Do I Need A Dopamine Detox?
You’ve probably heard of dopamine, but do you know what a dopamine detox is? Likely not, but it’s a great tool to have if you’ve been feeling particularly stressed out or anxious. But why would you need one, and how does it work? PYM has all your answers, and more. You may be surprised to find out exactly what it is!
First off, a brief primer on what dopamine is and how it works.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is naturally produced by the body. The job of a neurotransmitter is to trigger the transfer of an impulse (or message) from one nerve to another. In this case, the goal of dopamine is to essentially work as a “reward,” helping incentivize certain behaviors so that you continue to do them.
However, dopamine also impacts other parts of both anatomy and behavior. It has been tied to not only helping with learning and motivation but also helping to regulate heart rate, mood, sleep, and pain response. It also impacts both blood vessel and kidney function.
Certain mental health issues have also been directly tied to having either too little or too much dopamine in the system. Schizophrenia, for example, may be partially the result of an excess of dopamine, where ADHD may be caused or worsened by too little.
Unfortunately, because of the type of reward system that dopamine creates, it is also thought to be related to addictive behaviors. When you do something that makes you feel good and are in turn rewarded with increased dopamine, you’re more likely to do that thing. Alcohol, tobacco, and even illegal drugs do exactly that, which is why dopamine can both help and hinder our lives.
What Is A Dopamine Detox?
Dopamine detox is essentially a way of tricking your brain into doing things by manipulating the amount of dopamine in your body.
It starts by identifying the specific behaviors that you are wanting to change. This can really be anything you like, but there are a few types of behaviors that a dopamine detox is more likely to help with. Try to choose something that legitimately distresses you. A good example of this is trying to kick a social media habit. When we scroll mindlessly through social media, we get a quick dopamine hit. That makes it more tempting than other things we know we should be doing, and why we often lose hours at a time to social media.
That’s where a dopamine detox comes in. Occasionally, we need to give our brain time off from the type of quick, dopamine cheats that feel good in the short term and worse in the long term. When you minimize the amount of dopamine flooding into your system, at least temporarily, you can also help to teach your brain to enjoy some of the more “boring” things you need to do.
Once you’ve chosen your target, think about how much time you want to spend avoiding it. It’s recommended that you start small, maybe a few hours at a time, especially if this is a behavior you think you’ll have trouble kicking. It will also help you build up the belief that you can do it.
Then It’s time to put your plan into action! It can be helpful to physically get rid of the trigger, if possible. Sticking with the social media example, try putting your phone in a drawer. Out of sight, (more) out of mind.
The more you do this, the weaker that conditioning becomes. Over time, you’ll want to do that behavior less and less and can take back that control. It also helps to reset your brain, so that you’ll need less dopamine over time. Really, at the end of the day, a true dopamine detox isn’t really about the level of dopamine in the brain. It’s more about the ability to “hack” the brain to help you beat those habits that you may have struggled to kick under other circumstances.
Tips For Having a Successful Dopamine Detox
While it sounds easy on paper, it can definitely be a lot harder to put into place. A good way to help increase your odds of success is to give yourself some social accountability. If you’re trying to avoid social media, have a friend check in on you the old-fashioned way.
It’s also a good idea to find something to do with your time that will take your mind off of things. Talk a walk, play with your dog, or have a conversation with a friend in person. Just be careful not to replace the habit with one that is equally as addicting or problematic.
When the urge hits, and it will, instead of ignoring it… acknowledge it! The more you acknowledge those small victories, the easier the big ones will be. Pay attention to how you feel when it hits, and what you’re doing. You may surprise yourself with the patterns that you’re able to discover.
If you’re having trouble, consider using PYM Mood Chews to help. When you take them ahead of your stressful event, it can help naturally reduce the amount of stress that you feel. It does this by working with your hormones, instead of against them, and creating the chemicals needed to help you feel much less overwhelmed.
And remember, stick with it! You’re going to have struggles, you’re going to take two steps forward and one step back. This is a normal part of the process, and it doesn’t say anything about who you are as a person. It really is a marathon and not a sprint.
Ultimately, we could all use a dopamine detox every once in a while. When used correctly, it can help you not only break bad habits but create newer, healthier ones. PYM Mood Chews can help you with the stress that naturally comes with confronting and changing bad habits. If you stick with it, you’ll find yourself in a much healthier, happier place.