Dopamine fasting is the latest buzz word in health and wellness that caught the world’s fancy last year. And it is fast becoming a trending topic across the globe picking up a lot of followers along the way. What exactly does it mean?
Let’s understand what’s Dopamine
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is released when we do something good or pleasurable like eating delicious food, having sex, talking to loved ones or any other gratifying activity. That is why it is also known as the feel-good neurotransmitter. If dopamine is too low a person can become depressed and socially withdrawn. Too high levels of dopamine can result in manic or hyper behaviour.
Why Dopamine Fasting?
This was simple, but here’s the tricky part – dopamine is also linked to addiction. Which means that it has a role to play in prompting us to seek pleasurable behaviour again and again. That’s where addiction to food, sex, social media and drugs comes into the picture. Dopamine Fasting is believed to be a solution that can help break this pattern.
Since dopamine activates when we feel rewarded, dopamine fasting naturally means denying ourselves those rewards. The premise is that if we stop indulging in pleasurable behaviour, then it will give the brain some time to reset itself and forget the old patterns it has learnt over time.
Does it work?
The scientific community has not endorsed this method as they say that’s just not how dopamine works. And indeed, the workings of our brain are not that simple. If anything, we may end up making the situation worse.
More so because in Dopamine fasting people avoid things like eating foods they enjoy, meeting people, logging on to social media, watching movies and even physical intimacy. By all measure, it is a very extreme kind of fast. While it is a great idea to limit our social media use or be more regulated in how much food we eat, but at some point, this would start inching close to suppression of our natural urges and instincts. And suppressing behaviour or urges never did us any good.
So, it’s just a fad, not a fact.
What’s actually needed
Given the nature of our lives today we are constantly overstimulated and operating in extremes. Either we are overly charged up or we are plonked on the bed to *Netflix and chill*. When we have the energy, we push ourselves to the point of burnout, when we have the time we totally let go and vegetate.
And that’s the root cause of our modern-day problems. Dopamine fasting is yet another example of trying to counter one type of extreme with another type of extreme behaviour. It is unnecessary and unwholesome.
What’s needed in moderation, mindfulness and the ability to walk the middle path.
Now, what is moderation?
Is it sitting around meditating? Doing yin yoga instead of power yoga? Never getting angry? What is it?
Moderation is the middle point. That point if neither too much, nor too little. Which means…
…have rules, but not too many.
…eat out, but not too much.
…work out, but don’t overdo.
…take care of yourself, but also invest time with others.
…have agreeable friends, but also find some who disagree.
…rest and relax, but also make time to exercise and move.
It will help improve your self-awareness, it will teach you to slow down, it will impact your nervous system, it will create harmony in your mind and body. It will allow your body’s natural intelligence to come to the surface. Over a period of regular and consistent practice, it may even fix your dopamine. 🙂
“Let moderation be your guide” ~ Cicero