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Published on April 19, 2021

6 Natural Ways To Increase Dopamine And Boost Mental Energy

6 Natural Ways To Increase Dopamine And Boost Mental Energy
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Why is dopamine important and how do you increase dopamine production in your body?

Dopamine is a brain chemical your body uses to influence your mood and feelings of reward, higher function, and motivation. As a result, you will find that the natural ways to increase dopamine in your body can also be used to help you work more efficiently and productively. It can also help you maintain your focus and determination when things become difficult and your willpower falters.

In addition, you will find in this list ways to increase dopamine—ways to increase your overall mental and physical health. Since your dopamine levels are tied to your body’s overall health in many ways, it is impossible to separate your motivation and focus from your body’s overall health and ability to achieve your goals.

1. Get Moving

Studies show exercise is a great way to naturally increase dopamine levels. In addition to releasing dopamine, exercise is shown to improve mood and boost endorphin levels.

The frequency and intensity of the exercise needed to increase dopamine levels are not certain. Most people recommend making exercise a regular part of your daily activities. On some days, you may go to the gym or on a light jog. On other days, you could go on a short walk or attend a yoga class. You don’t necessarily need to overexert yourself to feel the benefits.

If your career does not lend itself to exercise, look for ways to incorporate movement each day. You could take the stairs instead of the elevator. Consider adding steps to your day by parking in the back of the parking lot instead of in the front. If you can spare ten minutes out of your busy day, take a walk around your neighborhood.

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2. Get Some Fresh Air

There is something relaxing about being outside. The benefits are plentiful because being outside allows you to get fresh air, sunlight, and a chance to meditate (more on this later). Countless studies have shown that nature has a positive impact on mental health.[1] Taking a break from the daily grind and appreciating nature will reduce your negative emotions and improve your mood.

Within a few minutes of being outside, your production of the cortisol stress hormones will decrease. At the same time, your production of endorphins and dopamine will increase.[2] Not to mention, it is recommended that you spend 10 to 30 minutes outside each day for vitamin D.

3. Become One With Yourself

Meditation is the process of clearing your mind and allowing your thoughts to grow without judgment. There are so many forms of meditation that you can meditate while standing, sitting, or even walking.

Studies show a 65% increase in dopamine from participants who meditated for one hour.[3] The 65% increase was in comparison to simply sitting quietly. It is important to recognize that while there are many forms of meditation, sitting quietly is not meditating.

Meditation involves the focus and control of thoughts. If you are practicing a form of concentration meditation, which is continually focusing on one particular item around you, it may become difficult as your eyes begin to lose focus. But you must refocus them to the best of your abilities.

If you are practicing a form of mindfulness meditation, you are being present in the moment. The basic premise is that you focus on your five senses because your senses are always in the present. For example, you can focus on the birds you hear chirping, the leaves you see blowing or the way the carpet feels under your feet.

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Studies have shown meditation has benefits against a range of conditions both physical and mental, including depression, chronic pain, and anxiety.[4] By addressing these conditions, it opens the door for you to increase dopamine levels.

The process of meditation tends to help you appreciate life. This level of gratitude is also going to help you naturally increase dopamine production.

4. Have Fun With Music

Listening to music you enjoy is also shown to naturally increase dopamine in your body.[5] Like most of the solutions you have read about in this article, dopamine is tied to habits that are good for you and put you in a good mood.

Much of the research surrounding music and its ability to increase dopamine levels is tied to classical music. This does not necessarily mean that music with lyrics does not increase dopamine. But it does mean if you want to be extra certain about whether you are stimulating your dopamine levels, then listening to instrumental music is best.[6]

If you don’t find yourself naturally listening to music, you can find ways to incorporate music while performing other activities. As someone who rarely listens to music while driving, I can understand the dilemma. My car is usually playing audiobooks when I am driving without my children. That is why playing instrumental music while writing, researching, or working fits best into my schedule.

You could listen to music while walking or play music when you are meditating. The goal is not for you to completely change your day around but to find simple ways to naturally increase dopamine.

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5. Enjoy Eating the Two P’s

Your body creates dopamine with the amino acids in your body. These amino acids are found in foods like eggs, soy, beef, dairy, and legumes. Research shows that eating foods rich in protein can increase the amount of dopamine your body produces. Conversely, if you have a diet that does not include protein, you can exhaust your dopamine supply completely.[7]

In addition to more protein, you want to consume more probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you. While that may not sound appetizing, probiotics are really good for your digestive system and you will find them in supplements and foods like yogurt. Your body is full of good and bad bacteria, so you want to find ways to add more helpful bacteria when you can.

6. Rest After a Good Day’s Work

When it comes to good health, good sleep health is the cornerstone of overall health. It is recommended that healthy adults get approximately 8 hours of sleep each night. When you have the proper amount of rest, you wake up sharp and your mind is alert and focused.

Studies show when you first wake up after a good night of sleep, your dopamine levels are at their highest. Then, as the day goes on, your coordination and concentration begin to fade—along with your dopamine levels.[8] Therefore, it should be no surprise that getting the proper amount of sleep is a great way to naturally increase dopamine levels.

When you are working towards something, it can be tempting to compromise on your sleep. You feel you only have so many hours in the day and you need those extra hours. Heck, you may go as far as to feel those are your most productive hours.

The truth is, they could be. If you are working on starting a business and you have a daytime job or a young family, then your best time is probably in the evening. Just know you are sacrificing your mental efficiency and dopamine when you don’t consistently get 8 hours of sleep, and you shouldn’t plan to do so for long periods of time.

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Final Thoughts

There are a variety of ways to increase dopamine levels. Throughout this article, you have likely noticed your dopamine levels are tied to your overall health.

As you do things to improve your overall health, your dopamine levels increase. Sleeping, healthy eating, and spending time being active are all things that are good for you.

In addition to the many benefits that each provides, they can also help boost your dopamine levels. In other words, you feel better as you get better. Dopamine is involved in your reward, motivation, memory, and concentration functions. These functions are going to improve or decline based on how well you treat your body.

More Tips on How to Boost Mental Energy

Featured photo credit: Adam Winger via unsplash.com

Reference

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Last Updated on August 4, 2021

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity
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We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus better? How to concentrate and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

Here’re 4 essential ways to help you focus:

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

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Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

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Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

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Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

More Tips About Improving Focus

Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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