10 Natural Ways to Increase Your Dopamine Levels

10 Natural Ways to Increase Your Dopamine Levels

Dopamine - a compound present in the body as a neurotransmitter and a precursor of other substances including adrenaline.

To simplify in a language we all can understand - a type of hormone that affects our mood, pleasure, motivation, and movement. It makes us feel good and alive.

Dopamine is in the headlines a lot lately, with a plethora of articles about how this neurotransmitter affects our mood and behavior and impacts our energy level and focus. 

It is undoubtedly a vital chemical in our body, regulating our movements and emotional responses. It is part of the brain’s reward and pleasure center, which makes us able to seek out pleasure and rewards actively. 

What many of these articles fail to mention is that dopamine levels can be affected by our perception or other factors. 

Here are 10 ways you could work toward increasing your natural dopamine levels


1. Avoid Addiction

When we suffer an addiction, we crave the quick reward that the drugs, alcohol, or whatever it is, give us. However, dopamine production does not work this way; it does not provide a quick hit and needs to be produced naturally. 

Often people turn towards an addiction because their dopamine levels are already low, so, in effect, they are using the habit to fix a pre-existing physical problem. To make dopamine, we have to find ways of feeling fulfilled, and the addiction is an easy way to fill that gap. 

Low dopamine may result from a specific lifestyle, our environment, finances, or relationship problems – the lack of any perceptible rewards means that dopamine is simply not produced and is replaced with an addiction. 

To reMove the risk of addiction, you need to increase the rewarding parts of your life. By filling your day with rewarding and inspiring things, you are less likely to fall victim to any kind of addition because your dopamine levels will remain high. 

Addiction has also been linked to past trauma, so it is essential to seek proper help to work through this. By doing so, you will open yourself up to more rewarding life experiences. 

2. Checklist Small Tasks

Finishing tasks is a form of reward, and dopamine loves a reward. Checking off tasks on a list gives your dopamine a boost. Writing everything down even if you know that you will remember it is a good thing, just because you can check it off later! 

Task motivation has an essential effect on our dopamine levels. Yet, it is known that if a task means you have a 25% or greater change in routine, you will probably not feel able to achieve it. If there is not enough difference, say under 10%, a person won’t do it because it has no meaning. 

The key is to set tasks within the range of 10-25% to give yourself the best chance of completing them and checking them off. If you can link a task to what is truly important to you, you will see the relevance. This will not only increase the chances that you will do it, but you will also get a greater reward, followed by a rise in your dopamine levels. 

3. Be Creative

Dopamine flows when people get creative – when you become absorbed in something like a job, craft, or activity. If the end result means that you create something, dopamine makes that happen. It is also the reason you feel so good about it. The trick is how to find something that you find really inspiring. 

First of all, you need to stop looking at the creations of others and look at your own beliefs and wants and what you can create. Comparing yourself to others will not encourage you to express yourself creatively. That can affect dopamine levels because you won’t see your creations as rewarding but feel that they are inferior to the creations of others. 

One way of doing this is to look critically at other people’s achievements. That is not to be negative but to recognize that their endeavors are no more perfect or imperfect than your own. If you can do this, your creations will become more meaningful and rewarding. 

4. Exercise

Exercise is a crucial way of relieving stress, increasing your physical fitness, and encouraging the release of various neurotransmitters – notably endorphins, serotonin, and, of course, dopamine. 

However, exercise needs to be correctly integrated into your life to avoid it merely becoming another addition or burden. Placing a higher value on exercise will make you consciously seek to incorporate it into your routines. 

Using something called ‘functional training’ is excellent because it looks at which exercises will help you achieve your life goals rather than just being an abstract fitness regime. 

If you can see the benefits of it in the way that your daily tasks are achieved with ease, this, in turn, will inspire you to continue to exercise. 

5. Make Your Mark

If you can see the benefits of it in the way that your daily tasks are achieved with ease, this, in turn, will inspire you to continue to exercise. 

Make sure you boost yourself by marking off your achievements and giving a visual representation of your success. Getting a calendar and marking off each day you do a workout, for example, can show you exactly how much you have achieved. This feeling and visual proof of accomplishment will boost your dopamine production.

This can have a downside if your actions are not helping you towards an end goal. So make sure you find ways to improve over time, set mini-goals, and see how the activity is helping you achieve them.

6. Increase Tyrosine

Tyrosine is one of the chemicals contained in dopamine, so it stands to reason that you need to make sure you have enough of this.

Lots of foods contain tyrosine, so start to include them in your diet. Choose foods you like so that it is a reward in and of itself, not something you have to do. If you do this, the foods will also help produce those feel-good chemicals simply by eating them! 

Avocado, almonds, soy products, pumpkin seeds, chocolate, and coffee are all excellent sources. Tyrosine needs to attach itself to another molecule to enter the brain. It helps your body maintain good digestion and other functions freeing the brain to work on producing dopamine. 

7. Listen to Music

Music has a vital role in dopamine production. It makes us feel as good as eating delicious food or watching our favorite movie and is the perfect counter to low mood.

However, the buzz you get when listening to your favorite song should be more than just a transient experience. Don’t rely too much on music alone to get your dopamine levels up.

Music has long been a part of human society, but it should be part of life rather than become the only thing that ever makes you feel good. 

Some music is specifically designed to appeal to the dopamine center of the brain, so be sure you are not just creating another addiction. 

8. Meditation

Alongside exercise, people are becoming more aware that regular meditation has many benefits. It can help if you suffer from overthinking – another modern-day addiction – which is a distracting habit that leaves us feeling anxious. 

Meditation can increase your dopamine production by clearing your mind of unnecessary and negative thought processes and replacing it with a feeling of fulfillment. 

There are different definitions for meditation. The most popular is derived from Eastern Meditation, where one empties their mind and tries to think of nothing. 

However, some fantastic research shows that this is not the most effective form of meditation. In fact, the most effective form is by oneself, in nature, but contemplating something - gratitude for blessings, opportunities, or relationships in your life. This denotes more of a prayerful element of meditation where there is an object in mind and realizing the power is not within you.

If you are not into meditation, prayer and moments of silence will work just as perfectly.

9. Use Supplements Wisely

There are several natural supplements available that can help increase dopamine levels in circulation. Although these can be useful, you should not use them to replace your natural feelings of fulfillment. 

The supplements can give you an idea of how you should be feeling, give you something to work towards, and should be used as a temporary fix to give a reference point to work with. 

Useful supplements include:

Acetyl-l-tyrosine: Assists the brain in dopamine production

Curcumin: Found in curry spice and turmeric.

Ginkgo Biloba: This is said to boost dopamine production and keep it active in the brain for longer.

10. Remove Toxins

Our body can accumulate toxins that are not good for us, including endotoxins which can upset our immune system and reduce dopamine production. 

If you eat fermented food, avoid fatty or sugary food, and get enough sleep, you should be able to remove any unwanted endotoxins quite quickly. Fatty and sugary foods are most tempting when we feel unfulfilled. Always make sure you work on your internal sense of fulfillment to prevent overeating or seeking sugar as a quick fix. 

Focusing on what is really fulfilling will take away the temptation to binge on foods that are just not good for you and boost your dopamine levels too.