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I Tried a 24-Hour Dopamine Fast, See How It Changed My Life

What would happen if you got rid of your phone, television, and the internet for a day? I know the answer to this question thanks to my 24-hour dopamine fast! It really did change my life perspective, but it’s better to start my story from the beginning…

For as long as I can remember, television, video games, social media, and the internet have been my main ways of relaxing after long, hard days at work. But one day I met one of my good friends for dinner — and everything changed.

We were catching up and sharing recent news when he mentioned that he’d done a 24-hour dopamine fast a week ago and how it was one of the best decisions he ever made. But as he was talking about his experience, only one thought struck my mind: Is he mad? Going one day without a phone, TV, computer, the internet, and even music? Impossible! One week went by, and I still couldn’t think of anything but this dopamine fast experiment.

Change My Life
Change My Life

Was I really that addicted to all these modern distractions? Could I pass this challenge? And what was it all about? Naturally, I went on the internet to find all the answers I needed… Every time we eat a delicious hamburger, play our favorite video game, or scroll through Instagram posts, our brain gets an impressive amount of the hormone called dopamine. This hormone gives you the satisfying feeling of euphoria, making you feel happy and content.

So giving in to your desire to spend hours on YouTube or Tumblr can be good for you, right? Not so fast! When your brain receives the first dose of dopamine, it wants more and basically encourages you to repeat this activity over and over again. As a result, you get addicted to whatever it is that gives your brain dopamine — which makes it harder to carry on in the real world.

To improve your mental health and help your brain get a little break, specialists suggest doing a 24-hour dopamine fast at least once every 3 months. All you have to do is follow a couple of very strict rules:

• Rule #1: No electronics.

This means that your computer, PlayStation, television, or any other device should be turned off for a day. The only thing you can leave turned on is your phone, but don’t cheat!

No electronics
No electronics

Be sure to turn off all social media notifications and use your phone only for emergency situations. Don’t forget that using it for anything other than urgent calls completely erases all the progress you made during the day!

• Rule #2: No books, newspapers, or magazines.

No books, newspapers, or magazines
No books, newspapers, or magazines

Even though they can be educational, they’re still a big distraction for your brain.

• Rule #3: No internet.

Instead, try to live in the here and now.

• Rule #4: No music.

Focus on your thoughts as opposed to shutting them down.

• Rule #5: No junk food.

Your body deserves nice treatment too! I’m not gonna lie — all these rules seemed impossible for me to stick to. But I wanted to test my willpower and see what it would be like to have a day like that. So after another busy week, the challenge was finally accepted! That day, I woke up at 9 a.m. I decided to start off with a little workout.

27 Mar 2008, Garnerville, New York, USA — Assorted Junk Food — Image by ?Envision/Corbis

Nothing serious — just a couple of my favorite yoga poses to wake up my body and warm it up a little. After that, I had a quick shower and a cup of tea (since my favorite coffee is forbidden). The moment my morning ritual was over, I had no idea what to do! By that time, I was usually already in front of my TV or trying to pass another hard level in the video game I’m playing. But that day I had tons of time and not one good idea on how to spend it.

just a couple of my favorite yoga poses to wake up my body and warm it up a little
just a couple of my favorite yoga poses to wake up my body and warm it up a little

I decided to get some fresh air and clear my head. Maybe it’d help me come up with a good plan for the rest of my dopamine-free day! I went to the park nearby for a little walk, letting my thoughts and imagination run free. At first, all my thoughts were circling around the things I couldn’t have, like how cool it would be to have my headphones on right now or check my Twitter since I probably had loads of messages and retweets. But then I started to think about my life and work.

It’s worth mentioning that I had a hopeless project going on during that period. I knew what I wanted to do, but I had no idea how. As it turned out, all I needed to do to figure it all out was walk in the park for an hour! As I was heading home, I had a clear idea of how to make this project a reality.

This little victory inspired me so much that when I was done with all the work stuff, I started analyzing my life. Was I happy? What could I improve to make my life more productive and fun? Was I going in the right direction? I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down 2 long lists: things I’m grateful for and things I can’t stand about my daily life.

This practice opened my eyes to problems I never noticed before, simply because I was too busy distracting myself instead of looking inside my heart for answers. Once my list of things I hate was complete, I started to figure out what changes I needed to make to remove them from my life. To be honest, writing these lists made me feel relieved! For the first time in years, I had a clear vision of my future.

The next revelation for me was meditation. I often do simple breathing to calm my brain, but meditation wasn’t necessary that day — my mind was already calm and focused! If you meditate daily too, you know that during the first couple of minutes our mind bombards us with different thoughts and it can take a while to be still and silent.

Still and silent
Still and silent

But during a dopamine fast, this state came easily, and I was enjoying it to the fullest! The rest of my day went smoothly too. I felt like I was on an emotional vacation of some sort, resetting myself and gathering strength. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel the urge to turn on my TV or check my phone. I didn’t want to scare off this sudden feeling of total harmony.

My friend was absolutely right, and going further with this experiment really was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Now that my experiment is over and I’m using electronics, eating junk food, and reading books again, I can look back on all the lessons I’ve learned. On the day after my dopamine fast, I didn’t reach for the phone right away.

I enjoyed every minute of my morning routine and only then quickly checked my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Social media and other distractions had no influence over me anymore; now they’re a fun bonus and not the main thing my life revolves around. I started to value my time way more too.

After all, spending an hour on Facebook won’t teach me anything useful, but spending an hour brainstorming new work ideas can help me reach new heights! Moreover, the ideas and lists I wrote down during my dopamine fast blossomed into work achievements and personal happiness. I now start every day with a question: “How can I make my life even better?” Then I move forward as opposed to staying in one place.

Plus, I decided to repeat my dopamine fast every month to let a breath of fresh air into my life every now and then and clear my head for new ideas and experiences! If you wanna follow in my footsteps, here are a couple of tips to make your dopamine fast experience more effective:

• Make sure you have no obligations during your dopamine fast. It’ll be impossible not to use technology if you have work duties or even plan lunch with friends. Some dopamine fast practices even suggest you stop talking as one of the rules as this day should be about you and your mind.

To do list
To do list

• Make a plan for your dopamine fast day. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what to do on the spot. If you have problems with that, it’s better to plan everything out beforehand. Just be sure to stick to the rules!

• Finally, try to drink more water. This tip is essential for everyday life too, but on a dopamine fast it’s even more important. This way, you’ll clear not only your mind but your body as well!

Would you like to try a 24-hour dopamine fast? Tell me in the comment section below. Don’t forget to rate this post and share it with your friends.

Credit: Bright Side

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