for help.
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*This article was originally published on April 2, 2019
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