Everyone could benefit from a healthy boost of dopamine, especially when battling mental illness or a mental health concern, as dopamine is your “happy hormone” and plays a direct role in how you feel. The best part? Learning how to increase dopamine levels naturally is an incredibly easy and effective way to ease anxiety and depression, and get you back to feeling like yourself again. Today, we are discussing what dopamine is, what dopamine does for your brain and more importantly, how to increase dopamine levels naturally for optimal anxiety relief.
What is Dopamine and What Does it Do for the Brain?
Dopamine is a chemical (a neurotransmitter) in the brain that affects your emotions, pleasure, and pain. It’s often called “the motivator molecule” as it’s responsible for sending signals to your brain that tell your body what to do. However, producing too much or too little has been linked to causing many mental illnesses.
Too much dopamine has been linked to schizophrenia as the brain is over-firing signals causing psychotic-like symptom. Producing too little dopamine has been linked to mental illnesses such as ADHD, Parkinson’s, anxiety, and depression, as the brain isn’t sending enough signals to give you sensations of pleasure, happiness, accomplishments, etc.
Symptoms of Low Dopamine
Feeling bleh is the best way I can describe what it feels like to have low dopamine. You feel depleted, unmotivated, foggy, zombie-like, if you will. Your happy hormones are low and your mood, focus and drive tend to follow. Here’s a look at the most common symptoms of low dopamine:
- Lack of focus
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inability to handle stress
- Failure to finish tasks
- Low sex drive
- Digestion problems
Low dopamine levels have the potential to control your life because it can completely deplete your motivation to do anything, whether it’s studying for a test, going to the gym, getting out of bed or even showering each morning.
12 Ways To Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally
Fortunately, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to boost dopamine levels naturally. Here is a list of some of our favourite ways to do just that:
Eat Foods Rich in Tyrosine
Your body needs tyrosine in order to make dopamine; avocados, eggs, bananas, almonds, beans, chicken, and fish are all high in tyrosine. You may also want to consider taking natural supplements that boost dopamine.
Learn How to Meditate
Meditation is scientifically proven to decrease anxiety by up to 50%. It also increases dopamine levels and is particularly beneficial in areas of concentration and focus. When you are able to concentrate and focus better, you feel happier, and the healthy cycle begins. This 3 minute meditation is perfect for anyone who wants to experience inner peace in 180 seconds.
Exercising regularly is the foundation of a healthy mind and body. Unfortunately, when you have low dopamine levels, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get up and get moving but you have to. Even something as simple as a 20-minute walk around the block each day can make a huge difference in your overall wellbeing.
That’s also not to mention that studies have proven that physical exercise increases levels of dopamine. So, you just have to push yourself for the first couple of weeks. Once you begin to experience the benefits and extra dose of motivation that comes from higher dopamine levels, you won’t look back.
Listen to Binaural Music
Something has simple as listening to music can increase dopamine levels, as it boosts your mood and energy, while providing you with pleasurable feelings. While any music that you find enjoyable will work, we recommend Binaural Beats. They’re soundtracks designed specifically for your mental health and have been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on the brain.
Improve Your Sleep
Improving your sleep can seem like a difficult task when you’re suffering from insomnia as a result of low dopamine levels. However, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to put you on the right path, and just as many natural sleep aids that will give you an extra boost of Zzz’s. Lavender sprays, melatonin, and essential oils are some of our favourite ways to get a better sleep. ZenBev is one of our favourite sleep supplements that boosts melatonin (for sleep) or serotonin (for anxiety) depending on when you take it. Although, it’s equally important to adapt healthy habits, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
Take Dopamine-Boosting Supplements
Natural supplements for mental health is a surefire way to get an extra dose of happy hormones in your day. We have a list of the best natural supplements for anxiety that goes over the different types of supplements for anxiety. In terms of boosting your dopamine specifically, these are the ones you should try:
- Probiotics – harmful gut bacteria decreases dopamine production and probiotics can help restore a healthy gut flora.
- Magnesium – low magnesium levels decrease dopamine levels and increase the production of cortisol (your stress hormones.
- Curcumin – increases the release of dopamine, making it an effective natural depressant.
- Fish Oil – has a positive influence on dopamine regulation, as well as antidepressant effects. It’s also linked to improve mental health when taken regularly.
- Vitamin D – it has many roles in your body, including the regulation of dopamine. (Everyone should own a SAD Light.)
Increase Physical Touch
Something as simple as physical touch can increase dopamine levels. So, whether it’s your parents, a good friend, a lucky someone or a pet, start cuddling and/or hugging more.
Better yet, treat yourself to a therapeutic massage, as it’s been proven to increase both dopamine and serotonin while also reducing cortisol (the stress hormone).
Take a Cold Shower
When you are feeling in a slump, jump in a cold shower for a boost of dopamine. Studies show that having a shower in 14C°/57F° water can significantly increase dopamine levels – and up to 250%.
Correct a Magnesium Deficiency
If there’s one supplement we hear people constantly praising for its effective anxiety relief, it’s magnesium. We tried it ourselves and couldn’t agree more. It’s great, particularly if you have a magnesium deficiency as it can cause a decrease in dopamine levels. So, grab a magnesium supplement but make sure it’s highly absorbable, as most aren’t.
Decrease Sugar Intake
Sugar is the root of all evil for most things. So, it’s no surprise that it’s been shown to disrupt dopamine levels. Unfortunately, sugar is in absolutely everything nowadays which may very well be why mental illness is on the rise. So, be careful with what you eat.
Fix Your Gut Health
Your stomach health (gut flora) plays a huge role in the overall way you feel. There are various types of good bacteria that live in your digestive tract that are capable of producing dopamine. However, if you have poor gut health, the bad bacteria takes over so you never get those benefits.
An excellent way to fix this is with probiotic supplements.
Get More Sun (Or a Sad Lamp)
The sun is full of healthy benefits and a boost in dopamine is one of them. As a result, when you don’t get enough of those good rays, you may begin to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is when there is an increase in anxiety or worsening depression during a particular season. This is why many of us feel worse during the winter season when the sun isn’t shining. It’s been nicknamed ‘The Winter Blues’, but it is classified as a mental illness and there are many natural fixes that can help you battle through the season.
The easiest way is to get more sunshine in your day is to spend a minimum of 15 minutes outside each day. Of course, you’ll want to do this with sunscreen on to block out the harmful UV rays.
If the sun isn’t shining or you live in a location that has more gloomy days than others, you need to get a SAD lamp. These seasonal affective disorder lights give you the benefits of the sun, without ever having to brave the great outdoors (perfect for seasonal affective disorder).
Not sure where to get all of these relaxation items? Head on over to our mental health and wellness store and grab one of our wellness boxes that cater to mental health or create your own with any soothing products, therapeutic tools, and self-care items you desire.
If you are experiencing a crisis, please reach out to a professional. Discover the best online therapy for anxiety here.