Dopamine is a chemical messenger or neurotransmitter that sends signals from the body to the brain and plays a huge role in the quality of your memory, mood, movement, sleep, and concentration.
Dopamine is also often called the ‘feel-good’ chemical because our body releases it when doing any activity that we enjoy and associate with pleasure and reward.
With other neurotransmitters and hormones such as serotonin and adrenaline, dopamine takes part in mental and brain functioning. The lack of these chemical messengers’ balance in the brain can lead to both mental and physical illnesses.
This ‘feel-good’ chemical makes us happy and helps boost our mood. However, not all activities that trigger dopamine are healthy and good for us.
Wanting to feel good is a natural human desire, in fact, happiness is necessary to live a healthy and prosperous life because it keeps us motivated, focused, and more productive. At the same time, it is important to be aware of the destructive activities we might seek to increase our dopamine.
These are 10 activities and habits that can increase your dopamine level, boost your mood and have a positive impact on your life in the long term.
A healthy diet does not only keeps us in shape and strengthens our health but can also improve our mental health. Consuming the right food increases your serotonin and dopamine and boosts your mood.
Protein contains the amino acid Tyrosine that helps help produce dopamine, so make sure that your diet includes protein-rich food.
Some of the foods that are rich in Tyrosine are chicken, almonds, bananas, eggs, beans, fish, green, watermelon, yogurt, and avocados.
Avoid dopamine-triggering drinks such as coffee because they can cause withdrawal and addiction. Drinking water is also important to boost your energy and prevent dehydration that can cause fatigue, confusion, irregular body temperature, and distress.
Soak in the sun
Ever heard about seasonal depression? Well, it is actually called Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is a condition that occurs during the winter season when people are not exposed to enough sunlight and it can cause feelings of sadness and depression.
Studies have shown that sunshine can boost your mood by increasing your serotonin and dopamine levels. However, it is important to have just enough sunshine a day because too much can also be harmful to you, moderation is always the key.
Take advantage of the sunny days and indulge in more outdoor activities such as visiting the beach, going on picnics, while also following safety measures like wearing sunscreen and a hat and staying hydrated.
Our bodies naturally crave physical activities because it is necessary for both our physical and mental health. Research has shown that not only does regular exercise strengthen your muscles and bones but also improves your brain function and boost your spirit.
Practicing physical activities helps your brain release chemicals like serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine, which can boost your mood and decrease your stress and anxiety levels.
Fortunately, you don’t have to complete hours of intense exercise to achieve that. Have fun and practice any physical activity that you enjoy like jogging, cycling, dancing, martial art, or yoga.
Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep every night can help us feel better throughout the day as well as reduce the risks of depression and other mental illnesses that can come from sleep deprivation.
Sleep helps your body repair and renew all the cells as well as release a healthy number of neurotransmitters such as dopamine when waking up. Bad sleeping patterns can disrupt this natural cycle leading to less dopamine production and worse mood.
There are many ways to help you improve your sleep quality such as controlling your light exposure at night, avoiding certain food and drink that can stimulate wakefulness, establishing a sleep routine, and improving your sleeping environment.
Indulge in a hobby
Most people who are passionate about their hobbies and regularly do them will gladly tell you about the positive impact it has on their life.
Having a hobby will help you separate work from leisure which can be difficult at times. Focusing on just work and hectic day-to-day activities can be physically and mentally draining.
Making time for an activity or a hobby that you enjoy can increase dopamine levels in your body which will help you unwind, relax, stay motivated and boost your mood.
There are many hobbies you can try that are fun and can increase your dopamine and boost your mood such as listening to music, doing sport, crafting, needlework, painting, making music, gardening or reading.
Make short- and long-term goals
Because the release of dopamine is associated with pleasure and reward, dopamine is often released after you accomplish a goal or finish a task no matter how big or small it is.
Therefore, making short- and long-term goals is very important to boost your mood and improve your self-esteem.
Once your body releases dopamine after ticking off something achieved in your goals or to-do list, it will seek more of that feeling and motivate you to continue and finish off the rest of your goals and tasks, which can improve your productivity as well.
Adopt a pet
Having a pet in your home can significantly improve your mental and physical health. Domestic animals are loyal creatures that offer companionship and unconditional love that you might not find in other creatures.
Studies have shown that owning a pet can reduce symptoms of stress and depression. Spending time with your favorite animal friend can increase your level of oxytocin, also called the love hormone.
Pets such as dogs and cats can also help you stay active by playing with them or taking them on regular walks which is good for your physical health.
Pets are also great listeners, of course, no one expects their pet to understand or talk back to them, but talking to your pet can promote voicing your emotion instead of bottling them up.