Reset Your Motivation in 24hrs | Dopamine Detox Guide
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This weekend, I am deep inside the woods of Pennsylvania, in a tiny cabin with no electricity, no plumbing, no running water, just nature, a tiny cabin, and my thoughts. And I'm doing a dopamine detox.
I thought that this would be a great location to explain to you guys what dopamine is, what a dopamine detox is, and why you probably need it.
What is dopamine?
Dopamine is one of those chemicals that your body and brain have that can be released upon something happening.
Dopamine is a motivating chemical, so dopamine motivates you to get things. The release of dopamine that you know was going to happen is what is motivating you to get things done.
For basic life tasks like finding food and eating food, dopamine is going to be the reward.
So once you're hungry, you're going to seek out food, and once you get that first bite of food, you'll get a flow of dopamine because you've completed that task.
Why do You Need to Detox?
Motivation is really what dopamine purpose is. While dopamine is good for the basics of life like securing food and water, shelter, dopamine also has its place negatively in our lives, especially these days.
For example, you can scroll through social media, or watch movies, and you'll probably get a flood of dopamine. But the problem is that these days, there are so many sources of dopamine that our dopamine receptors are pretty much burnt out.
Guess what happens when we have too much of a drug? You need more of that drug to feel the same great sensation.
While you may want to do better things with your life or do things that you know will benefit you and make you healthier, but you might not have the motivation to do this because you're finding a dopamine fix in multiple other areas of your life, whether it's junk food, TV, video games, all of those things give you a release of dopamine.
Your dopamine receptors are overloaded, and burnt out, and by the time you want to do something more difficult, like reading a book, that's kind of boring and you. It's not going to give you that big rush of dopamine that your body now craves.
What is a dopamine detox?
A dopamine detox is either a reduction or a complete elimination of the things that stimulate you on a daily basis. So once you cut back on those non essential sources of dopamine, you won't be overstimulated and you'll be able to complete those larger, more important tasks.
There are three ways to do a dopamine detox:
You can do a 48 hour dopamine detox where you're eliminating all of these stimulating things for 48 hours. Or you can do a 24 hour detox, which is the same as a 48, but just for one day.
There is also the long term detox, where you cut back on those stimulating things, but you don't eliminate them altogether, but overall, it'll have the same great benefit as a full 24 or 48 hour detox.
There's no doubt that for 24 or 48 hours detoxes are difficult, so it's okay if you want to just start with a longer term partial detox.
The First Step
The first step to a dopamine detox is writing down and knowing what you are addicted to or what stimulates you every day. What can you not go one day without or what would it be really difficult for you to go one day without?
Instagram, YouTube, junk food, and sweets are all good examples.
Here's what I wrote down as a few things that I cannot go without or that I'm addicted to: caffeine music, checking my social media, checking my emails, checking the crypto market, stock market every day.
I'm doing those things every day. I'm engaging in those things frequently, and once I do engage in them, they give me a dose of dopamine.
Every time you check your phone or every time you sip on some coffee or every time you sit down and watch a video as you eat, dopamine is being released into your bloodstream.
These are going to be the things that you're going to be cutting back on during a long term partial detox, or eliminating during a full detox.
Avoid During 24/48 Hour Detox
During a full 24 or 48 hour detox, you're going to eliminate:
- drug and alcohol consumption
- the internet
- your phone
- social media
- sugar and processed foods
- and video games.
Although exercising is good for you, once you exercise, your body will release those "feel good" chemicals, and we're trying to detox off of those chemicals. So right now for a dopamine detox, you want to cut back on exercising and not do it at all.
Any other source of dopamine that you're getting, which stimulates you, makes you excited, or makes you feel amazing, should be cut out.
So I know you're asking "if I'm not doing any of those things that I usually do every single day, what am I going to do?"
You're going to stop doing those things and replace them with less stimulating activities:
- awareness exercises
- and stretching.
