Think of the last time you gave into a craving for your favorite not-so-healthy treat. Was it chocolate? A cheeseburger? A milkshake? Whatever it was, dopamine was there with you, creating desire and the rush of pleasure you felt with that first bite.
Dopamine is often called the 'feel-good' or 'happy' hormone. This is because it plays a part in helping you feel anticipation, desire, happiness, and joy.
Researchers have barely scratched the surface of understanding dopamine's role. Still, we know a few things about dopamine's several functions throughout your body. When dopamine levels are low, people may show difficulty concentrating, decreased motivation, have sleep difficulties, and report increased stress levels.
There are several ways to support and boost dopamine without giving in to unhealthy cravings. Read on to discover five quick, easy, and natural dopamine boosters!
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter formed in your brain by transforming an amino acid called tyrosine. Neurotransmitters are often called 'chemical messengers' because your neurons transmit them between one another in response to various stimuli. The messages affect thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.
Other neurotransmitters you often hear about are serotonin and adrenaline. Neurotransmitters work with hormones and other body systems to influence your overall health. Most neurotransmitters, including dopamine, have several functions throughout your body.
Dopamine is associated with the following:
Dopamine is most notably involved with your brain's pleasure and reward system. When you anticipate or participate in an activity you enjoy, dopamine is released. It helps create a sense of satisfaction, leading to a desire to do that activity again.
Dopamine also plays a role in want and desire, such as when you want to eat that 3rd or 4th cookie. Of course, your rational mind knows there could be negative consequences such as weight gain, blood sugar increase, stomach ache, etc. Still, dopamine creates that almost irresistible sense of desire for satisfaction right now.
What are some health conditions associated with dopamine?
Dopamine imbalances are associated with several health conditions, including:
It is important to note that dopamine imbalance is not the only cause of these conditions. Instead, several neurotransmitters, hormones, environment, and social factors are all involved in each disease process.
If you think of something that makes you happy, participating in or anticipating that activity may increase dopamine release. Unfortunately, many activities or foods we often desire the most negatively affect overall health and well-being. Think of sweets, fatty foods, alcohol, drugs, gambling, and smoking, to mention a few.
The good news? There are plenty of ways to boost dopamine without jeopardizing your health! Here are a few ideas that you can try almost anytime, anywhere.
Just being outside in the sunshine and fresh air can boost dopamine levels
We all know exercise is a vital part of overall wellness. A quick 5-10 minute walk when you feel sluggish or unmotivated can release dopamine and get your day back on track.
Turn on your favorite jams, and you are almost guaranteed to feel a ‘dopamine rush.’
Even if you only have a few minutes, research has shown that meditation increases dopamine release. If you are a Take 2 Minutes subscriber, just text “send me a meditation” to the service. You can choose the length of medication and either a male or female voice.
Dopamine affects many aspects of our overall health and wellness. Known as the 'feel-good' hormone, dopamine helps us feel desire, motivation, and pleasure.
Five ways to give yourself an instant dopamine boost are:
These five quick, easy, and natural dopamine boosters are almost guaranteed to increase happiness today. Combine a walk outside with your favorite music, and who knows what will happen!