We all know how difficult it can be to break away from unhealthy habits like food cravings, smoking, and drinking. But there is a solution – resetting your dopamine levels with natural dopamine instead of synthetic alternatives that drive your cravings and mood swings.
Natural Vs Synthetic Dopamine
Research has shown that natural dopamine is much more effective than its synthetic counterpart in reducing cravings and stabilizing moods. Natural dopamine also produces fewer side effects compared to synthetic dopamine, like sweets, alcohol, tobacco, refined carbs, pornography, and anything else that provides you with a huge dump of dopamine in the nerve cells that contribute to the high. That high you seek keeps you coming back for more when your mood drops, and you get caught in a cycle.
Per numerous studies referenced by Healthline, natural dopamine is released when we do things such as exercise, eat healthy foods, meditation, listen to music and spend time outdoors in sunlight. These activities allow dopamine nerve cells to experience a more natural high that is quite enjoyable without the need of reaching for an addictive substance.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the benefits of natural dopamine levels in the body, how to recognize your synthetic dopamine cravings that contribute to your addictive behavior and mood swings, and how natural dopamine can help you reset your cravings for addictive substances such as food, sugar, alcohol, tobacco, porn, and others.
Dopamine Nerve Cells Create Pleasure Feeling
First off, let’s start with understanding why dopamine plays such an important role in our bodies when it comes to addiction and unhealthy cravings. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) that helps us feel pleasure or reward when we perform certain activities or eat certain foods. Our bodies are remarkable, providing enough dopamine to feel pleasure. When these activities, foods, or beverages are consumed in unhealthy amounts to affect our mood, we introduce too much dopamine synthetically to achieve the high that we seek to feel good or better. When the effects wear off, we feel down and moody. We’re treating our cravings (and pleasure center in the brain) with a quick hit of synthetic dopamine rather than allowing the body to experience the gradual reward from doing something that takes time or effort, like the life hacks listed below.
Why Synthetic Dopamine Is Drug Abuse
Many will try to justify or atone for their negative addictive behavior. Take overeaters and those addicted to sweets. They have poor impulse control and will consume an unhealthy amount of sweets, sugars, refined carbs, etc. to feel good. When the effects wear off, they will feel down, bad, or outright moody. Then they may try to "counteract" the effects by exercising because they feel bad, only to return to the addictive behavior of consuming sweets and sugars again, followed by regret and the need to exercise again. The same is true for alcohol, tobacco, and other addictive vices, in which the user may feel remorse and do something to atone for their behavior, only to repeat their negative behavior to get another easy high and feel good again. It's a form of drug abuse. This behavior can lead to mental disorders for some, or exacerbate preexisting mental disorders in others. So the effects on mental health cannot be overstated here.
Over time, one or two things may happen. We find ourselves caught in a negative cycle of feeding our brain with synthetic dopamine, and then we feel the urge to counteract it and find some balance, constantly adjusting our moods to remain in a state of elevation, especially after our moods drop when the effects wear off. The other thing that can happen is that our brains get used to these addictive substances and require higher doses to maintain the same feelings of pleasure or reward – essentially creating a cycle of addiction or dependence on them. This creates health issues on physical, emotional and mental health, and throws your life out of balance. The addict has created a situation in which they chase after the wrong things instead of cultivating healthy habits.
In both cases, a dependency is created, and we're caught in a cycle that we cannot break. With food or other legal substances, you may not realize you're addicted. With other substances and behaviors, you may well know that you're addicted, but feel powerless to do anything about it. In both cases, the addict is hooked, and their life lacks peace and balance caused by negative cyclic behaviors and seemingly irrational mood swings to an observer or close family member who may not understand such emotional tirades.
How To Increase Natural Dopamine Levels
Fortunately, by opting for natural dopamine instead of synthetic alternatives you are allowing your body to reset itself without having to resort to drugs or medications - freeing yourself from excessive dependence on those addictive substances. Here are some life hacks on how you can start resetting your dopamine levels through everyday activities:
• Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins which naturally boost your mood while getting rid of stress hormones at the same time - helping bring back balance in your body's hormone levels. Make sure you schedule physical activity into your daily routine, and if that’s not possible, aim for a 30-minute workout at least three times a week. A workout can consist of walking, running, lifting, and just about anything to get your heart pumping, lungs working, and muscles moving. Don't forget to warm up and cool down with some gentle stretching to maintain flexibility and aid in muscle recovery. And drink plenty of water!
