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What Is A Dopamine-Detox, And Why Should You Try One?

What are you waiting for? Unplug already.

A flurry of hearts emerging from smart phone.

We all know that social media is engineered to be addictive. Our attention is the product that these various platforms seek. They’ll go to extreme lengths to keep us engaged, & I think it’s time we re-capture our most valuable asset: time. 

But how do we take action against these platforms, & how is dopamine-related to our social media use?

What is Dopamine?

A conductor controls an orchestra.
Credit: Pxfuel

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain. I like to think of it as the conductor of an orchestra. 

It turns on, turns off, turns up the volume, & turns down the volume on a lot of different areas in the brain, & as a result, it has an outsized influence on our behavior.

Dopamine grants us feelings of pleasure, reinforcement, & euphoria when we do things that promote our survival & our reproduction, such as eating food, drinking water, winning competitions, & having sex.

The Dopamine Trap in Modern Day Society

A chocolate and carrot on shown side by side.
Credit: Marcelo/Pixnio (Left)
Credit: Marco Verch/Flickr (Right)

Imagine you’re at a table & there are two options in front of you: chocolates & carrots. Your brain is going to compare the two & determine which one will give you the most dopamine. Nine times out of ten, you’re going to go to the chocolates, because your brain views the chocolates as more rewarding than the carrots. 

We have these options constantly in our day-to-day lives. However, society has taken the choice between chocolates or carrots & put them on steroids. Instead of chocolate, we have the option of Mcdonalds, Instagram, Tik Tok, Video Games, Porn, & more. 

The Instagram logo, PornHub logo, McDonalds Logo, and Tik Tok logo occupy four parts of the photo.
Credit: Tumisu/Pixabay (Top Left)
Credit: Marco Verch/Flickr (Top Right)
Credit: Pxfuel (Bottom Left)
Credit: Nikuga/Pixabay (Bottom Right)

And now, the carrot looks even worse. The carrot symbolizes the boring and difficult activities one must do, such as schoolwork, maintaining healthy eating regimens, reading work emails, & more. 

So, how can we learn to enjoy the carrot?

What Is A Dopamine Detox?

A dopamine detox is not a fast from dopamine, but a fast from the short-term activities that flood your brain with dopamine without you having to do much. When we do a detox, we remove the option for instant gratification, & find appeal in the boring, difficult activities where gratification is delayed.

There are two parts of a dopamine detox: the Hard Reset & the Rewiring Phase. The hard reset is a 24-hour period where you abstain from all activities that are negatively induced through dopamine. 

A comprehensive list detailing what is okay and what is not during the dopamine detox.
Credit: Andrew Kirby/YouTube

Within the Hard Reset, there are three levels you can choose from beginner, intermediate, & time theorist. The words colored red show what you can’t do, while the green shows what you can do within the 24-hour period.

The detox sets you up for the Rewiring Phase, which is an ongoing process of stepping away from short-term activities that are repeated & reinforced through dopamine & replacing them with healthier habits. Here’s a comprehensive list of awesome hobbies and activities to explore instead of mindlessly surfing the internet.

Final Thoughts

Social media is here to stay. Let’s figure out how to best navigate this reality & deal with it in a way that actually benefits our life instead of taking away from it.

Read More: The Rise of The Instagram Influencer: Are You Under The Influence?

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