When you've been scrolling for five hours without blinking, it's quite ironic: It speaks directly to everyone who loves the speed of social media, as well as anyone who needs to do ten things at once all the time.
The purpose of this exercise isnt a detox, but rather a break from certain behaviors that are known to activate the reward system in your brain, such as scrolling online. If it gives you a rush of excitement, you can thank the feel-good hormone dopamine for that.
Dr. Taylor Day, a clinical psychologist and mental wellness and alignment coach, can also be useful if you no longer want to enjoy the quieter, slower moments in life because to all the over-stimulation. Or how you no longer have the desire to cook anymore because it's far easier (and more convenient) to order takeout.
When a surge of dopamine is always ringing your name, its easy to see why these things will not work as they used to, and why you might want to detox. Read on for more about the practice.
Dopamine Detox: How To Do It
The thought of having to do something more may be a sign to shut down, turn off electronic devices, and check in with yourself. The same is true if you need to be alert 24 hours a day.
Day suggests looking into the areas of your life that make you feel burnout or overwhelmed, as well as those that give you a quick thrill in the comments section. Do you need to have 800 movies, songs, and podcasts playing at the same time?
Jaime Mahler, LMHC, a licensed mental health therapist, recommends picking one or two activities, then delimiting or refraining from them for a period of time. Take the time to analyze why you crave the dopamine injections, or what you may be concealing.
Instead of watching Netflix for hours before bed, try yoga. You can also go for a walk, talk to friends, or just do nothing at all.
The Benefits of a Dopamine Detox
Do you want to get some motivation to try it? Here are a few advantages of doing a dopamine detox.
Gardner-Wright believes that social networking and other excessive activities can make you feel calmer and less stressed in the moment.
A little boredom and quiet can help you recover from a lack of creativity or a lack of productivity. According to Gardner-Wright, dopamine detoxes help you to get back into your creative and intuition by eliminating distractions and the mental static of being constantly stimulated. It makes room for your own thoughts, ideas, and sensations, rather than being distracted by them.
It's super common and also super understandable to seek out pleasurable activities as a way to calm down troubling thoughts. In addition, overloading your brain with stimulation can also help clear away unwanted thoughts. However, sometimes it's beneficial to let them emerge.
All of the emotions and sensations will flow out when you quite literally turn off the noise, and youll have a chance to investigate them. According to Gardner-Wright, journaling, deep breathing, and talking with a friend or therapist can help you through the discomfort and emerge stronger.
Take a break from your go-to dopamine-spiking activities, whether it's online shopping, watching choppy television, or scrolling social media, can provide a nice break for your body and mind.
Day explains that often when we are in this state of wanting more, our body goes into overdrive and our nervous system can easily become fried. That's why taking this detox may help treat and prevent burnout.
Gardner-Wright cautions that your brain and nervous system are used to constant high stimulation. However, you're actually forming new neural networks by avoiding the temptation to read a book, walking, or focusing on one activity at a time.
Having a natural balance can help you to be more in control of your dopamine cravings. Instead of worrying about Watching Love Island as you get ready for bed, it'll feel more like a choice. The same goes for checking your phone, looking at TikTok, etc.
How Does It Feel To Do A Dopamine Detox?
Do you want to do a dopamine detox, at least in the beginning. It's difficult to stop doing something your brain loves, according to Mahler, so you'll likely have a hard time not looking at your phone, turning on that podcast, or watching television while you're eating dinner. It'll feel strange, quiet, and utterly boring compared to what you've ever experienced.
Remind yourself that this isnt a punishment for your brain, but a nice little break. Mahler says the detox should be focused on healing and self-growth. Think of it as a form of mindfulness that helps you reconnect with yourself.
Firth, J. 2019. The "online brain": How the Internet Might Be Changing Our Mental Health
Hartston, H. (2012) The case for compulsive shopping as an addiction. J Psychoactive D. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2012.660110.
Westbrook, A. 2021. Smartphone social activity reflects striiatal dopamine synthesis capacity. iScience. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102497
Stephanie Gardner-Wright, LMSW, is a licensed psychotherapist.
Dr. Taylor Day, a clinical psychologist, mental wellness and alignment coach, is a nationally recognized authority.
Jaime Mahler, LMHC, is a licensed mental health therapist.