First of all dopamine detox is not some magic, which will make you successful or disciplined. It is a tool to achieve discipline. Dopamine detox is the process of controlling the dopamine levels of your brain. Which is done by restricting some of the addictive activities during the day. Most people fall into a trap, by watching a lot of videos on the YouTube and reading articles from Facebook. Assuming that they will start doing hard things that they procrastinate on, once they do the dopamine detox. That they will have a happy ever after and will become a superhuman capable of doing insane things. None of this is going to happen by doing dopamine detox once.
But what it can do is help you make a little structure around your life to maintain a balance between work and enjoyment.
Dopamine use and what is the role of dopamine
Dopamine is the pleasure hormone that your body makes. Which acts as a reward system and which motivates you to work more when it is released in your body. It is also important to remember that too much of dopamine release in your body can create some problem in your work performance.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical made in the brain. And it works as a chemical messenger between the neurons of your brain. Some people also call it a “ Feel good chemical”.
For example- when you work for a long time without Checking your social media apps. And when you finally complete your work and proceed to check your phone and scroll on the social apps. At that moment your brain releases dopamine as a reward for the hard work that you put in before and after checking your social media apps.It is also released when you do some pleasure activity after performing some task or physical work.
What is dopamine detox
Now that we have understood how dopamine works.Which is basically a rewarding chemical in our brain that is released after we have completed a task. It is released even when we are not working, because it is released even when we are anticipating something or expecting a notification or a call, when we smoke, masturbate or eat junk food etc. Dopamine rewires our brain completely, when we get addicted to certain activities as those activities releases dopamine in our brain when we perform those activities.
The main idea behind dopamine detox is to stay away from the self destructing habits due to which dopamine is released in our brain and this is done to control those habits.
But now the main question arises is that does it really work ?
Our Brain psychology is trained over the years to function in cue, craving, response and reward structure often referred to as a dopamine-driven feedback loop. When you search on this topic of dopamine detox, you will find a lot of videos that says stop using social media for 7 days or 15 days and stop pornography and stop the things that you crave the most.
Nowadays our ability to retain attention and focus for longer period of time has gone lower due to the tendency to get rewards instantly. if we are to put this in simple words, When you are constantly self pleasuring yourself with continuously scrolling on social media, watching porn, eating fast food etc. Your are doing nothing but destroying your own life. Rewards are the things that keeps us motivated to go further in life.
That is why dopamine is released when we complete some goal in our life. It is also released even when we are re-watching our favorite TV show that we have seen multiple times, because dopamine is released when we see out favorite star and show.
Scientists at first thought that dopamine is just a feel good chemical that is released whenever we feel pleasure or anticipate pleasure. But now we have realized that it plays a key role in several other neurological processes. like developing new habits and behaviors, new skills and many other movements.
How to Dopamine detox
At this point you should have understood that dopamine is not something from which you can detoxify yourself from. It is a very important neurotransmitter without which we will not be able to function properly. Due to over usage of the social media and internet, we have the luxury of releasing this pleasure chemical at the click of our finger. which our ancestors never ever dream of and they had to work for all day and put in the effort for this chemical to be released.
So now due to availability of abundance of pleasure activities. our brain expect this dopamine hit in short spans of time. This is also the reason we start to feel anxiety when we focus on task for a long time without getting this dopamine release in the brain. That is why we do dopamine detox to abstain from the activities that causes the release of this chemical instantly at the click of a button.
The main aim of dopamine detox is also to structure a balance in your life. And to do that you have to slowly work towards removing habits that are sabotaging your dreams and goals. you cannot instantly discipline yourself to doing hard things and removing bad habits. To do this you have to be little patient about the process. Following are the steps you can follow to do that:
- Identify:- To remove all the activities that gives us short term pleasure, you have to identify them first. Only identify the habits that are stopping you from focusing on important tasks. These activities could be like, checking Instagram after every 5 minutes or scrolling on YouTube for long hours and eating junk food while you are on diet.
- Cues:- cue is the trigger that activates the habitual behavior. so you need to identify the cues that lead to performing of those activities that you want to eliminate. for example:- Whenever you feel little anxious while solving a problem, you will pick up your phone to avoid that problem and save it for later. But to eliminate this behavior you will need to put your phone as away as possible or maybe in another room to avoid checking your phone instantly whenever you feel anxious while solving a problem.
- control the cues:- The cues that trigger the response in your brain to start using your phone or do other activity that you want to stop, needs to be eliminated. you do that by controlling them or restricting the cues. you need to put in some restriction between the cue and response time. example;- if you check Instagram every 5 minutes. you need to uninstall it from you phone and only check it on the laptop. Next you will also log out from the laptop after using it. in this way you will need to put in more effort to use Instagram and your brain will not put in that effort after every 5 minutes and you will be able to control you addictive behavior
- Cold turkey:- The simple and the tough way is to stop performing all those activities all at once for a month at first. In this way you will be able to remove all those habits and make new ones. but this method is difficult and only works if you make very hard choices to change yourself. As you would need to uninstall all the extra apps and start a workout regime and at the same time start working on something that keeps you distracted and engaged from all those bad habits
At the end i would like to say to you that dopamine detox is just a fancy name to describe what is really just learning to be a bit more self regulated/self aware.