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Published on:

22nd Dec 2021

Dopamine Detox vs Dopamine Fasting

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A Detox to End Them All


A dopamine detox is a new strategy that can help you reduce the levels of dopamine your brain is used to. It’s a relatively new technique that draws from existing theories and research to help you unplug and cut down on all the activities that are keeping you hooked. If you do such a detox, you’ll notice that much of the vocabulary comes from the addiction world, and that’s because the underlying mechanisms for “classic” addictions to things like alcohol or drugs are essentially the same as the ones keeping you hooked to online shopping, Instagram, or “doomscrolling” on your phone at night when you should be sleeping.


02:27 Here are some habits and activities that can give you dopamine, but which are not all that great for you.


• Using social media, messengers, and your phone


• Video games and mobile games


• Watching shows, movies, and consuming content in general


• Consuming pornography


• Eating high-sugar foods and snacks, junk food


• Taking stimulants - coffee, tea, chocolate, some sodas, and sugary drinks, drugs


• Online shopping and browsing without purchasing


• Consuming online content that features clickbait, outrage, and other manipulative strategies


A 1-day detox is the best way to start the process and what Kirby describes as a “hard reset.” What will you do during these 24 hours? You will not take part in any activities that stimulate your dopamine, such as the ones described above. You will not use your computer or your phone at all, you will not consume drugs or stimulants, you will not game, and you will just not engage in any activities that offer instant gratification. You’re not punishing yourself. You’re just removing the existential junk food from your life.


10:37 A 7-Day Detox Plan


For a seven-day detox plan, you will pick one day per week to do a detox. It’s usually better to do it during the weekend, as work might depend on your ability to answer your emails or use your phone and computer. Choose a day every week to perform a reset and disconnect from all the activities that demand your attention. It will help you stay mindful and aware of the instant gratification activities and focus on your goals and ideas. As you do it more, you might discover the type of tasks and activities that best fit your situation and your needs.


12:20 Dopamine fasting


Dopamine fasting is a term that is often used interchangeably with dopamine detox. We can define dopamine fasting as the process of long-term change in dopamine-related habits, while a detox is a short-term practice. Fasting is another way to bring down the levels of dopamine in your brain and to increase your focus.


Dopamine fasting is meant to be sustainable, so it’s important that you choose a strategy that works for you and a timeline that is realistic. Don’t try to simply cut out all dopamine sources and instead focus on problematic behaviors that are hurting you in some way. This will help you reduce dopamine levels more effectively without necessarily losing the enjoyment other, healthy activities bring you, too.


#AddictiveBehaviors #ADopamineDetox #AndrewKirby #Detox #DetoxPlan #Dopamine #DopamineDetox #DopamineFasting #DopamineTolerance #DrCameronSeraph #DrSeraph #HighDopamineLevels #InstantGratification #NickTrenton #DopamineDetox #RussellNewton #NewtonMG #DopamineDetox


Transcript

A Detox to End Them All

A dopamine detox is a new strategy that can help you reduce the levels of dopamine your brain is used to. It’s a relatively new technique that draws from existing theories and research to help you unplug and cut down on all the activities that are keeping you hooked. If you do such a detox, you’ll notice that much of the vocabulary comes from the addiction world, and that’s because the underlying mechanisms for “classic” addictions to things like alcohol or drugs are essentially the same as the ones keeping you hooked to online shopping, Instagram, or “doomscrolling” on your phone at night when you should be sleeping.

One of the most effective biohacks you can orchestrate for yourself is not to develop superhuman memory or bulletproof immunity, but rather to break the mental and psychological chains of dopamine tolerance. Your brain is used to receiving dopamine from “easy” activities or from activities that induce a high level of this substance. We can get the rush in a way that does not require us to work for it and that puts us off other activities that lead to better results and are overall healthier and more purposeful but feel too dull when compared to all the tasks that give us instant gratification. Nope, it’s not an existential crisis – your dopamine system’s just broken!

g other things (Andrew Kirby,:

02:27 Here are some habits and activities that can give you dopamine, but which are not all that great for you.

• Using social media, messengers, and your phone

• Video games and mobile games

• Watching shows, movies, and consuming content in general

• Consuming pornography

• Eating high-sugar foods and snacks, junk food

• Taking stimulants - coffee, tea, chocolate, some sodas, and sugary drinks, drugs

• Online shopping and browsing without purchasing

• Consuming online content that features clickbait, outrage, and other manipulative strategies

These activities tend to waste a lot of our time and create higher levels of dopamine. They’re like junk food for life – they’re great in the moment but lack spiritual or emotional nutrition and leave you worse off than before. It’s worth noting that all rewarding activities can stimulate the release of dopamine, but the ones that offer instant gratification are especially powerful and can be hard to quit.

