Fasting isn’t a new practice, especially in India. We have different cultures and festivals coupled with religious fasting, where people fast for a specific period to regain spiritual connection with god. Besides religious fasting, we must have heard about diet fasting known as ‘intermittent fasting’ for weight management. To add on now, we have trending dopamine fasting, which is linked to addictive behavior therapy.
Good nutrition is vital for a healthy and fit body. Similarly, proper behavior is important to mental health. Before diving into its nitty-gritty, let’s first learn what dopamine fasting is? What does it involve? Can someone abstain from body chemicals? How effective is it? Let’s learn in this article.
What Is Dopamine?
Our brain releases certain chemical messengers called Neurotransmitters to carry out specific functions, and any deviation in levels can have a significant impact on our health. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters that produce brain cells in learning, motivation, reward, motor control, memory, cognition, emotion, etc. It is also called a “feel good” or “happy” hormone, as it gives a feeling of pleasure associated with its reward function. Like other hormones, an increase or decrease in dopamine may lead to various disorders and diseases like schizophrenia (psychological disorder), Parkinson’s disease, depression, etc.
What Is Dopamine Fasting?
Dopamine fasting is created by Psychologist Dr. Cameron Sepah, which has become a trend in Silicon Valley (USA) in 2019 and then followed across the world. It is a cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) based strategy that involves fasting from compulsive engagement or stimulations (internal and external) related to addictive behavior for a certain period. And instead, one can be engaged in other activities like reading, bonding with friends, writing, etc.
Dr. Sepah has cleared that “the title should not be taken literally” and does not involve abstinence from all pleasurable things like socializing, exercising, etc. One should only focus on problematic behavior, causing negative health impacts. It can be done at any possible time. Apart from smartphone addictions is can be practice in other forms of addiction like emotional eating, adventure/thrill, gaming, drug, gambling, shopping, etc.
How Dopamine Is Related To Addictions?
Pleasurable things release dopamine that gives the feeling of happiness and enjoyment, but it also strengthens impulsive behavior as compensation to boredom, stress, and anxiety, leading to addiction.
For instance, when you are stimulated to an awaited reply, you frequently check mobile, which is an unconditioned response. In contrast, when you repeatedly check your mobile for no reason or on every single beep, it may lead to problematic behavior. It is believed that too much stimulation can deplete the store of dopamine, and it becomes difficult for people to enjoy a low level of dopamine.
What Are Expert Views?
Many people have misunderstood the concept and taken it too far to abstain from the things that are good for health like talking to friends, spending time with family, indulging in healthy hobbies, and making eye contact. And, the credit goes to misleading media.
The idea behind dopamine fasting is not new. Various religious fasts and mindfulness activities guide us to break from stimuli and find pleasure in doing simple things. Most religious fasts revolve around the purpose of fasting. Any changes while detox should be made within healthy limits and other measures should be considered to cope with addictions in the long term. Dopamine is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that cannot be abstained. Practicing this doesn’t actually lower dopamine levels. Although the “dopamine fasting” strategy is worth a shot to start with, reset your brain, and have a pleasurable environment.
Dopamine fasting provides a way to disconnect from the technology and practice mental peace in this unavoidable stress. This mental rejuvenation, as a result, provides a better and healthy lifestyle.