Do you know the reason why you just can’t stop checking up on your social media accounts or have a constant urge to check how many people viewed the last story you posted on Instagram?
And what happens when you eventually have to do things that are less stimulating, can you open a book and read it for half an hour without checking your mobile phone?
The answer is probably a big fat NO.
To understand why binge-watching your favourite show on Netflix or scrolling through social media seems much easier than reading that book you have been trying to complete for months, we need to look at a chemical in your brain known as Dopamine.
Read this article till the end because I will be sharing a personal bonus tip that has helped me get through Dopamine Detox successfully.
What the hell is dopamine
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by nerves in your brain.
At first, Dopamine was thought to be the pleasure chemical in your brain, being released when you do something that brings you happiness.
But recently researchers associate it more with motivation than happiness and thus an important part of a larger reward system in our brain.
To break this down, let me give you guys an example.
You hear the sound of text notification, and you want to see what the text says. That’s because the notification sound has triggered dopamine.
The text itself might not be a message that brings you happiness.
While the notification sound may give you a short hit of dopamine, it can be distracting and distressing if it goes too far.
If you feel like you are drawn in by social media or another source of constant dopamine which constantly retriggers the state of desire, you might want to escape and that brings us to Dopamine Detox.
What the hell is dopamine detox
For those of you who don't know what a dopamine detox is, it's basically when you stop all your addictive habits like video games, sugary foods, pornography, smoking, drinking, watching TV, or using social media for a period of time to reset the receptors in your brain.
You are basically retraining your brain to lower your tolerance to dopamine so all the "hard things" you want to do like reading an assignment or exercise become more pleasurable to you.
To start off a dopamine detox, pick a day in the week to avoid all the highly stimulating activities.
Let your mind be at peace and let it recover from the constant high levels of dopamine.
When’s the last time you sat in silence to experience your own thoughts
When you are walking around, in public transport or in the elevator – your first intention might be to grab your phone and browse your e-mail, messages, and social media – searching for dopamine.
So, you need to set a day aside, without internet, phone, laptop, music, junk food, and porn.
Now you might be thinking about what I am supposed to do, well you can exercise, walk, meditate, write, study, read a book, clean your room, or have a good conversation with your friends or family.
I know that this is not easy, you will soon begin to crave the addictive behaviours you’ve been doing for years, but radical actions lead to radical results.
What you need to do is connect more dopamine releases to activities that benefit you: exercising, reading a book – serving as an incentive to give you long-term benefits serving as an incentive to give you long-term benefits.
don’t set yourself up to fail
Have 1 hour at the end of the day where you do something fun.
Work towards this 1 hour throughout the day. You'll find you are way more focused because your brain becomes surprisingly effective when it thinks it’s getting a reward. Sometimes people have an initial resistance to the one hour, they seem to think they can go from 0 to 100% productive.
Self-improvement just doesn’t work like that, been there, tried it, and seen others try it. You can’t go "monk mode" just like that, monks spend their entire life working towards that.
By having one hour at the end of the day, you can still go 90%.
So, track all the low dopamine activities that you do: cleaning your room, reading a book, working, exercising.
And after completing them, reward yourself with some high dopamine activity for one hour.
Personal bonus tip that will make your dopamine detox journey much more pleasurable.
Something that has been helping me a lot in solving jigsaw puzzles.
They are mildly stimulating and are also good for your brain, jigsaw puzzles are proven to improve cognition and visual-spatial reasoning.
The act of putting the pieces of a puzzle together requires concentration and improves short-term memory and problem-solving.
In the end, I would just like to say that a tiny bit of progress is better than none at all.
Getting rid of addictive behaviours is not an all-or-nothing situation. Even cutting off one small bad habit can lead to big changes in your lifestyle.