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6 dopamine hacks to help you flow like a pro.

Dopamine is becoming a very trendy hormone in the health & wellness scene – what’s that all about then?

Are you looking to improve your energy and motivation levels?

Hoping to find the elusive flow state?

If so, it could be time to start focusing on dopamine regulation.

Dopamine is the latest buzz neurotransmitter because it is responsible for reward-motivated behaviour, motivation, our drive and ambition. Dopamine also helps to regulate our sleep/wake cycles as well as emotions and movement.

We all find ourselves feeling unmotivated or lacking in energy at times (afternoon slump anyone?). Obviously, it's going to depend hugely on your lifestyle, but our energy and mood is massively affected imbalances in dopamine levels, and there are ways to shift that.

Regulating your dopamine levels can be a game-changer when it comes to improving focus, productivity and sustaining energy levels through the day. It's not just the quick hit when you review your social media. There is so much more, and there are ways to use it to your advantage.

Simply put, it’s about self care and knowing your rhythms - and there may be a few nifty lifestyle changes necessary if you want to ensure that your dopamine is prompted and regulated properly.

There are a number of relatively easy tricks and tips that we can make habitual over time, that look like this:

1) Get plenty of sleep

Make sure that you’re getting between 6-8 hours of quality sleep each night so your body has a chance to repair itself from the day’s activities and produce more dopamine. If sleep is an issue for you, commit to a gentle evening regime for yourself.

Eliminate the things you know you need to eliminate (allow the mind to wind down with an evening routine or ritual. This should include switching off screens at least an hour before bed, reduce alcohol, sugar and caffeine to name a few).

2) Increase physical activity.

Exercise produces the yummy endorphins which interact with receptor cells in the brain that increase dopamine production.

Moving the body in the morning especially, boosts our natural level of alertness as well as improve our mood and shapes the day. So it could be time to get up and get moving! However it needs to look and feel for you.

There are so many amazing holistic practices like yoga, tai chi, qi gong, dance and somatic movement - there doesn't have to be any restriction. Just allow your body to move.

3) Eat well – we hear it all the time.

The truth is, consuming natural whole foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole foods increases serotonin levels in the brain, and promote gut health. There are neurons and receptors in the gut. Healthy gut, healthy mind - it's all connected.

Eating healthy foods provides our brilliant bodies with the nutrients it needs to fuel the brain to produce more dopamine. Choose good whole proteins, low-fat dairy products, legumes such as lentils or beans, leafy greens like spinach or kale. Fresh fruits, good oils, nuts and seeds - all these will help keep our bodies nourished so we have more mental clarity throughout the day!

Avoid caffeine in the first hour after waking, and limit caffeine intake – it certainly has it’s place as a quick boost, but too much is going to lead to increased anxiety which rocks any type of serotonin/norepinephrine balance. This induces those familiar crash feelings of fatigue & exhaustion a few hours afterwards.

Decaf or herbal teas are going to keep you hydrated. Caffeine alternatives such as Cacao, Lions Mane and Chaga Mushrooms for example are excellent super brain food that enhance focus and keep those high purposeful vibes flowing!

4) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Dehydration can affect everything, not to mention your mood so make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day. The circuits of the brain and nervous system need it.

Many ancient cultures have practices based around water, such as ‘purifying’ or blessing the water. Indigenous cultures the world over have practiced water rituals through the ages. This could be as simple as giving thanks for the clean life giving water before and as you drink it.

Dr Masaru Emoto was a modern pioneer of the study of water, who demonstrated how water exposed to loving, benevolent and compassionate human intention results in aesthetically pleasing physical molecular formations in the water. When water is exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions it results in disconnected, disfigured, and “unpleasant” physical molecular formations.

The theory and practice is – if our body is 70% water, we should be giving it a constant, consistent good health message to course through our system.

5) Reduce stress

This is easy to say I know. When the plates are spinning and the phone is pinging, just one more thing is gonna tip you.

So don't allow it.

Simple disciplines such as turning off notifications on emails and apps can help reduce stress levels when you need to focus. If it's not urgent, or a non negotiable for you - let them wait, and stay in your centre, stay on track.

Stress has been scientifically proven to disrupt our natural mood balance by increasing cortisol production, creating an imbalance between serotonin and norepinephrine.

Keep stress at bay by organising your time and making sure you take time for yourself every day. However that needs to look for you. Dance, sing, yoga, breathing exercises, journaling, or just relax and ‘be’.

Give your body a chance to catch up and rejuvenate itself!

By taking 10–15 minutes out of our day (often) in order to come into stillness, contemplation, conscious deep breathing without any distractions, we can increase dopamine production and create new neural pathways. This will allow us better concentration and cognitive performance during the rest of our day as well as help reduce stress-levels which has its own set of benefits like improved mood etc.

Give the body the time and space it needs to catch up with your marvellous mind!

6) Choose how you spend your time and energy wisely.

Is it all work and little play?

Is it all about other people, and what they want/need?

Is it rushed?

A great exercise is keeping a time journal to assess where your time and energy are going right now, and how that makes you feel.

When you get clear on where you are at, and where you want to be at, now we can take the next steps on the journey with healthy boundaries and structure.

Spending quality time with loved ones and cool people that we respect and admire strengthens social bonds which increases oxytocin production in our brains. Oxytocin is the hormone which aids in regulating both serotonin & norepinephrine while lowering cortisol levels.

Taking some time out from work and life pressure every now and then throughout the week allows us some much needed human connection that helps boost our vitality. It also challenges the mindset part of us that feels the guilt and the ‘shoulds’. These minor discomforts can be shifted as we start to play with new neural pathways, and create more of the good hormones, and less of the bad.

Self regulate. Mind, body, spirit - it's all one.

These simple tips will help towards ensuring better regulation of your own nervous system, and your personal level of dopamine – something we all could benefit from knowing.

Taking care of yourself is taking responsibility for your life - it doesn’t have to take up too much time either. Sometimes it feels like changing my lifestyle habits is such a huge task - it's not.

Just implementing a few micro changes each day until they become new habits - it won’t be long before those highs vibrations start to increase.

As the dopamine episodes increase - your will to do more of the good stuff will increase too. We are re-wiring, retraining, reawakening.

It won’t be long before you realise you are finishing tasks, rather than just starting them.

It won't be long before your focus is laser sharp and fully present.

It won't be long before your mindset is shifting and your body is changing to carry you in ways you may not have experienced before.

It won’t be long, before you are really making strides towards creating and radiating some really special stuff out here in the world, making an impact through the essence of your joy. That’s what you came to do, right?

I hold one to one space for all this and more - to combine the science and spirit for a fully holistic approach to life. We are stepping up!!

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