A dopamine detox is meant to reset your brain and allow you time to just be with yourself. It can help you explore what happens when you give up on this dopamine rush and instead allow yourself to be bored, to be alone with yourself, and let your thoughts come and go uninterrupted. Build tolerance for craving, dissatisfaction, and having to wait. It may feel like deprivation in the moment, but in fact you are building your ability to experience more pleasure. It’s like the person who hasn’t eaten junk food for years: when they taste an ultra-processed deep-fried meal, they don’t enjoy it, and they genuinely find more pleasure in foods that are natural, wholesome, and less stimulating.

So, how exactly can we use these principles to make concrete changes to our lives? The first thing to get clear on is that a dopamine detox isn’t, by definition, a quick fix. It’s not going to feel easy, pleasant, or thrilling. But it isn’t meant to be. Pay attention to any feelings you have of breezing through a one-day detox and coming out the other end magically transformed with very little effort – that’s just the dopamine talking!

A 1-day detox is the best way to start the process and what Kirby describes as a “hard reset.” What will you do during these 24 hours? You will not take part in any activities that stimulate your dopamine, such as the ones described above. You will not use your computer or your phone at all, you will not consume drugs or stimulants, you will not game, and you will just not engage in any activities that offer instant gratification. You’re not punishing yourself. You’re just removing the existential junk food from your life.

If you want to engage in this detox in an approachable way, you can cut down on these activities. The first thing you’ll notice is an almost irresistible pull toward your phone, the TV, or that sugary treat. That’s okay. Your head may fill with a million reasons why a detox is a stupid idea, and why you don’t have to do it anymore. That’s also okay. You may get depressed, angry, or bored. All normal. Just become aware of all of this and stay in the moment – you are rewiring your impulses and perceptions. Be patient. How does it feel to be so out of control, or compelled in this way? Does the world really end when you don’t instantly get what you want? And really, is the thing you think you needed all that great?

In the big hole where your addictive behaviors used to be, you may suddenly feel at a loss. You can instead try spending your time:

• Meditating

• Journaling or writing

• Walking

• Reading

• Sharing with others, talking in person

If you want to make it even more challenging and get a taste of a true reset, cut out all activities except for meditating. You might even try fasting for a day. The more activities you cut out, the harder it will be, but the rewards can be greater as well. You might discover your thoughts and feelings, desires and ideas, and feel how you can be when all these distractions are not in the way.

A one-day detox is not going to resolve all on-going issues, but it can help you give your brain a nudge and an experience that will allow you to feel ready to make bigger and more lasting changes.

You will likely feel frustrated or bored. You might reach out for your usual distractions and feel stress because you are depriving yourself of something you are accustomed to. That doesn’t feel comfortable.

This is a discomfort you can tolerate. You might discover something new and unexpected about yourself and experience something that you usually don’t. The discomfort will pass, and you can feel empowered by this success.

You do not have to depend on easy sources of dopamine to feel satisfied. You can shift toward more productive things, like reflection, creation rather than consumption, and others, setting goals that will motivate you in a deeper and more meaningful way.

Writing your book is deeply satisfying. It’s not easy and it takes time, but it offers a more lasting source of pride, meaning, and joy than a YouTube video or a TikTok binge.

Working out regularly is not just satisfying; it can also make a huge positive difference for your health. But exercise is often not a source of instant gratification, because it can be painful and hard and require effort. The effects will be felt over time, and the long-term gratification is likely to be great, if we can hold on for long enough.

Consider what habits and goals you could pursue that are not working as well due to your focus on instant gratification. What could you accomplish if you were truly focused, energized, and had enough time?

A one-day detox is a first step toward new and better habits. But a one-time detox is unlikely to work without further follow-up.

A three-day detox can be a more challenging task and can help you recognize the habits you want to keep. It would involve a similar approach to a one-day detox, eliminating all the thrills and stimulants that keep your dopamine levels up, especially things like social media, drugs including caffeine, and more; although a three-day detox might require you to be less stringent, in particular, not doing things like fasting. However, after one day, you can consider and reflect the habits you want to bring back to your life in a more mindful way.

