“Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional response, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.” – Psychology Today
Here’s something worth noting (really!): Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, it’s the brain chemical directly responsible for motivation and focus. Who doesn’t want to be more motivated and focused?
Another really exciting thing is that dopamine can be increased! Yes, you can effectively improve your motivation, focus, and mood by taking natural steps to increase the dopamine levels in your brain.
So, let’s get to it!
Here are 10 ways to increase dopamine levels and boost productivity:
1. Don’t get addicted
Many people get addicted to something because it gives them some kind of instant gratification – drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, shopping, and other addictive behaviors actually have the opposite effect on dopamine levels in the long-term. In essence, when we get overly addicted to something, the “reward circuitry” of our brain kicks into overdrive and we crave the “quick hit”. This is not a sustainable solution for dopamine production, which can and should be done naturally.
2. Checklist small tasks
Dopamine increases when we are organized and finish tasks – regardless if the task is small or large. So, don’t allow your brain to worry about things that need to be done. Instead, write these tasks down and then check them off one at a time. It’s been shown that it’s more satisfying to the brain’s dopamine levels when we physically check something off of our to-do list. Also, write down and check stuff off regardless if you can mentally remember the tasks.
3. Create something
For us writers, painters, sculptors, poets, singers, dancers, and other artists, we can identify with this. When we’re in creative mode, we can become hyper-focused. As a result, we can enter a state called flow. Dopamine is the brain chemical that allows us to achieve this state. The lesson is this: take up a hobby or activity in which you actually create something tangible. Try something like arts, crafts, auto repair, drawing, photography, or something else that sounds interesting.
Same ‘ole, same ‘ole, we know. We’ve discussed repeatedly the importance and benefits of physical exercise, and we’re just going to add to this list again. So, not only does exercise help us relieve stress, achieve better physical health and make us more productive; it boosts our dopamine levels. More specifically, exercise increases multiple neurotransmitters – serotonin and endorphins, besides dopamine, receive a boost. Here’s something else cool: the exercise needn’t not be arduous. Simply taking a stroll or climbing some stairs will achieve a good dopamine jolt.
5. Get a streak going
As with creating a checklist, getting a streak going is a great way to increase dopamine levels. For the purpose of this article, a streak is a visual reminder of how many days in a row you’ve achieved something.
Get a calendar specifically for this purpose: write down whatever goal you have and the days of the week or month when they are scheduled. For example, if you work out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, mark these days on the calendar for the month. As you finish a workout, mark it off on the calendar. Keep a streak going, and you’ll keep the dopamine coming.
6. Increase Tyrosine
Of the chemicals that make up dopamine, none are more important than tyrosine. In fact, tyrosine is considered the building block of dopamine. Therefore, it is important that you get enough of this protein. There’s a large list of foods that increase Tyrosine, including:
- Green Tea
There’s a bunch of good stuff in there, so it shouldn’t be difficult finding something that’ll serve your dopamine levels well.
7. Listen to music
Do you ever wonder why music makes you happy? I mean, we can be in the dumps one moment but once we put on our favorite jam, we’re swaying and shaking away…feeling pretty good about ourselves too! The reason for this is that listening to music increases dopamine levels. In fact, scientists say that listening to music has the same effect as eating our favorite foods or watching our favorite T.V. show. So, when you’re feeling down, throw on some of your favorite tunes and jam out!
As with exercise, we are discovering more and more benefits to meditation. We are again adding to the list. As we discussed, the human brain is susceptible to a variety of addictions. One other addictive habit that we have is overthinking. In fact, some Buddhists have a phrase for this addiction: ‘monkey mind.’
Overthinking is not merely a distracting habit, it’s also a genuine compulsion that leaves us in a perplexing state, while also having a negative effect on our spiritual development. However, scientists are finally catching up to what Buddhists have known for thousands of years: meditation and mindfulness are essential to a healthy mind.
Also, prayer and self-reflection prove to increase dopamine levels.
9. Take supplements
While there are some great ways to increase dopamine levels, sometimes we’re facing a time crunch. Fortunately, there are natural supplements on the market that have been shown to increase dopamine levels. Here are a few:
Acetyl-l-tyrosine: Another building block of dopamine. A healthy dose of this makes it easier for the brain to produce dopamine.