A lot of people turn to substance abuse because they want to forget painful experiences or get over their depression. Using drugs is a way for them to seek pleasure and feel high. This becomes possible because most of these addictive substances raise the brain chemical responsible for making you experience happiness, pleasure, euphoria, and bliss. This chemical is called ‘dopamine’, also known as the happy hormone.
When dopamine levels in the brain are low, this can affect your mood, attention, sleep, and overall behavior. It can also cause you to feel more depressed and lethargic. But do you know that it is actually possible to raise your dopamine levels without resorting to illegal substances? According to studies, natural methods can help you increase your dopamine by at least 50 to 100 percent. Here are easy and practical ways even you can do!
1. Have a regular exercise routine
Numerous studies have shown that exercise can help boost dopamine in the brain. Exercising regularly for at least 20 minutes can help in improving your mood and mental health in general. Exercise also helps in increasing the production of new brain cells as well as slows down the aging of brain cells.
Of course, another benefit of exercise is increased strength, mobility, flexibility, and overall fitness. When your body is fit and strong, you’ll have more energy to do productive things and have less risk of pain and injury.
2. Eat more protein, bananas, avocados, and almonds
These foods are rich in tyrosine which is an amino acid that plays an important role in dopamine production. According to studies, enzymes in the human body have the capability to transform tyrosine into dopamine that’s why it’s is helpful to have sufficient levels of tyrosine in the body.
Other foods that may help in increasing dopamine production are velvet beans, yogurt, kefir, and other food products high in probiotics. It is also advised to avoid food high in saturated fat or those containing aspartame as this may decrease dopamine.
While getting enough sleep seems to be an obvious piece of advice to achieve better health, many people fail to get the required amount of shuteye. There are those who fail to sleep the recommended 7 to 9 hours a day because of overworking, while there are also those who forego sleep because they’d rather browse through social media, watch reality TV, or play video games.
However, sleep is extra important if you want to maintain your dopamine levels. According to research, not having enough sleep has been shown to lessen the concentrations of neurotransmitters in the brain and their receptors – and this includes dopamine! No wonder why you always feel grumpy when you haven’t had enough sleep. So if you want to stay happy, sleep!
4. Practice meditation
There have been many studies that showed how meditation can actually help in growing your happiness. Meditation apparently shapes the brain so your dopamine levels are increased and you develop more positive thoughts. There is also research that proves how mindfulness meditation can help in addiction recovery.
5. Have a massage
Splurging on a massage might just be worth it because according to science, this can increase your dopamine levels by as much as 30%. Getting a massage has also been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol while increasing your happy hormone. If you need a picker-upper, a trip to the spa might just be a good idea.
6. Show your pet affection
Have you ever wondered why petting your dog calms you down and improves your mood? Just like a massage, touch, in general, can increase your dopamine levels. If you have a pet dog or cat (or maybe you have a friend who does), spend time with them and stroke them. This can both give you and your pet a dopamine boost and reduce your stress.
7. Music therapy
If you’re feeling down, get Beyoncé or Maroon 5 to help you out. A quick and easy way to get a dopamine boost is to enjoy your favorite beats. Studies have shown that listening to music can increase dopamine levels which result in improved mood, boosted energy, and increased pleasurable feelings.
8. Go out in the sun
Something as simple as getting out in the sun can help increase your happy hormone and this is backed by science. It is however required that you get sunlight into your eyes to trigger the dopamine release and to get a bigger boost. Of course, don’t forget to put your sunblock!
9. Please stand up
Sitting down for long hours is not only a health risk that leads to fatigue, but it can also lower the levels of dopamine in your brain. If you work in an office and you’re stuck to your desk the entire day, make it a habit to stand up and walk around at least once every half an hour.
Aside from benefitting your dopamine levels, taking micro-breaks have also been shown to increase productivity as it allows you to recharge and refocus.
10. Get a cold shower
This is something that’s very easy to do yet it can have amazing effects. According to studies, taking a cold shower with water at 57 degrees Fahrenheit can increase your dopamine levels up to 250 percent! Showering using cold water has also been associated with increased energy and productivity.
If you are feeling depressed or unhappy due to your substance abuse problems, help is available. You can contact Anaheim Lighthouse to learn more about our specialized treatment programs.