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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
Studies have shown meditation has benefits against a range of conditions both physical and mental, including depression, chronic pain, and anxiety. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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
- 15 Fast and Easy Ways to Boost Mental Energy Levels
- 5 Ways Sugar Affects Your Mental Performance
- How To Manage Your Mental Energy
Featured photo credit: Adam Winger via unsplash.com
|||^||ScienceAdvances: Nature and mental health: An ecosystem service perspective|
|||^||HealthLine: 13 Ways to Increase Endorphins|
|||^||PubMed.gov: Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness|
|||^||The Harvard Gazette: When science meets mindfulness|
|||^||PsyPost: Listening to the music you love will make your brain release more dopamine, study finds|
|||^||BBC: Music ‘releases mood-enhancing chemical in the brain|
|||^||HealthLine: 10 Best Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally|
|||^||Scientific American: Sleep Deprived? Mind your dopamine|