Most of us have a bad habit we’d like to break, such as; the evening glass of wine, comfort food or a bit of retail therapy.
Perhaps you’ve tried unsuccessfully to cut down the behaviour or maybe you’ve just accepted it’s unbeatable. What you might be surprised to know is that all of these addictive type behaviours are linked to your dopamine levels.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by the brain, which acts on the reward and pleasure centres. When your dopamine levels are low you crave a hit, and as you’ve learnt that you can get that boost from buying a new outfit or eating a cake it becomes difficult to break the habit.
Why would your dopamine levels be low?
One reason can be that you aren’t getting fulfilment from your lifestyle. Perhaps you’re stuck in a job that you don’t enjoy, a relationship that’s gone cold or you are struggling to feel good about your body image?
This means that you aren’t living a life with enough reward in it and so you aren’t triggering the release of dopamine.
How do you break the cycle of craving an instant hit of dopamine, which reinforces your bad habits?
It’s less about battling the ‘addiction’ and more about ensuring you include more inspiring and rewarding actions and activities in your life. These are the activities which you feel in flow with and time flies by without you noticing. Such as; being creative, exercise, listening to music, reading, meditation or other hobbies.
If you don’t have much room for ‘me time’ in your life, then ensure you include some tasks in your work day you enjoy, alongside those that are more dull. Take just a few minutes out to focus on you, and plan things that will inspire and reward you.
As a first step, when you have a craving for your bad habit, just notice if that day you have done or had anything that felt rewarding to you.
If you see a link between your need for instant gratification and a lack of reward or motivation in your day, then go and boost your dopamine levels!
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