Dopamine fasting has recently been gaining a lot of traction. Many people who have done it say it is an excellent way to eliminate bad habits. However, one thing that stands out in the dopamine fasting school of thought is that its proponents do not define clearly what it entails. For some proponents, the practice entails taking a break from addictive technologies like your smartphone, the internet, video games, or streaming sites such as Netflix.
For others, dopamine fasting includes taking a break from the delicious foods you like and other habits such as shopping or gambling. Some extreme proponents state that dopamine fasting eliminates unnecessary conversations or even eye contact. Simply put, it may include everything that gives you instant yet temporary pleasure.
Why is Dopamine Fasting Important?
At first glance, many people would say cutting down these technologies is good as it will reduce dopamine in the body, which is entirely wrong. I mean, for what good is it if dopamine is a naturally occurring body neurotransmitter?
Before we dig deeper into it, you need to know that dopamine fasting is not aimed at lowering dopamine levels in the body. It is meant to reduce impulsive behaviors that are rewarded by a dopamine rush. Think of it as an act of avoiding cues that trigger impulsive behaviors.
What’s The Thinking Behind a Dopamine Fasting?
Dopamine fasting can trace its roots to cognitive behavioral therapy. The idea behind it is to become less dominated by harmful stimuli such as the sound of your phone’s notification or the scent of your favorite dessert.
We live in a world where texts, funny videos, and the internet, in general, provide us with a short-lived charge. We, therefore, keep going around in circles trying to get the recharge, which ends up in an addiction.
Unfortunately, the reward ends as soon as you stop the activity. For instance, the excitement of scrolling through your social media ends as soon as you put your face down. The thinking behind dopamine fasting was to let the mind take a break from being around such instantly rewarding yet unhealthy stimuli.
This makes you wonder; what do you obtain doing the ‘natural things’ rather than the dopamine stimulating activities? Well, it is about getting the long-lived gratification the universe offers us. This way, you will forget the torture of going round and round seeking short-lived gratification.
Benefits of Dopamine Fasting
Many people have confessed that dopamine fasting was a critical practice that helped them get over:
- Excessive and emotional eating
- Internet addiction
- Porn addiction and masturbation
- Thrill and novelty seeking
- Shopping and gambling
- Recreational drugs.
Remember that these behaviors or small pleasures are not necessarily reinforced by dopamine. Dopamine is just a chemical that may control your addiction to these behaviors.
Signs That You Need a Dopamine Fast to Control a Particular Behavior
Picture this: You are working on your computer, and your phone is on your desk. No matter how hard you try to commit yourself, you cannot resist it; you want to pick it up and check or scroll through your social media.
You might have realized it is bad behavior that affects your day-to-day life. For instance, it may be the reason you are always behind schedule. You already know its effect on your life, but you cannot control yourself. You promise to keep off social media and your phone every other morning, but you just cannot. It is now like a drug.
If this is your situation with your phone, dopamine fasting may be helpful.
Here are clear signs that you need to make good use of dopamine fasting:
- You have a specific behavior that bothers you
- The behavior limits your performance at work or just in life
- You have tried cutting down this behavior without success
- You know how much better you can do in life if you get rid of that behavior.
How Do You Start a Dopamine Fast?
If you are a beginner in dopamine fasting, the following steps will be an excellent start for you:
- Point out one behavior you are struggling with. It becomes challenging to work on several behaviors at a go. It may feel torturous to abstain from everything you like all at a go.
- Abstain from the behavior for an hour a day, then two, three, and so on.
- Keep adding the hours and taking breaks in between. When you feel ready, take a day away from that small pleasure.
- You can then go for two days, three, and eventually a week.
If you keep doing these, you will soon realize that you will be free from the addiction. Now you will only consume the small pleasures when you want to.
Effects of Dopamine Fasting
Many people seek ways to eliminate some behaviors, such as phone addiction. One main query is whether dopamine fasting can help cure phone addiction. The answer will depend on how you take things. Deep down, you know that things such as gambling or being on your phone all day are not healthy for your body and mind, but you cannot control yourself.
The thing with dopamine fasting is it helps you develop self-discipline and self-control. There is no better tool to help combat minor addictions, such as developing self-discipline. You will, however, not develop it in a day. Be patient and consistent with yourself. You will finally get there.
Other than developing self-discipline, dopamine fasting can help with your mental clarity. Learning to abstain from things that bring instant yet temporal gratification is a sure way to make you more focused.
For instance, if you learn to keep off your phone during work hours, your mind will be clear and set on achieving your goals. Or, if you develop the self-control to step away from desserts at parties, your mind will stay focused on attaining your weight loss goals.
With mental clarity, you will stay focused and energized to work towards your goals.