Dopamine is one of the major neurotransmitters in our nervous system. It is essential for perceiving and processing emotions and feelings related to well-being, motivation and attention.
And it seems that nowadays we are all searching for it desperately to help us cope with the overabundance of information, our endless work hours and our busy schedules.
We are always tired and this, together with bad eating habits including fast and industrial food, is taking its toll on our health and well-being.
But, fortunately, we can change this. In fact, just a few simple changes to our usual routine can make us feel happier.
Avoid addictive behaviour
In the short term, addictions release reward systems in our brains, which leads to an increase in dopamine levels. However, in the long run, this behaviour has an adverse effect on dopamine levels and the effectiveness of the hormone.
When we speak of addictions, we are referring to those such as alcoholism and gambling, as well as our dependency on social networks and the constant search for approval in the form of likes.
Make lists and do small tasks
There is, however a reward system that does not generate addiction and has a positive effect on our dopamine levels: this involves completing small tasks on a daily basis. If we realise that at the end of the day we haven’t done any of the tasks we set out to do, our frustration increases. But, if we are organised, we will find that we can do more tasks than we expected, regardless of whether they were planned for that day or not.
Do something that we enjoy
Throw ourselves into an activity that we love doing, something that inspires us, that boosts our creativity, enthusiasm and interest. It could be an activity we do alone, or one that we share with someone and which forces us to move out of our normal routine.
You’re right, it’s what everyone says, but it’s true! Physical exercise is an instant source of dopamine. We can see this when we don’t feel like jogging or going to the gym, but we come back feeling energised. Apart from the feeling of reward, reactions occur at a physiological level while we exercise that release this hormone and which makes us feel satisfied.
Increase our tyrosine levels
Tyrosine is an amino acid that is essential for dopamine production. It is found in food such as almonds, avocados, bananas, chocolate, coffee, green tea and watermelon.
Listen to music
Neuroscience has demonstrated that music triggers feelings of pleasure and this is transformed almost immediately into pure dopamine.
However, if we are looking for dopamine, it might be a sign that our health is at risk. And in this case, the best thing to do is disconnect and start from scratch, and do a mind and body detox: diet, personal relationships, work, exercise…
Often, the easiest way to feel happy is to take a step back and look at our own lives.