Three days can allow you the chance to see how you feel without your social media or coffee for longer and whether these things are worth reintroducing into your life.

Ask yourself whether these things bring value, whether you truly miss them or just miss the satisfaction and gratification they brought. How do you feel in their absence? How focused are you? What happens when you bring them back and how does your focus shift?

10:37 A 7-Day Detox Plan

For a seven-day detox plan, you will pick one day per week to do a detox. It’s usually better to do it during the weekend, as work might depend on your ability to answer your emails or use your phone and computer. Choose a day every week to perform a reset and disconnect from all the activities that demand your attention. It will help you stay mindful and aware of the instant gratification activities and focus on your goals and ideas. As you do it more, you might discover the type of tasks and activities that best fit your situation and your needs.

Some people take a detox to its logical extreme: they fast or they cut contact with others. You don’t need to do that unless you feel it would be beneficial. Simply cutting out the most thrilling and extreme experiences for a while should be enough to feel the effects of a detox.

The most extreme version that might bring to mind a hermit or an ascetic, however, is also there if you would like the challenge. It confronts you with your own ideas and beliefs in a strong way and might leave you unsettled or uncomfortable.

Remember that it’s not a good idea to push yourself too far beyond your limits, so you can try building up to this experience by trying something else first. Try the milder version and see how you feel. Cut out more activities for a day. Eventually, you might be ready for a day spent doing nothing but meditating, thinking, and being with yourself.

12:20 Dopamine fasting

Dopamine fasting is a term that is often used interchangeably with dopamine detox. We can define dopamine fasting as the process of long-term change in dopamine-related habits, while a detox is a short-term practice. Fasting is another way to bring down the levels of dopamine in your brain and to increase your focus.

tlined by Dr. Cameron Seraph (:

Dopamine fasting is focused on reducing specific problematic behaviors and increasing the activities that are good, value-aligned, and healthy for you, like exercising, socializing, and so on.

The suggested times for shifting impulsive behaviors through dopamine fasting involve doing at least one or more hours of fasting every day, plus one weekend day, one weekend every quarter, and one week every year. The suggestion is to shift one’s environment for the longer fasts, going on a trip, or spending the day outside and away from the temptations of the modern home. If you are doing the process and you still live with your family who are not engaged in any kind of issue, going outside might be even better, as other people’s activities can take you away from your time of relaxation and unplugging. The outside makes these temptations easier to manage and also provides you enough stimulation to keep you active rather than bored out of your skull (not that boredom is necessarily a bad thing).

Sometimes, you can’t give up a specific behavior. For example, maybe your family watches a show together or you still need access to your smartphone. The idea is to cut down on the time and space you give this behavior. Limit it and lay down clear boundaries:

• You can only check social media for fifteen minutes every day

• You use your smartphone in the evening right before dinner

• You watch one episode of the show with your partner

Place clear limits with regards to time and enforce them; don’t be afraid to tell others what you are doing and how you are doing it. Use timers to check it and apps that monitor your behavior too, if you tend to get engrossed. It’s a good idea to have clear triggers for each behavior that mark the beginning and also the end. For example:

• You take out your phone after dinner

• You send messages while you wait for your ride

• You watch a show between 7 and 7:30 and stop after a single episode

You can target any problematic behaviors that keep you hooked and are causing your distress. Through fasting, you reduce your dependence on these behaviors. When you engage in fasting, having clear limits will also help others take you seriously and offer more support for your decision.

Unlike a dopamine detox, Dr. Seraph does not suggest that you give up all activities during the fast. However, he suggests that it’s important to focus on regular and pleasant activities that reflect your goals and values, such as exercising, creating, making, cleaning, and so on. Dedicate the space for activities that align with your goals, like learning a new and desirable skill or working on your art.

Dopamine fasting is meant to be sustainable, so it’s important that you choose a strategy that works for you and a timeline that is realistic. Don’t try to simply cut out all dopamine sources and instead focus on problematic behaviors that are hurting you in some way. This will help you reduce dopamine levels more effectively without necessarily losing the enjoyment other, healthy activities bring you, too.

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About the Podcast

Voice over Work - An Audiobook Sampler
You know that guy that reads all the time, and always has a book recommendation for you?

Well, I read and/or produce hundreds of audiobooks a year, and when I read one that has good material, I feature it here. This is my Recommended Listening list. These choices are not influenced by authors or sponsors, just books worthy of your consideration.

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Russell Newton