You know that feeling you get when you win a competition or get an amazing promotion at work?
If you answered yes, that feeling is triggered by dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is produced in the brain, and it performs the function of a chemical messenger by facilitating communication between nerve cells in the brain and the rest of the body. The hormone makes happiness, excitement, and various other emotions.
Unfortunately, there are many ways that our dopamine levels can decrease, and when this happens, we might feel like we’re not as sharp or as motivated as we used to be. In this article, we’ll be discussing ways to increase dopamine naturally and unlock that natural chemical that feels good, and when it’s working correctly, can also help us be more productive.
10 Simple Steps On How to Increase Dopamine Naturally
1. Move Your Body
Exercise helps us feel happier, calmer, and less stressed while also boosting our memory and concentration.
Some studies suggest that exercise may cause an increase in levels of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that play important roles in regulating mood. Others suggest that exercise may trigger a release of endorphins, another type of neurotransmitter that plays a role in pain relief.
Psychologists encourage exercise because it makes you feel accomplished. Going to the gym in the morning may not be the first thing you want to do, but if you can make this habit, you can also make other positive habits too.
Consider incorporating movement into your everyday routine if your profession does not allow you to move during the day. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs or take a stroll around your area. Even if you only have five minutes, try to get started.
The Department of Health and Human Services published a physical activity guideline that states that adults should have at least two and a half hours of aerobic exercise a week. 
2. Intake More Magnesium
It is vital to our health that we get enough magnesium in our diets. According to research, magnesium increases dopamine levels and has antidepressant properties. It participates in more than 300 metabolic events in the body and is necessary for optimum neurotransmitter activation.
There is evidence that magnesium deficiency contributes to low dopamine levels and an increased likelihood of developing depression. Magnesium deficiency can also cause muscle cramps, which may be mistaken for symptoms of depression.
Unfortunately, many people do not get enough magnesium in their diet. Keep in mind that if you eat a lot of processed foods, your body is likely deficient in magnesium. Start eating magnesium-rich foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds, dry beans, whole grains, wheat germ, etc.
3. Enjoy Nature and Get Sunlight
One research was conducted on 68 healthy adults to determine whether sunlight has any positive effect on increasing dopamine. And the research result showed that those who got more sunlight had increased dopamine levels than the others. 
Taking a break from the computer and resting your eyes in nature can be good. Instead of staring at a screen all day, go outside and enjoy the fresh air and scenery. You may want to spend some yard work outdoors when the weather is nice.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is an illness caused by a lack of light. People who suffer from SAD get depressed during the winter months when there is less daylight. Light therapy helps reduce depression symptoms in many cases.
Sunlight has another positive impact on our bodies. It produces vitamin D, which is very important for your overall health. Therefore, doctors suggest everybody should spend at least 30 minutes under the sun.
4. Listen to Music
Music can do many wonders. Have you ever wondered why infants fall asleep while listening to songs from their parents? Listening to music you love releases dopamine and transmits pleasure signals to the rest of your body.  And the more pleasing the music is to the ear, the more pleasurable the experience is for the body.
Most studies say classical music can increase dopamine levels at the highest level. This does not necessarily rule out the possibility that music with lyrics increases dopamine. However, if you want to be absolutely confident that you are increasing your dopamine levels, it is best to listen to instrumental music.
5. Eating Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA is present in cocoa beans but can be destroyed during the refining process of white chocolate. Eating dark chocolate instead of white chocolate can help boost your mood and improve your overall sense of well-being.
Dark chocolate increases the creation of feel-good molecules known as endorphins.
Meditation is a technique that calms the mind, and countless studies have demonstrated its benefits on mental health. In fact, brain scan imaging studies confirmed that meditation is one of many proven natural ways to increase dopamine. Meditation can increase dopamine levels by 65% 
It has also been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety by up to 50%. 
If you are practicing a formal method of concentration meditation, you will likely notice that your mind becomes focused instead of distracted while you meditate. You might not even realize you were thinking about something else before you started concentrating.
When your mind starts wandering away from the object of your meditation, simply bring it back to the chosen object again. Just like with any other skill, practice makes perfect.
