Dopamine is one of the ‘feel good’ chemicals in our brain that affects mood and memory. While certain types of anti-depressants increase our dopamine levels, it is far better to boost this brain chemical naturally if we can. Obviously if you are clinically depressed that is a different story – then you should always take whatever medication your doctor has prescribed for you and never alter your medication without discussing this with your doctor first.
Human beings are programmed to respond well to rewards, something school teachers know only too well as they award gold, silver and coloured stars for various achievements to young children. Rewards don’t necessarily mean big things like the Nobel prize or an Oscar. You can give yourself the satisfaction of a reward brain boost in small ways that are far more accessible.
Sense of Satisfaction
Dopamine increases when we are organized and finish tasks – regardless if the task is small or large. So, don’t allow your brain to worry about things that need to be done. Instead, write these tasks down and then check them off one at a time. It’s been shown that it’s more satisfying to the brain’s dopamine levels when we physically check something off of our to-do list. Also, write down and check stuff off regardless if you can mentally remember the tasks. If you are absent minded, writing things down helps you to remember tasks as well as giving you a dopamine boost when you tick them off afterwards.
Another variant of this is to mark on a calendar or journal every day that you achieve something specific in such a way that you can see your progress. For example, the number of days you have gone without smoking. If at the same time you put the money you normally spent on cigarettes in a tin every day you can actually see how much money you have saved by giving up the habit and then spend it on a real treat that is good for you like new clothes or a holiday.
Exercise is another activity that boosts dopamine levels. That is why people can become addicted to running or going to the gym. Exercise also improves blood flow to the brain, proven to improve brain health and memory and help keep you youthful.
Creativity Improves Mood
The sense of achievement when you have created something tangible also boosts dopamine. Painting, drawing, making music, gardening even creating a delicious meal lovingly presented can give your dopamine levels a boost as you admire your work and share what you have created with others.
What can you do today to give yourself a brain boost?