Fasting has become very popular, but it’s not just nutrition fasting that can improve your health: Dopamine fasting can too.
Things like intermittent fasting have become very popular in the last few years. This is a time-restricted form of eating that can have some tremendous health benefits including weight loss, better hormonal profiles, better insulin sensitivity, along with improved cognitive function.
When it comes to your mental health and overall well-being, the same fasting approach might work well but done with dopamine. This article will look at dopamine fasting, what it is, how it works, and if it really is beneficial or not.
What Is Dopamine?
The best way to look at dopamine is like a feel-good hormone. Technically, it’s a neurotransmitter and your nervous system uses it so that your nerve cells can communicate with one another. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that plays a role in you feeling good and happy. But dopamine goes beyond just being about pleasure; it’s actually important in day-to-day life. The dopamine hormone is important for helping you learn and remember things and also allows us to focus.
Dopamine is also very important for the human condition, including motivating us and giving us the drive to succeed. It helps us to think and plan things out. It also helps us to find things interesting, and it’s probably why you have an interest in the job you do or the hobbies you follow.
When it comes to dopamine, you want a balanced level of it. Too much or too little can be a bad thing. If you have too little dopamine, it can lead to conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
Why Would You Need Dopamine Fasting?
The problem in this day-in-age is that we have become dopamine junkies. We are getting into dopamine overload because there are too many things that stimulate – more than is necessary. Whenever you get a text message notification on your phone, you get a little hit of dopamine. This is why we are so drawn to check our phones all the time: we want the dopamine hit.
The problem is, so many things can trigger a dopamine response – especially all the technology around us. Social media is a big culprit of dopamine overload, and our brains are struggling to catch up with it. We are stimulated so much each day and a lot of this stuff didn’t exist hundreds of years ago – let alone even 10-15 years ago. Our brains are having trouble processing this much dopamine and it’s causing problems.
All the likes, comments, retweets, and engagement on social media are sending our brains into overdrive. This doesn’t even include the natural dopamine responses that come from things like love and food. Our food is becoming a massive dopamine problem too because of so much artificially designed hyper-palatable foods. Our brains are no match for all these chemicals and enhanced tastes. Not only are our bodies becoming addicted to it – our brains are too.
All this constant dopamine release is making us drug addicts for it and we’re constantly chasing the next dopamine response. This is making us neurotic, impulsive, distracted, and stressed. It’s making us desensitized to dopamine meaning we need more and more of it each time and this is having a very negative impact on the quality of life.
How Does Dopamine Fasting Work?
Experts say that the only way to level out these sky-high levels of dopamine is to take a break from them – or fast. There are a few approaches to this including fasting from dopamine for a few hours, a few days, even a week. If you constantly need to check social media, are always online shopping, or craving sugary foods – you probably need some dopamine fasting.
Neuroscientist Don Vaughn says the best way to approach dopamine fasting is to find out how much time away from all this stimulating stuff is best for you. The approach you take can also be determined by what type of person you are. If you’re an introvert, you could be best served by reading a book or taking a long walk out in nature.
An extrovert may prefer some social interaction and get that important face-to-face interaction instead of through a screen. Whatever type of person you are, you need to find a distraction that you genuinely find interesting – but the important thing is that it gets you away from all those overly compelling distractions.
So the best thing is to start with a short fast. Just take a few hours away from your phone or anything that’s too distracting. From there you can turn off your phone at night so you’re not tempted to check it all hours. It may be best to wait an hour until after you’ve woken up to have a look.
Then you can start taking a few days trying to avoid all forms of social media, manufactured junk foods, and overly stimulating things. Do a trial run with these different approaches and make a note of what feels best for you.
Dopamine fasting really appears to work. There’s no secret that we are bombarded with too much stimulation through technology and a fast-paced environment. Dopamine fasting can not only be a great way to help reset this powerful neurotransmitter, but you may come to find you prefer stepping away from everything that’s too addicting. This can be a great time to get back out into nature and to feed your body only the freshest, natural things out there.
Your body and your mind will thank you for it.
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