Did you forget something again today?
Are you feeling less motivated to complete that project?
Do you often feel tired, light-headed, and disconnected?
Are you having a difficult time getting going in the morning?
Having tremors or balance problems?
Living a flat “flat line” where nothing feels good but nothing feels wrong, too?
Craving for caffeine and sugar too often?
Anxious all the time?
If you answer yes to at least three of these questions, you may be running low on dopamine.
The absence of dopamine in the brain tends to make one moody, depressed, sluggish, uncoordinated, and unable to feel pleasure.
So go get your mojo back by increasing the dopamine level in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter “whose absence lowers drive and hurts motor control.” This brain chemical is involved in regulating movement, control of attention, and our pleasure seeking behavior. There are many ways to boost your brain’s dopamine supply and below are 18 of the safest ways to increase your dopamine level naturally.
- Eat apples. An apple a day keeps the doctor, and the gloom, away. Quercetin, which is an antioxidant, is a plant pigment or flavanoid found in apples. This is a potent antioxidant that stimulates dopamine production as evidenced by a study done on the effect of bioflavonoid quercetin on Parkinson’s disease.
- Eat ripe bananas. This fruit has a high concentration of tyrosine which is an amino acid used to synthesize dopamine. As bananas ripen and become sweeter, the tyrosine content becomes greater and more potent. Other fruits that trigger dopamine production are strawberries, prunes, and blueberries. Eat plenty of various fruits for better results because dopamine is easily oxidized so your body will need more antioxidants from fruits to help protect the dopamine-using neurons from free radicals.
- Refresh with a watermelon shake or smoothie. Watermelon is a good source of tyrosine. This fat-free fruit also contains high amount of vitamin B6 that facilitates the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine. And as its name suggests, this fruit is 92 percent water so it can effectively quench your thirst and keep you hydrated. Quick trivia: did you know that watermelon juice is the the new Viagra? Surprising but true. Italian scientists found that there is a high concentration of the amino acid citrulline in watermelons. This amino acid is found to improve blood flow to the male’s sex organ leading to a stronger erection and increased sex drive. And it’s no secret that orgasm boosts dopamine and other brain neurotransmitters. Also, because dopamine is the reward and pleasure neurotransmitter, it plays a strong role in libido, motivation, and energy to be more active in bed.
- Include enough protein in your diet. Elicit dopamine production in the brain by eating protein. The amino acids needed by the brain to produce dopamine can be commonly found in meats and wild-caught fish. Benefit from the tyrosine you get from beef, chicken, eggs, and cheese. The omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught, fatty fish have been shown to elevate dopamine levels in the brain. So satisfy your craving for a salmon, a striped bass, tuna, or rainbow trout. Turkey also contains enough tyrosine to increase dopamine. The proteins in meat have amino acids that facilitate healthy dopamine levels in your brain. Include protein in your diet and give your brain the needed amino acids to synthesize dopamine.
- Increase your intake of folate-rich vegetables. Make sure you include artichokes, avocados, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, chickpeas, lentils, spinach, and black beans in your diet. Beets contain a large amount of betaine which is an amino acid that stimulates the production of S-adenoslmethionine which helps produce dopamine and serotonin.
- Exercise regularly. A 30-minute walk around the neighborhood can significantly increase your blood calcium which will then stimulate dopamine release in your brain. Exercise can boost the production of new brain cell receptors which will then raise the baseline levels of dopamine. Ever heard of the “runner’s high?” After an intense physical activity like an athlete’s long and tiring run is the sensation of bliss. This is because endorphins are released in response to physical stress. The endorphins react with all sorts of systems in your brain. It can help lessen the pain after a long workout and stimulate the reward-related areas in your brain, which in turn facilitates dopamine release.
So exercise daily. There’s no need to live in a gym, do long-distance running or train every single day. Walking the dog around the village, morning runs, playing sports and gentle exercises like yoga and Pilates will do.
- Take more probiotics. Apparently, the health of your intestinal flora influences the production of neurotransmitters including dopamine of course. Accumulation of bad bacteria can leave toxic byproducts like the lipopolysaccharides that weaken your immune system and lower your dopamine level. So increase your intake of foods high in natural probiotics such as yogurt, kefir and kimchi.
- Control your sweet tooth. Although sweets can stimulate your happy hormones and give you an instant energy boost, too much sugar can deplete your dopamine level and alter your brain chemistry. Balance is the key.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Coffee can give you an energy boost, that’s true. However, that is just temporary relief. After the initial kick it offers, the dopamine level in your body decreases. What do you feel after the caffeine-induced adrenaline wears off? Don’t you feel weary and exhausted? So you get another cup of coffee, cola, or energy drink only to feel irritable and anxious once the stimulant effect of caffeine wears off again. So you enter the cycle and may get dependent on caffeine. Crashing from an adrenaline rush and caffeine withdrawal precipitates cortisol build up. This gives you the same symptoms of chronic stress – anxiety, fatigue, irritability and weakened immunity which all causes a decrease of dopamine level in the motor-related areas in your brain.
