Dopamine is a compound present in the body as a neurotransmitter, which means it controls communication in the brain, and is a precursor of other substances including adrenaline.
Dopamine helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, it motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs.
Low levels of dopamine may cause procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm. One the other hand, having too much dopamine can make a person psychotic. Illicit drugs that dump loads of dopamine include cocaine and methamphetamines, which often causes euphoria, aggression and intense sexual feelings.
We need dopamine in the right amount at the right time and the right place. When it all comes together, we are the most awesome human being around.
What are the best ways to get dopamine? Eat it. The precursor amino acid from the protein we eat is called tyrosine. Tyrosine rich foods include: Lean meat (such as chicken & turkey) and fish (such as salmon). Dairy products, such as cottage cheese and yogurt. You can also get tyrosine from legumes such as beans and peanuts. Other foods that contain tyrosine include egg white, seaweed, soy protein, almonds, pumpkin seeds, bananas, avocados and sesame seeds.
Exercise regularly. Exercise increases blood calcium, which stimulates dopamine release and uptake in your brain. Any exercise that makes you feel good is good.
Sleep. Dopamine has been tied to feelings of wakefulness, so in order to get that wakeful feeling, you need good quality sleep.
Write a to-do list. We are visual animals. There is a HUGE difference between having a to-do list in your head and having it on a piece of paper. It’s much easier for us to get inspired or motivated when we are actually seeing it with our eyes. It can be a very simple list, and yet every time you cross off an item on it, your brain will have a small dopamine rush.
The same goes for setting goals. Write it down! Or print it out! Put it somewhere clearly visible to you (and your team/company). Break big goals down into little pieces – rather than only allowing our brains to celebrate when we’ve hit the big finish line, we can create a series of small finish lines which trigger the release of dopamine too. And it’s crucial to actually celebrate – reward yourself (and your team/company) whenever you meet a small goal, because this will keep the spirit up and soon you will realize how remarkable it has become.
In the next post, we will discuss the other 2 happy chemicals – Serotonin and Oxytocin. Stay connected!