How to fix your raging dopamine addiction

In our society, we’re constantly bombarded with things that are designed to spike our dopamine levels. From fast food, to sugar, to shopping, to scrolling on social media, our world is full of things that give us a quick hit of dopamine, the neurochemical which is responsible for feelings of pleasure and motivation.

Dopamine is a naturally-occurring hormone, but our modern life is designed to give us an unnatural number of sources. Everything in our world has been modified to maximize the dopamine-triggering stimuli that we encounter in our day.

As great as it is to be able top get a dopamine hit wherever we turn, there is an unpleasant after-effect to this as well, which is the comedown. You know how after we do anything that triggers the dopamine response, you crave it even more afterwards? Yeah, that’s the comedown. It creates a response similar to pain, which motivates you to seek even more dopamine. The convenient sources that we’re surrounded by 24/7 have turned us into a bunch of junkies who are living in a perpetual rollercoaster of seeking a quick hit, then finding one, and the cycle repeats endlessly. Modern society has programmed everyone to be hopelessly addicted to cheap, low-quality dopamine highs.

Repeated exposure to the pleasure-filled state of dopamine highs leads to us being in a dopamine deficit where we are desensitized to the highs, and eventually we need more just to feel “normal” and not in pain. This cycle can lead to psychological symptoms like depression, anxiety and insomnia, all of which are becoming increasingly prevalent in our society.

So what can we do to break this cycle? It turns out there’s quite a few modifications we can make to lower the unnatural abundance of dopamine spikes we encounter in a day.

First, limit your consumption of substances like sugar, caffeine, fast food, alcohol and marijuana. A lot of people are unaware of how frequently they consume these substances and what a large quantity they are actually consuming; becoming more more mindful of what’s going into your body, and making sure you prioritize nourishment over pleasure, is the foundation of stabilizing your dopamine levels.

Next, limit the short-form video content you are consuming. This particular format overloads your sensory receptors and maximizes the subsequent dopamine response to an harmful level.

Finally, prioritize endorphin-stimulating activities like physical exercise. Working out regularly gives the same dopamine response as the unhealthy alternatives, except that when you have to work for your reward, it doesn’t send you into the same rollercoaster of highs-and-lows which immediately leaves you craving more.

Admittedly, exercising can at first seem difficult and unlikely to satisfy in the same way that video games or Netflix would. But when you stick with it and begin to see results of your efforts, those results become your motivation.

These might seem like obvious tips, but you’d be surprised how few people actually practice these patterns as a routine. Try it out for a while, and I promise the chokehold that our dopamine-triggering society has on you will be alleviated.

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