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Have you ever thought about what makes you happy? Or even why it makes you happy? The answers for everyone could be slightly different. For example, some people love to travel the world and try new experiences, while others may be homebody’s and want to curl up under a blanket on their couch and read a good book. The way we experience happiness is what makes us all unique.

However, there are some activities that can distort the way our body processes happiness. An easy example of this is social media. Apps like Instagram and TikTok have perfected the art of feeding us content that increases our dopamine levels which keeps us addicted to scrolling. It’s actually kind of crazy, the first time you scroll through social media, your brain releases dopamine and you experience a sense of happiness. However, in order to reach that same level of happiness we previously hit, we need to spend MORE time on the same app. As you can see, this quickly becomes an endless cycle of scrolling on social media.

Not all dopamine spikes are bad. In fact, below are 8 HEALTHY ways you increase your dopamine levels that are beneficial for your health!

Healthy Ways to Boost Dopamine

1. Exercise

It can be walking, lifting weights or playing a sport. What matters is that you’re moving your body and being active. Physical activity increases dopamine and improves overall health, mood, and energy levels. I notice that when I start my day with an exercise, it totally changes my mood for the rest of the day.

2. Healthy Eating

If you know me, you know it’s no surprise to see healthy eating on the list. Eating real foods is one of the best things you can do for your health, and that includes your dopamine levels. Grocery stores are filled with fake, processed foods. The more you can replace the fake food with real food, the better off you’ll be!

3. Meditation and Mindfulness

A lot of people don’t know where to start when it comes to meditation. At first, it can feel uncomfortable or overwhelming. But meditation doesn’t have to be some sort of grand gesture. It can be as simple as closing your eyes for 10 seconds while you’re sitting down and letting your mind wander. Starting to build this habit can increase dopamine levels and improve mental health, reducing stress and anxiety.

4. Learning New Things

Not too long ago I started playing Pickleball. And now, I can’t get enough of it! I look forward to playing every day, learning new techniques and testing out a new strategy. It turns out I’m releasing dopamine each time I acquire new skills or knowledge and it contributes to my personal growth and brain health.

5. Creative Hobbies

Playing the guitar allows me to express my creativity in a completely different way than what I do during work. I get in a different kind of zone when I play the guitar and it gives me so much energy. It’s no surprise for many people who have creative hobbies that engaging in creative activities like painting, writing, or playing a musical instrument can be rewarding and therapeutic.

6. Socializing

Life would be a lot less fun if we didn’t celebrate it with friends and family. This is one on the list that feels obvious but is just as important as all of the other ones. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, it can be as simple as calling someone you haven’t talked to in a while or saying hi to your neighbor next time you see them on a walk. Positive interactions with friends and family can trigger dopamine release and improve your emotional wellbeing.

7. Volunteering and Acts of Kindness

I recently visited my manager in Florida and I was there for a few weeks. Each Friday we went to the local food bank and helped make food or helped distribute the food. I thought I was doing something good for other people, but I was actually helping myself in a way too. It turns out helping others can lead to a sense of accomplishment and happiness, boosting dopamine in a fulfilling way.

8. Adequate Sleep

We recently had a hormone expert on our podcast (listen here) and he said one of the most important things you can do to age gracefully is prioritize sleep. We also did a full podcast on the importance of sleep too. Experts have found that regular, healthy sleep patterns can balance neurotransmitter levels, including dopamine, contributing to overall wellbeing.

Next time you’re tempted to grab your phone and open social media, refer back to this list and choose one of the 8 healthy habits above to improve your health!

About Clean Kitchen Nutrition

I go down the aisles of the grocery store so I can help you put the highest quality ingredients into your body!

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  1. Thank-you for these suggestions; most of which I do incorporate into my busy lifestyle. Noting gratitude at the end of my day & practicing unattached, gratitude for what might become in my day gives me solace. Please keep up your fine work