7. Good Sleep Habits
There is a strong correlation between good sleep habits and dopamine levels. You are surely aware of that if you don’t get enough sleep, it can have a bad impact on both your mood and your productivity. 
You wake up feeling exhausted and unmotivated after a restless night of tossing and turning in bed. On the other hand, getting enough quality sleep will cause an increase in your body’s production of dopamine and give you the motivation to take on the challenges that lie ahead during the upcoming day. Therefore, it is essential to develop and maintain healthy sleeping habits.
This involves maintaining a dark and quiet environment in your bedroom, putting away any electronic devices, and making it a goal to get at least seven hours of sleep each night (eight hours is even better).
8. Cut Down on Processed Sugars
You’ve probably experienced the thrill that comes with eating a lot of sugar. This is commonly known as a “sugar high.” Processed sugar temporarily boosts dopamine, just like alcohol and recreational drugs. However, this alters the typical rate at which your body produces it on a regular basis.
Our primitive ancestors were scavengers, eating whatever they could find. Sugary foods are ideal sources of energy, so evolution made us like them. But as our ancestors had to fight against other animals, they didn’t have easy access to sweet fruits.
But now, nobody restricts us from consuming foods made with processed sugar. Even though the scenario has changed, our habits remain as our ancestors – we love sweet food.
Sugar addiction occurs because it causes dopamine release, which causes our brains to seek more of it. As a result, we overeat, which can lead to obesity.
However, with a little willpower, you can break the sugar addiction. And cutting out sweets for a week or two allows your dopamine production to restore to normal. And you won’t be craving sugar as much. As a result, your body will produce dopamine that is not associated with sugar.
9. Take A Cold Shower
You may question how a cold shower might increase the amount of dopamine in the human body. Showering in the water below 14 degrees Celsius or 57 degrees Fahrenheit boosts dopamine levels by 250 percent! 
Initially, it is a difficult shower to experience. Consequently, you can begin your first cold shower with a minute’s worth of chilly water. Determine how it feels, then progressively increase the duration.
The advantages will be well worth the effort if you can withstand the initial discomfort.
10. Include More Protein and Probiotics In Your Diet
While discussing ‘how to increase dopamine,’ food habits play a crucial part. You already learned how magnesium intake can help you to increase dopamine. Changing food habits is one of the most proven natural ways to increase dopamine.
You can increase your dopamine levels naturally by eating foods high in the amino acid L-tyrosin. It can help you acquire the basic building blocks needed for dopamine synthesis. These amino acids are present in foods like eggs, fish, cottage cheese, beans, and turkey.
Since dopamine is a neurotransmitter, it’s simple to believe that it is only present in the brain. However, probiotics can be beneficial because your stomach also affects dopamine levels. There is proof that a healthy balance of gut bacteria favorably affects mood. On the other hand, an imbalance is frequently associated with various mood-related problems.
Probiotics are found naturally in foods like yogurt and kefir, but many companies sell them as dietary supplements. Probiotic supplements are beneficial for your overall health. They help you maintain a healthy immune system and keep your digestion running smoothly. Some studies suggest that probiotics may reduce symptoms of depression.
Dopamine is a crucial neurotransmitter that plays a role in determining your disposition and your sensations of reward and motivation. Additionally, it assists in the regulation of the body’s movements.
If you’re having trouble finding the drive to live life to the fullest, you may be able to use the power of dopamine to your advantage. This article has covered many ways to increase dopamine. You can not follow all the ways, but we recommend trying to follow as many natural ways to increase dopamine as possible.
You’ll be happier, healthier, and more productive when you start working with your body’s natural processes!
Featured photo credit: Adam Winger via unsplash.com
|Department of Health & Human Sciences USA: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd edition
|NIH: Effect of magnesium on calcium-dependent brain function that prolongs ethanol-induced sleeping time in mice
|NIH: Sunshine-exposure variation of human striatal dopamine D(2)/D(3) receptor availability in healthy volunteers
|PsyPost: Listening to the music you love will make your brain release more dopamine, study finds
|NIH: Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness
|Research Gate: Meditation and anxiety reduction: A literature review
|Scientific American: Sleep Deprived? Mind your dopamine
|Springer Link: Human physiological responses to immersion into water of different temperatures