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A Guide to Dopamine Fasting: 4 Steps to Reset Your Brain


Mindful Activities
Break Free From Excess Dopamine


Don’t we all just feel like we need a break sometimes? A break from the constant stimulation and temptations that surround us; the social media feed, the video game, the crisps whilst binging on Netflix. These habits provide a quick pick-me-up, a surge of motivation, and a fleeting sense of pleasure. Yet, they come at a cost—they wire our brains for instant gratification. A Dopamine detox, often referred to as a "dopamine fast," is a method aimed at reducing overstimulation from these activities and its goal is to reset the brain’s rewards system.


In short, it can be a positive way to break bad habits.

 

A dopamine detox usually involves steering clear of activities that spike dopamine levels, opting instead for more purposeful or reflective activities like reading, meditating, or enjoying nature. Before you set out on a ‘dopamine detox’, seek to be clear on the bad habits you are trying to change. Ultimately, a dopamine detox must be a personalised one so you must also decide what your fasting periods will be (times that these activities are off-limits). And because it takes about 66 days, on average, to build a new habit, the best approach would be to aim for a longer detox to help you wire your brain for healthier habits. The aim is to take charge of your impulses and reassess priorities for a healthier way of living.


Attempting a dopamine detox can bring a range of benefits:

 

  1. More productivity: With fewer distractions, you might find yourself getting more done.

  2. More focus: Removing the continuous stimulation from dopamine-triggering activities can lead to improved concentration and a clearer headspace.

  3. More joy: Having time for more mindful, healthy activities may increase feelings of happiness and contentment.

  4. Better sleep: Avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime may result in more restful and rejuvenating sleep, facilitating a refreshed and energised start to the day.

  5. Less stress: As the body is not craving unhealthy rewards you may also have less feelings of stress.

 

Overall, a dopamine detox sets the stage for breaking free from the instant-gratification trap and nurturing a more balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.


Does a Dopamine Detox actually work?


You can't really 'detox' from dopamine as it will always be in your brain, but the idea of being aware of your choices and habits can help you to live the way you really want to. Once a person completes a dopamine detox, they may feel more balanced and less triggered by tempting activities.


Here are 5 steps to get you started on your Dopamine Detox:


  1. Identify Bad Habits: What habits are you 'addicted' to that are exciting in the moment but leaving you feeling stress, overwhelmed and anxious? Not sure? Keep a journal for 2 weeks - track your actions and your moods. Those nasty habits will soon make themselves visible to you!

  2. Focus On New Habits: Dopamine fasting is about swapping out those activities that spike Dopamine for more purposeful pursuits like reading or meditating. Figure out what new habits you want to bring into your life. you can be pretty direct and use the IF / THEN statement to help. e.g. 'IF I want to turn on Netflix, THEN I will read a book instead'. These statements can help keep you on track.

  3. The Power of Persistence: Research suggests it takes about 66 days, on average, to build a new habit. So, identify your 'fasting' period and try to aim for a longer detox to rewire your brain for healthier habits.

  4. Celebrate Your Wins: What's in it for you? Increased productivity, sharper focus, more joy, better sleep, and less stress — a recipe for a balanced, fulfilling lifestyle. Keep track of when you success in your fast and how it makes you feel. You are building the evidence you need to keep you motivated to stay on track once your fast is finished.


The Verdict: While you can't truly 'detox' from dopamine, being mindful of your choices can help you live the life you truly want. It’s about taking charge of your impulses and reassessing priorities for a healthier way of living.

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