The role of dopamine in hijacking our lives and how to get control back
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical substance which is released at the end of a nerve fibre by the arrival of a nerve impulse and, by diffusing across the synapse or junction, to another nerve fibre, a muscle fibre, or some other structure.) that is involved in everything we do from regulating movements to controlling our attention. It is the force that makes us do things and plays a vital part in our brain's reward system by acting as a chemical messenger. People often misunderstand dopamine as the "pleasure chemical," but it is a wrong concept because dopamine controls your wants and desires, not liking and pleasure.
Today's world is full of distractions. Everywhere you go people are seeking your attention and making money out of it but in this process, you are losing your valuable time. According to scientists, scrolling down social media or watching youtube videos are highly stimulating activities as they help trigger the release of dopamine in your brain which leads you to watch one more youtube video or play video games for one more hour, etc.
Social media are designed with such algorithms that attract us all to it. For example, youtube suggestion videos are heavily customised according to your taste. Their greatest weapon from my point of view is notification, because every time your phone buzzes with a new message or a notification pops up on your screen (cue) you become eager to check it (craving that is the dopamine rush in your system).
Then you grab your phone and read the message or watch the video you were notified with before (that is your response to your craving) and at the end you satisfy your craving to read the message. And this process continuously happens every time your phone dings with a new notification. It is like a never-ending loop and you eventually become associated with it. Every time you find yourself doing something pleasurable you are anticipating something (rewards) and that is your dopamine working, urging you to go and do the task and get your rewards.
So, now the question is how can we keep the right balance of dopamine in our systems? And that is when the term "dopamine detox" comes up, or we can also call it dopamine fasting. The term sounds fancy, but all you need to do is keep yourself away from all kinds of stimulating activities or things that give you pleasure.
For instance, you need to abstain from using your mobile phone for an entire day (24-hour detox) or even more. Fasting from dopamine you are removing the sources of want and desire in your life and abstaining yourself from all the things that control you daily.
After you complete your detox you will feel calm, relaxed, and focused on your actual work afterward. Eventually, you will have control over your life. You can also do some meditation, journaling, and reading during your detox. This will help you understand your environment in a far better way and help you become healthy and productive in what you do and stop procrastinating your work.
The article is compiled by Jannatun Nayma.
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