These are things are great for you. They relax you, calm your mind, and let you think, but they're not going to overstimulate you to the point where your body is releasing dopamine.
Eliminate those stimulating things and replace them with a more relaxing and contemplative thing. The Replacement Activity list is not exhaustive, so you can it.
Now, for the partial detox, where you're doing this more long term, you don't have to cut out everything fully, but just find and write down your main sources of stimulation and your main sources of dopamine and completely stop one or two of those things.
If you're on Netflix for 4 hours a day, then completely cut out Netflix. If you're on Instagram the most out of all the social media platforms that cut out Instagram completely.
You don't have to cut out every source of dopamine and stimulation when you're doing a partial detox, but just find those to one or two main things that you do every single day for the most amount of time every day, and then cut those out completely.
Once you locate that one source of stimulation and eliminate that from your day and you're going to want to replace that with more healthy and lower stimulation activity.
For example, if a lot of your time is spent on Netflix and you're realizing this is your main source of stimulation every day, then you're going to cut out Netflix and instead of watching Netflix, use that time to read, stretch, walk, or do any of those other replacement activities.
With the partial detox, over time, you will see an improvement in your motivation levels and you'll be less stimulated by these nonsense activities. Probably after a week or two weeks or however long you decide to go with the partial detox, you'll realize that those simpler tasks become more rewarding and easier to do.
How to Successfully Detox
If you want to be successful in your dopamine detox, you need to have your goals straight. They need to have them set in stone and written down so you can see them and know exactly what they are.
Identify your main sources of stimulation, decide what you're going to cut back on or what you're going to cut out.
Decide whether you're going to do a full detox for there to or whether you're going to do a long term detox that's partial. So figure these things out, write them down, and then decide if I'm not going to engage in this overstimulating activity, what am I going to replace it with?
Those things while you're trying to detox from them-- make them difficult to engage in.
If you're always on Netflix on your phone, delete the app. If you feel like junk food is going to be your main source of temptation, take all the cookies, chips, snacks, put them in a bed, and then put them outside of your house or in the closet and out of sight, so it's out of mind.
Make those unwanted behaviors harder to engage in.
On the flip side, the things that you want to replace those overstimulation activities with-- make those easier to engage in.
If you want to replace those overstimulating activities with reading or walking, make it easier for yourself. Pick out some books that you want to read while you're detoxing, or have a whole walking outfit laid out.
Whenever you feel like you want to engage in an overstimulation activity, you just put on those clothes real quick. They're already picked out and you go for a walk instead. Make those things easier to engage in.
Plan Your Days
If you're doing a 24 hour or 48 hour detox, plan out your day by the hour, so there's no time for your mind to wander. You know, exactly what you're doing at this hour, and exactly what you need to be doing by the next hour.
This keeps your mind from trying to convince you to go back to those other things.
When I wake up, I'll stretch, journal, and think about life. I'm not checking my phone because I'm detoxing and I'm not doing anything that's going to overstimulate me.
This is a good time to just reflect on your life, ask yourself what you're grateful for, and maybe even write down some goals that you have for the next 12 months.
Dopamine detoxes are not easy and they're not meant to be easy. But I think that just the simple fact that they're not easy should be enough to let you know that you have some overstimulation going on in your brain.
So during your dopamine detox, remind yourself that you're doing this because you have other things in life that you actually want to accomplish, and that doesn't involve all the distracting elements that we have the luxury of engaging in these days.
Yes, we have the luxury of consuming media and consuming junk food, drinking coffee and having nicotine, but just because we have them available doesn't mean that that's all that life should be about.
A lot of us have these other goals that we want to accomplish in life: we want to be healthier. We want to be smarter. We want to be happier. During your dopamine detox, reflect on those things and reflect on why you're doing your dopamine detox.
Read a book, meditate, stretch, and go for a walk. By the end of your dopamine detox, you'll have more motivation to do the things you want to do.