#18: "Dopamine Fasting" aka. How to trick your brain to do hard things!

May 12, 2020
 The Obstacle/Problem: We easily scroll through our social media feed, play video games, and binge watch TV shows for hours, but then try and study or focus on something hard, and it feels like we're pulling teeth. So how do we get better at doing “hard” things?
The Challenge: Schedule in regular technology breaks, a dopamine detox/vacation or “Dopamine fasting” as it’s been popularized. In short, reduce “high dopamine” behaviors to help balance sensitivity to dopamine and norepinephrine and other brain chemicals so we’re not compulsive with technology, social media, gaming, internet porn(which is extremely addictive), sugar/caffeine, etc. (note- we’re not doctors, don’t pretend to be ones, and recognize that how the body affects the mind, and the mind the body, are obviously complex processes…) However, I don’t think anyone would argue that our behaviors and actions influence our moods and feelings, and motivation. So the goal is to “fast” from things that have been proven to be emotionally and psychologically… troublesome/triggering, to help us be more present, mindful, have less stress, be happier and have more motivation.
The Intent: In doing this is to help us take back our “Hijacked/frenzied” brains so we can better focus, get more happiness and pleasure out of life, and as one person described “trick our brains to like doing hard things.” (aka. be more mindful of the choices we’re making)
The Plan: To pick a day, or an hour every day, and have a fast from/cut out anything this is a “High Dopamine” activity. For me, it’s basically cutting out my phone. Social Media, browsing the internet, television, listening to the latest COVID-update, podcast, etc. And DO- journaling/writing, letters, walks, meditate, be more present with whoever you’re with, etc..
(caveat- during COVID-19 many people are home alone without social contact. So “No SocialMedia” certainly needs to be taken with a grain of salt. We are social beings! and loneliness and very little social stimulation can be potent stressors. However, like all things in life, it’s not simply black and white, good and bad. There are MANY good benefits from Social Media and technology that hasten progress and keeps us informed and connected. But there are some drawbacks and unwanted consequences as well.
The Desired Result: The neural transmitters in our brain become more accustomed to normal levels of dopamine. Aka- we get more motivation and pleasure from doing “normal” things.

Great links, videos, articles, etc.-

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