Challenge # 4 – Dopamine

30 7 days of love for ADHD

Dopamine is one of the “feel good” chemicals in our brain. Interacting with the pleasure and reward center of our brain, dopamine (along with other chemicals like serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins) plays a vital role in how happy we feel. In addition to our mood, dopamine also affects movement, memory, and focus and a flood of dopamine can produce temporary feelings of euphoria.

ADHD brains tend to have a problem with managing their dopamine levels, we have trouble doing things just because they are smart to do, and instead we often seek the path that leads to the biggest reward, and nothing seems to be more rewarding than dopamine. Without us knowing, our devil can turn our lives into a never ending search for more of this feel good chemical, which causes impulsiveness and addictions if we are not careful.

For me, dopamine is a bit like magic, it makes me feel good, even about myself. When my dopamine needs are met, my chaos disappears and for a while I seem to be completely fine, comfortable with everything inside and around me. However, my search for dopamine took some wrong turns throughout my life. Addictions to chocolate, gaming, recklessness, orgasms and workouts are examples of this. Whenever something is able to make me feel good, when something makes me experience a good dopamine high, it is too easy for me to loose myself in it, to get obsessed and sometimes even addicted, making me loose control and preventing me from what I truly need in life.

When I discover the science behind my devil’s connection with dopamine, I started to understand myself and my habits a little better and I gained more control over what I do with my time. By understanding the effect of rewards and dopamine on how I can get addicted to anything that feels good, I gained the ability to prevent myself from going too far, the ability to start balancing.

For example, when I start to notice myself getting lost in gaming, when I’m starting to spend too much time behind a screen, I can now recognize that is caused by an unrewarding life. Before I get too lost in my gaming, I can ask myself why I turn to gaming and what I’m missing missing in my life. Often it turns out that a dopamine addiction starts when parts of my life are just not rewarding enough and by understanding this I am able to make a change in my life before I get lost in a negative reward circuit.

For challenge#4 I want to ask you to think about your own dopamine induced behavior. Are there things you do in your life you’re not really proud of but are actually related to your dopamine search? Are there things that can provide you with this feel-good chemical that would actually improve your life? And finally, would it be possible to change the habits you don’t like into some you do like?

Healthy Increase of Dopamine

For me, painting, writing, dancing and exercising are things that are able to provide me with a good amount of dopamine in a healthy way, they are the things I start doing whenever I notice myself getting lost in unhealthy habits. If you don’t know in what way you can start balancing you’re own dopamine levels, here is a list of things you can try to feel better:

> Eat foods rich in tyrosine including cheese, meats, fish, dairy, soy, seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, among others. While tyrosine supplements are available, consuming foods is preferred.
> Up magnesium intake with foods such as seeds, nuts, soy, beans, whole grains, among others.
> Avoid processed foods, high-fats, sugar, caffeine.
> Proper sleep hygiene is mandatory, as it fuels dopamine production.
> Exercise daily.
> Avoid stress, apply techniques such as meditationvisualization, breathing exercises.
> Consider the use of natural nootropics including L-Tyrosine and L-theanine.

Good luck!

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