Now, dopamine is awesome and scary at the same time. Why?
It’s awesome because:
- It creates feelings of pleasure
- Creates feelings of reward,
- Helps with motivation
- Makes us feel good.
- Helps with memory and attention
- Even helps to regulate body movements
It’s scary because:
- it can often be associated with addiction. It’s the chemical that your nervous system releases when you’re on social media, gambling or consuming drugs or alcohol
- It can alter cognitive behaviours, like associating “going on social media” with relaxing, which are technically not correlated.
For those reasons, and because high dopamine levels truly help reducing depression, stress and anxiety, it’s crucial to learn how to naturally produce dopamine without bad triggers like social media, drugs, alcohol or gambling.
Since our passion is about making professionals happier and more productive, here are tips to increase Dopamine levels in a work-related context:
1 . Listen to music while working
Several brain studies have found that listening to music increases activity in the reward and pleasure areas of the brain, which are rich in dopamine receptors!
More specifically, instrumental music. Here’s my personal “in the background” music to work: ChillHop Music (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NOSDKb0HlU)
2 . Get enough sleep
Very undervalued in the Startup/business grind world, but trading long work hours with sleep hours will greatly benefit your dopamine levels and performance at work.
Studies have found that dopamine is released in large amounts in the morning, and reduces late at night when it’s time to go to bed. Furthermore, bad sleeping habits appear to disrupt this cycle. So make sure to have a normal 7-8 hour sleep habit every night!
3 . Split your work into small, achievable tasks
The feeling that we get from completing a task is found to secrete dopamine in the brain. Don’t believe me? Go into your to-do list and check something off. Feels good, doesn’t it?
It’s a tactic that software and video game makers use to foster behavioural habits in their users. (More on this in “Hooked, by Nir Eyal”).
Micheal Jordan has made this notion famous when he shared that he views big obstacles in small, calculated steps, which gave him momentum to continue, and by default higher dopamine levels.
To take advantage of this “setting” in our nervous system, split your work into small tasks that you can complete each day.
4 . Eat more proteins, less saturated fat and consume probiotics
I’ve touched on it in the serotonin blog, but a combination of high-protein foods with small carbohydrate levels can be associated with dopamine production.
Probiotics have a different impact since they affect the gut, also referred to as the “second brain”. Certain bacterias in the gut also are capable of producing dopamine, which may impact your mood.
On the other hand, saturated fat, if consumed in high amounts, will cause a reduction in produced dopamine levels.
5 . Move your office to sunny rooms
Same as for serotonin, exposure to bright light has been shown to be a great remedy to stabilize dopamine production.
Thus, try to work in an environment where you get direct sunlight. If you can’t, take walk breaks and go outside for 15-30 minutes when it’s sunny.
6 . Exercise and take “do nothing” meditation breaks
If you can fit a small 15 to 20-minute exercise routine often into your workweek, the results will be astonishing.
First of all, there’s a clear correlation between exercise and antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. But most importantly, the frequency will help regulate dopamine production and reduce swings, making your dopamine levels normal and stable.
Taking a forced break will also benefit your cognitive capabilities at work, increase focus and increase motivation levels.
I hope this was helpful to some of you who, like me, or struggling to prioritize their wellbeing at work.
If you found this useful, please like and share the post for others to benefit from the tips shared today!
Other posts on wellbeing
Cheers, Fred ✌️
Source: Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Healthline.com (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/)