woman sitting with her eyes closed thinking

What is a 'Dopamine Detox'?

And is it worth doing?

Mental health and wellbeing
By VoiceBox ·

Sahil

Sahil is an up-and-coming writer from India who is also a voracious reader and quite the music lover. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for the local cuisine, he loves to connect with people of similar interests. He aims to offer a fresh perspective through his work and inspires people to do the same. In his free time, Sahil likes catching up with his favorite TV shows and trying his hand at baking cakes and cookies. Stay tuned for more off the beaten track!

What is "Dopamine Detoxing"?

A dopamine detox refers to abstaining from all addictive sources of dopamine for a definite period of time. Many people, including myself, have noticed positive changes after finishing a dopamine detox, while others dismiss it, saying that this is just an internet fad that will die out after a few months. Frankly speaking, I wouldn’t pay heed to somebody’s opinion if they haven’t tried this detox by themselves. Dopamine fasting resets my brain when I feel overwhelmed in life, and it’s apparent that it has helped countless people apart from myself. 

Dr. Cameron Sepah pitched dopamine detoxing as a way to establish control over impulsive behaviors, and exercise better control over one’s mind. However, just like anything else, the compounding growth in the popularity of this trend has led to the dilution of the original spirit of this practice. Right off the bat, a dopamine detox doesn’t condone any of the following practices: 

  • Refraining from all enjoyable activities 
  • Decreasing social interaction with people
  • Demonising dopamine

Dopamine is a chemical that is vital for the healthy functioning of the human body. According to the creator himself, Dr. Cameron recommends trying a dopamine detox if you “find a particular behavior is causing you distress, impairment or addictiveness.” In other words, you should only attempt a dopamine detox if you feel some behaviors are actively disrupting your general well-being in life. 

At its core, a dopamine detox is simply refraining from addictive behaviors for a prolonged period of time to appreciate simpler things in life and refresh your brain from the overstimulation associated with addictive aspects of your life, such as social media, overeating, or socially accepted recreational drugs. Moreover, it’s much more rewarding to engage in enjoyable behaviors occasionally, instead of being a slave to them all the time. 

There are several benefits to a dopamine detox that I can easily list off the top of my head. Firstly, practicing self-restraint helps in exercising better discipline and encourages us to be stronger individuals mentally. In addition to this, an obvious and instant boost in productivity can also be observed when we make a conscious effort to purge ourselves of our distractions. Another thing I noticed after abstaining from short-term hits of dopamine was how increasingly aware I became of my surroundings and myself. It’s great to stop and smell the flowers once in a while.

After enjoying all these perks of a dopamine detox, I can’t help but implore my friends to try and see for themselves what they are missing out on. And to people who don’t buy the idea of a dopamine detox because it’s not yet backed up with studies, I would like to tell you something; science is not the last word in every argument- there is more to life than a set of rules. Objectively speaking, even science does not have all the answers to the universe. 

A dopamine detox might not work out the same way for you as it did for me, but it’s certainly worth a try. What do you have to lose?  

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