• Spend time outdoors: Nature has incredible healing powers if you spend time out enjoying it – try going for walks in parks or other green spaces nearby and take time to appreciate the beauty around you while recharging your batteries at the same time!
• Eat healthy meals: Eating healthy balanced meals will help replenish essential nutrients in your body improving your overall well-being while fighting off cravings for unhealthy snacks or sugary drinks/foods. How to do it? Start by making a grocery list and planning ahead. Include nutrient-dense food such as whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits. This will help you stick to nutritious food choices instead of bingeing on unhealthy food. Do not bring unhealthy foods, beverages, sugars, and sweets into your home if the temptation is too great. You need a detox!
• Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for restoring your body's balance. Aim to get 7-8 hours of quality rest every night to help regulate hormones like cortisol, leptin, and ghrelin which affect hunger and cravings. Getting enough sleep will also give you the energy to make healthy food choices and stay active throughout the day. How to do it? Follow the 1-3-2-1 rule: No caffeine after 1 pm. No food within 3 hours of sleeping. No fluids within 2 hours of sleeping. No blue screens (cell phone) within an hour of sleeping. If you must check your cell phone before bed, change the settings to "Night Shift" by going into your phone's Settings, Display & Brightness, then Night Shift from Sunset to Sunrise, and adjusting the color temperature to More Warm. And when you wake up in the morning, get as much natural light as you can so that your brain receives the natural wake up signals, and your circadian rhythm adjusts so you fall asleep when you need to sleep for a full night's rest.
• Practice mindfulness: Taking time to slow down, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, and notice how they impact your behavior. To practice mindfulness, start by taking deep breaths and focusing on the present moment. Notice thoughts that come up without judgment, and observe how your thoughts and feelings affect your behavior. Pay attention to how your body feels, noticing any tension or tightness that might be present. Doing this on a regular basis can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and how they shape your behavior.
• Meditate: Studies have shown that regular meditation not only relaxes the mind but also boosts positive emotions, increases dopamine levels & reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels within our bodies helping us stay focused & motivated for longer periods! How to do it? Find a quiet, still place, block out any distraction or noise and focus on your breath while maintaining composure. This will help you clear your thoughts, relax your body and bring about a feeling of peacefulness.
The Addict's Challenge
The challenge for most addicts is that they cannot see past their addictive behavior, and continue repeating the cycle. They don't know the freedom and simple pleasure and joy that awaits them from just allowing the body to provide natural dopamine provided by the practices listed above.
Change can be hard, and breaking free from addiction can be one of the hardest things anyone can overcome. But if they knew what awaited them on the other side of breaking free from addiction, they would "suffer" through the withdrawal and intense cravings that they seek to satisfy and find enjoyment is simple, healthy pleasures like those listed above.
Taking the first step towards breaking free from addiction can seem impossible, but with natural dopamine they can reset themselves and find balance without depending on synthetics. Here's to taking a stand against synthetic dopamine, and embracing natural joy!
By setting aside time each day to focus on and do these life hacks and committing yourself to make healthier choices over time - you'll find lasting relief from unhealthy addictions & gain better control over your daily habits! Your mood will stabilize without the roller-coaster highs and lows caused by too much dopamine. You will be able to experience simple joy and pleasure from your environment without needing to consume an addictive substance like synthetic dopamine, allowing your environment and healthy activity choices to provide you with enough dopamine to sustain your quality of life.
Once you gain control of your behavior, you can start to build a strong foundation for lasting recovery from addiction and establishing healthier habits to live by. So, don't wait any longer and make the commitment to break free from addiction - start today by replacing synthetic dopamine with natural dopamine! It's time to take charge of your life with these life hacks!
Disclaimer: Some people are struggling with addiction and need help. The Substance Abuse And Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) can help! SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
Call 1-800-622-HELP (4357) if you or someone you know needs help.