Do You Need a Dopamine Detox? | WELL Aging Sun Care

Do You Need a Dopamine Detox?

Over the weekend we did some office rearranging/organizing & accidentally killed our internet 😳

It got us thinking that maybe it’s a good time for a “dopamine detox”.

What is a dopamine detox?

It’s when you avoid doing things that spike your pleasure senses. The idea is that in today's fast world of instant gratification, some of us are running on unnaturally high doses of dopamine.

This can cause problems like:

  • increased anxiety
  • depression
  • sleep problems
  • trouble with focusing
  • lack of motivation
  • addiction

The reason for these symptoms is because our brains have become accustomed to such high levels, so it seeks to attain more and more of it. Because of this, we may find it difficult to become motivated or stay engaged with less pleasurable activities.

By doing a dopamine detox (technically more like a dopamine "reset" since your brain needs and will always have dopamine), the idea is to bring those levels down a few notches to a more normal level.

Studies have shown that people who have done this have reported:

  • improved sleep
  • less anxiety
  • better moods
  • more motivation, focus and enjoyment in otherwise "boring" tasks

So if you're lacking motivation or focus etc, maybe all you need is some mental spring cleaning?

How to do a dopamine detox?

1. Decide how long you'll go without overly stimulating/pleasurable activities.

  • 1 day? 3 days? 7 days?

2. Set yourself up for success.

  • Turn off distractions and hide anything tempting and keep things handy that you should be focusing on.

3. Don't engage in anything overly stimulating/pleasurable.

  • No tv, games, social media, junk food, alcohol, music, sex/masturbation (yup - that's off the table too!), etc.

4. Do engage in calming, productive activities.

  • Reading, learning, working (limited internet as much as possible), physical movement, meditation, journalling, cleaning/organizing, getting outside, spending time with loved ones, etc.

5. Check in with yourself.

  • Make note of how you're feeling, sleeping, productivity etc at the beginning and at the end of the detox.

Work = Reward

Once you've taken time off to reset your dopamine levels, this is a good time to put new systems in place. Rather than falling back into the same routine when you get back to normal activities, this is the time to set up a reward system.

Now, instead of going straight for that stimulating pleasure item/activity, only allow yourself that treat once you've done something worthy of the reward.

For example:

  • clean your place = get an hour of TV
  • eat healthy all week = allow yourself a bowl of ice cream on Sunday
  • spend an hour of quality, focused work = take a break, have a piece of chocolate
  • stick to your budget all month = buy yourself something within budget that you've had your eye on for a while

Maybe it sounds so simple, juevenille even, but if we don't moderate our own behaviour, who will?

By delaying gratification until the work is done and - this part is important - by associating a reward with that work, you'll automatically start associating pleasure with the work aspect.

This means you'll be training your brain to produce dopamine during the less fun part and you will become more motivated, focused and enjoy the work a lot more.


This month, while you're working on your spring cleaning and organizing, why not internally "spring clean" yourself too? What do you think? Are you ready to do a dopamine detox?

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