- Drink tea instead, preferably the green one. The L-theanine component found in green tea can increase the level of dopamine as well as serotonin and GABA in your brain. The polyphenols in green tea can also protect dopamine-producing neurons from stress.
- Skip the junk food. If you wish to increase or maintain the right dopamine level in your brain over the long-term, avoid simple carbohydrates found in chips and store-bought cookies. A research from Scripps Research Institute already examined the connection between high-fat diet and dopamine receptors. The experiment showed that overeating junk food can trigger compulsive behaviors similar to those observed in drug addiction.
- Meditate. Apart from the many known benefits of meditation, this practice is also associated with the increased activity of dopamine. Research shows that mediation can increase dopamine levels by about 65%. There are numerous ways to meditate and there are really simple meditation techniques that you can easily learn.
- Get crafty. Whether you prefer knitting or sewing over photography or woodwork, it really won’t matter as long as you engage in a hobby you truly enjoy. The calmness and comfort you feel while being completely absorbed by an activity, whether it is crocheting, painting, or sculpting, appears to be the secret to happiness. When you get so engrossed doing something that you don’t have enough attention left to monitor your thoughts and feelings, you experience the same “flow” felt when someone meditates. And the more motivated and interested we are in an activity, the more dopamine is released in our brain. Dopamine activates the reward center in our brain which is the region that helps us stay focused and become more productive. Crafting is indeed good for your brain. So keep those hands busy, live the life of a hobbyist and craft your way to a stress-free and more fulfilling life.
- Get physically intimate with your partner. A touch can instantly result in the release of dopamine and a drop of cortisol in your body. Sex is good for you! Just practice safer sex and engage in it responsibly.
Learn something new. Find something new and exciting to watch, hear, do or discover. This will trigger dopamine production. Notice that warm feeling in your got when you’re exposed to something new? That’s the dopamine surge. Our brain is wired to relentlessly look for new rewards and the anticipation about the rewards of meeting a new person, using a new product or learning a new activity can result in dopamine release. As Sapolsky of Stanford University explained, dopamine levels drastically increase as soon as we begin anticipating a reward.
So what is there to discover? Well, you can look for new music to download, new recipes to try, new places to visit, new things to collect, and so on. The reward system in your brain is activated by seek-and-find activities so you may want to engage in quest-oriented hobbies and adventures.
Looking for an easier and quicker way to discover something new? The World Wide Web has plenty to offer. Browse Pinterest and you’ll see what we mean.
- Accomplish a goal. Get something done and let the “I did it!” joy put your reward center into party mode. You don’t have to build an empire or do something as big or impressive. Your day-to-day activities are already goals you need to reach. Create a to-do list even when all you have to perform are small, daily tasks. Watch how ticking-off something can do wonders in your mood. Take note also of the fact that dopamine acts as a motivator. So when we reach even the simple and short-term goals, we’re more likely to accomplish a grand vision. Your brain sees the pleasurable reward clearly so it signals you to become more motivated to reach that reward.
- Listen to music. Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll – what do these have in common? Well, they all boost the dopamine level in your brain. Research showed that music can make our brain sing. Listening to music activates the reward system in our brain and causes the release of dopamine. What is more interesting is that dopamine is released as well during the anticipation phase – the few seconds where we wait to hear our favorite song or chord. You see, it isn’t always the lyrics that move us. Ever notice how some songs or chords give you shudders of delight? Listening to music can give you goose bumps because of the dopamine rush. Note, however, that it’s not always your preferred music genre or your favorite song that brings goosebumps. Music is an abstract stimulus and you can feel chills from any genre at unexpected times. So the next time you get the chills upon hearing a song, it’s just the dopamine-soaked emotional arousal that you feel.
- Train your brain to stay positive. High stress level is strongly correlated with dopamine deficiency so make a conscious effort to notice something good in every situation. Decrease your stress levels by staying away from negativity. Try to think happy, positive thoughts. Learn to deal with life’s stressors with an open mind and a hopeful heart. This may be challenging at first but you can start with exposing yourself to positive experiences as much as you can. Hang around happy and positive people. Do more of those activities that make you feel relaxed and happy. Such will make you feel good which implies dopamine release. The more stimulated your dopamine neurotransmitter is, the more motivated you will become to remain positive.
Increase the dopamine level in your brain through these 18 simple and straightforward ways and benefit from improved focus, drive, and concentration. But of course, remember not to be on a constant hunt for a dopamine boost. This motivation molecule that is also in charge of our brain’s reward system must only be stimulated through safe and healthy ways. Dopamine is a powerful brain chemical and too much of it may lead to muscle twitching, hyperactivity that tends to be destructive, insomnia, mania, paranoia, aggression and addiction.
Keep your dopamine level balanced and steady so you’ll have enough energy and motivation to remain focused and happy.