Updated: Apr 28
Dopamine fasting or dopamine detox are misleading, catchy titles that social media have picked up, and they ran with it. Dopamine fasting was created by Dr Cameron Sepah, a method based on cognitive behavioural therapy to help with addictive disorders and not the neurotransmitter itself.
In today's society, smartphones make everything accessible at our fingertips. Digital dependency can make us "dopamine junkies". Along with recreational drugs, our brain can rewire the pleasure pathway causing a flood of dopamine every time we get a hit of satisfaction "reward". My digital dependency intrigued me with dopamine fasting, so let's take a deep dive into rewiring our brains from bad habits.
You Cant Fast a Natural Chemical.
The neurotransmitter dopamine is a chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. It influences motivation, punishment and rewards. Stimulants such as sex, delicious food, digital addictions (porn, gambling, social media) and drug use can release dopamine in the brain.
Naturally, our body makes dopamine for modulating memory, behaviour, learning and cognition, sleep, dreaming and mood. You can't fast what your body produces naturally; however, we can rewire our brains which regulates the dopamine released.
So what is Dopamine Fasting?
Dopamine fasting is a method to help addictive behaviours and help people become aware of their impulses. Sepah suggested that instead of cutting out addictive behaviours but reduce the impulses. Depending on your lifestyle, 30 minutes to 1 hour a day or while taking a trip once a year. The concept is about setting boundaries instead of shaming them. .
Ways to set boundaries.
Whether it's dopamine fasting, unwinding or a mental break, we need tools to set boundaries and keep impulses at bay. Rewiring the brain to change habits takes work
Aim small and set goals; journalling can help you stay accountable
For digital dependency, set a timer on your phone or watch. Time can slip away while scrolling or watching a series.
Set up your environment for success, create a digital-free bedroom and tidy office and remove toxic relationships.
Set a regular bedtime and get at least 7-9 hours of sleep daily.
Make new healthy habits exciting.