Did you make any resolutions for 2022?
Maybe, with the best intentions in mind, you carefully picked certain healthy habits you wanted to start implementing so that you could finally…
Have more energy and stop feeling so tired all the time, or start losing that stubborn weight that has been holding you back for years, or spend less time on your phone and more time connecting with your family and friends.
Maybe some of your resolutions looked like this…
“I will go to bed earlier and get more sleep.”
“I will call my parents once a week.”
“I will work out 4 days a week for 30 min.”
“I will play with my kids more frequently.”
“I will take 10,000 steps every day this year.”
So, now that we are a few months into the year, how are you doing with your new year's resolutions?
Are you still working towards them or have they fallen to the wayside?
Maybe you really wanted to follow through but it was difficult because you have been struggling to sleep at night, find yourself having intense sugar cravings, lack energy, and generally feel kind of depressed.
You may feel that you’ve let yourself down, but the truth is you may be struggling with low dopamine production.
When you’re struggling with an imbalance like low dopamine, it can be almost impossible to complete tasks, follow through on goals, maintain regular exercise, and even make healthy food choices.
Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter in the brain. It’s involved in memory, motivation, attention, reward, and even how we move our bodies.
When dopamine is released in our bodies, it creates feelings of motivation, pleasure, and reward. It plays a major role in our ability to repeat specific behaviors due to the pleasant sensations we feel in return.
We often feel a release of dopamine upon completing a specific task, or by meeting a goal that we’ve worked hard for.
However, when dopamine levels are low, that’s when we start to have less motivation, and sometimes just an overall depressed outlook on life.
This is why it is important to recognize the signs of low dopamine.
Here are the hallmark signs of low dopamine levels:
When our dopamine production is low, our body really craves it and starts looking for easy ways to feel good again- like a “quick fix”.
A great example of a quick fix is sugar. Sugar artificially raises our dopamine levels and makes us feel good and satisfied…for a while at least. However, when we burn the sugar off we are right back down to where we started.
We want to avoid these superficial ways of producing dopamine because not only is it short-lived, but it also can encourage bad habits that keep us from achieving our goals.
It isn’t just important that we understand what dopamine does, but also for us to understand how to preserve the dopamine that we do make and what we can do to increase dopamine production with natural and holistic methods.
One of our objectives is always to help our clients feel better while also helping them to improve their health and well-being by creating healthy and sustainable habits.
Here are our five favorite healthy ways to naturally raise your dopamine production and begin feeling more motivated, focused, and most importantly to begin feeling the sense of reward that we crave.
1. Get High-Quality Sleep. When you do not regularly get high-quality sleep, it actually starts to disrupt systems in your body like dopamine production. This is why it is really important to create a healthy sleep routine.
I encourage you to begin by turning off your bright overhead lighting as early as possible and instead utilize candlelight or red light. Red light naturally lowers our cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
I also encourage you to introduce calming activities before bed like reading a book or journaling to wind down before falling asleep.
2. Get Sunlight in the Morning. I know this one can feel hard when the weather is cold and overcast, but the sun is so powerful that even on a cloudy day you can still reap the benefits.
Sunlight and the act of getting out into nature daily can greatly improve dopamine production. I suggest taking a 5-10 minute walk every day, however, if you cannot do that you will still benefit from simply staring out your window.
3. Eat Adequate Protein. Protein is made up of important building blocks called amino acids. One amino acid crucial for dopamine production is called Tyrosine. Tyrosine can be found naturally in protein-rich foods like turkey, chicken, and beef.
Iron and B6 are 2 other necessities for dopamine production. Animal proteins are often an excellent source of iron and B6. If you avoid meat in your diet, you can also find iron and B6 in wheat germ, oats, bananas, soybeans, and nuts.
4. Anchor Rewards: This is a really satisfying way to maintain your dopamine levels on a daily basis. I like to start by creating goals (large or small) and assigning some kind of reward to each goal.
The rewards that I choose are always something that I can incorporate into my daily life like a new shirt from my favorite brand, a piece of artwork to hang in my home, or a new device I can utilize to make progress in a hobby or at work.
The act of meeting my goals fulfills that need for completion which triggers dopamine production, and the anchor goals are daily reminders of my accomplishments and keep me motivated to accomplish more.
5. Volunteering. Just like the old saying you get back what you give, when you spend time helping others or contributing to your community that will also increase your dopamine production.
I recommend volunteering on a regular basis. Giving back to the community creates a sense of gratitude that spreads to those you are helping as well as to yourself!
All of these habits will help you to improve and maintain your dopamine production while also helping you to improve your overall health. I encourage you to try these methods out and see how quickly your motivation levels begin to ramp up.
Of course, there are situations in which you are unable to make some of these changes or you have a physical imbalance that requires more attention.
In cases like this, it may be necessary to introduce supplementation or even to conduct some lab testing to determine an underlying issue.
If you feel that you may be struggling with low dopamine production or a chemical imbalance and want some direction, we would love to be of service!
Together we can work to help you increase your motivation, meet your goals, and increase your dopamine production so you can live life to its fullest!
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If you’re ready to say “YES – I want to feel good again!” so that you can be present with your family and live a longer, more fulfilled, and purpose-driven life…
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