Do you feel like you don’t have enough energy to get through the day? Is it hard to finish things once you’ve started them? Are you easily distracted? Do you find it hard to concentrate? Have you lost your zest for life?
If you answered yes to any of these, you may have a deficiency and need to increase dopamine levels.
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is one of over one hundred neurotransmitters in the human brain. It is the main brain chemical messenger responsible for making us feel motivated. Dopamine delivers a sense of satisfaction in our mind after accomplishing a task. It also is released when playing sports, learning something new, finishing a task or project, or getting the big promotion you wanted at work.
Often called the “motivation molecule,” dopamine provides the drive and focus we all need in order to be productive. It is heavily involved with our attention span, focus, follow-through, motivation, and the ability to experience pleasure.
However, if we are deficient in dopamine levels, this can cause some imbalance in our life. A lack of dopamine is associated with the following consequences:
- Lack of focus
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sugar cravings
- Lower motivation
Dopamine-dominant people are usually focused go-getters. Unfortunately, many of the things that people do to boost their focus and energy end up backfiring. There are many unhealthy ways to seek out a “dopamine fix.” For example, anything addicting like nicotine, caffeine, and sugar-laden, fat-filled treats are all very effective at increasing dopamine levels and can, in turn, be the root cause of addictive behavior in our life.
However, these things that provide a quick boost end up disrupting the natural dopamine production process resulting in decreased dopamine production in the long-term.
Ways to Boost Dopamine
So, what are some safe, healthy, natural ways to boost your dopamine levels you may ask? Here are the top 7 ways to increase dopamine naturally:
1. Eat foods rich in Tyrosine. In order to make dopamine, your body needs tyrosine which can be found in almonds, bananas, avocados, eggs, beans, fish, and chicken.
2. Exercise regularly. In general, physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain. It increases the production of new brain cells, slows down brain cell aging, can increase your levels of dopamine. Exercise has also been associated with improved mood and overall a better outlook on life.
3. Learn to meditate. The overall health benefits of meditation have been demonstrated through hundreds of research studies. Many of those have shown that meditation increases dopamine leading to improved focus and concentration. Even if you’re new to meditation, there are many helpful guided meditations for beginners to help you get started. Check out Dr. Amen’s podcast on the positive benefits of meditation for our brains.
4. Get a massage. It has long been suggested that one way to keep dopamine levels high is to avoid stress, which is nearly impossible in this day and age. To counter the effects of stress, research has demonstrated that massage therapy increases dopamine levels by nearly 30% while decreasing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels.
5. Sleep. To ensure that your brain increases dopamine naturally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. This includes setting aside time before bed away from the computer or TV screen. Sleep helps all the cells in the body repair and renew. It gives the brain a chance to wash away toxins that build up during the day and helps keep the nerve cell connections and pathways active and constantly self-renewing. Lack of sleep has been shown to reduce concentrations of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, and their receptors.
6. Listen to music. It is no surprise that listening to calming music can increase pleasurable feelings, improve mood, reduce stress, and help with focus and concentration. Research has demonstrated that much of this is achieved due to an increase in dopamine levels.