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What is Dopamine Fasting?

What is Dopamine Fasting?

How to do a Dopamine Fast


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter our bodies make and which our nervous systems use to send messages between nerve cells. Dopamine and neurotransmitters are often referred to as chemical messengers. Dopamine plays a role in how we feel good feelings and pleasure and it's a big part of our human ability to think and plan, it helps us to strive, focus and it's what makes us curious and makes us find things interesting. 

Dopamine is made in the brain through a two step process where in the amino acid tyrosine is changed to a substance called dopa and then into dopamine and it affects how we learn, motivation, sleep, our moods, and our attention. Too much or too little dopamine can cause mental health issues such as schizophrenia, ADHD and even drug addiction. 


Dopamine Fasting in simple terms is when people attempt to obstain from things or activities which A. provide instant gratification, and B. things which you normally enjoy doing, this could be things like alcohol, sex, masturbation, gaming, eating foods you enjoy, or even spending time on the internet or social media. The idea behind Dopamine Fasting is to "reset" your neurochemical system by de-stimulating it. These days we're spending more time online and on social media than ever before and the interest in dopamine fasting or doing a dopamine detox has really picked up on places like Reddit where users share tips and their experiences from undergoing a Dopamine Detox. 


So while the science is still somewhat out on this, it's generally believed that Dopamine Fasts don't work, at least not in the way they are sometimes advertised to work. While levels of Dopamine do rise in response to rewards or pleasurable activities, it doesn't actually decrease when you avoid these activities or when you decrease overstimulation, so a Dopamine Fast doesn't actually lower your Dopamine Levels. With that being said some users do find that it works for them. Here's a theory of how it works, let's say you have an important test coming up maybe it's an MCAT, maybe it's the SAT's that isn't important. If leading up to the test ou don't listen to music in the car or when you exercise, you eat  bland diet, you don't play your video games or ride your motorcycle, at some point everything becomes very boring. If you get bored do another boring activity, stare at a wall, watch grass grow, meditate, or even talk to your grandpa. You're going to wind up being very starved of stimulation. Now leading up to this important test, in theory, your mental focus and mental stamina are going to skyrocket as your brain detoxes from quick easy dopamine hits. When that test finally winds up rolling around it's going to be the most exciting thing you've done in a while and you're going to walk out of that multi-hour long test feeling like you just took a pop quiz. Here's the best comparison or analogy I can give you. If you watch baseball you know when the guy up to bat is standing in the on deck circle he'll often be either swinging two or three bats, or he'll put a weighted donut at the end of a bat and take his practice swings with added weight. When he finally gets up to the plate and is swinging a single bat or a bat without weights it feels like it's very light. The weight of the bat hasn't actually changed, however that players perception of the weight of the bat has changed. That's a similar concept to the Dopamine Fast. 


So you're sold on the idea of doing a Dopamine Fast and you want to try it out for yourself. There's no hard and fast rules to what a Dopamine Fast is and there's not necessarily a right or wrong way to do a Dopamine Fast. So you can start with a shorter period of time, but most people who've found Dopamine Fasting to be beneficial have done it for somewhere between 2 and 12 weeks. You can try it for a few days, but you likely won't get the most from it unless you do it for a more prolonged period of time, 30 days would probably be a good starting point. 

First, try cutting out anything that puts you in "Zombie Mode" this includes things like using Social Media, sites like TikTok, Reddit, Youtube. Stop bing watching Netflix, stop playing video games, cut out porn and masturbation and if you're significant other can get by without you even cut out sex. You'll likely find you have a lot of extra time on your hands and it will likely be eye opening how much time you waste playing "Vidya Games" or mindlessly scrolling through social media. If you get bored do some work around the house, clean behind the fridge, detail your car, take on some projects around the home you've been putting off. While some people do like reading others suggest you should cut out reading as well. 

To fill the void and fill your time try to take on activities that you've been putting off for some time, or that aren't necessarily exciting to you. Call your mom or dad or grandma, call an old friend you haven't talked to in a while, do some volunteer work, go for a walk, do some journaling or exercise. 


So if you're on the fence about trying this, some signs you need a dopamine detox are similar to the signs of addiction, if you don't feel good about how you spend your time, or if you aren't even enjoying what your doing and are just doing it out of habit, that's a good sign you need a dopamine detox. Dopamine Fasting isn't necessarily some magical wizardry, it's a temporary solution that helps you to rethink your relationship with digital devices and with addictive or habitual behaviors. Be prepared for the first few days to be tough, you'll likely be bored, however if you can stick it out you'll likely find you have an increased attention span and have more excitement and enthusiasm for life. 

John has years worth of experience working in the nutrition and supplement industry and has been working out and weight training since his teens. His other areas of expertise are SEO and Digital Marketing and when he's not in front of a screen John enjoys exploring the outdoors hiking and paddleboarding. 

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