Dopamine-Detox-Day

Alright, it’s the morning after and the first thing I’m doing is writing this post (okay, full dislosure: after having a cup of coffee and checking whatsapp, messenger and instagram…)

Yesterday I did a dopamine detox day as advertised in this video (that also featured in my previous post “Your drug of choice.” Since this is my blog, and I actually wrote the post, I figured it was only fair I’d give the whole thing a shot.

So what were the rules? For a whole day, from midnight to midnight:

I DID NOT

  • Use my phone (I left it off, told my ex-husband to call my mom in case of emergency)
  • Use my computer (also turned off)
  • Read
  • Eat fast food, or any addictive food (cheese, in my case)
  • Drink coffee
  • Listen to music/the radio
  • Do anything I consider ‘fun’ (puzzles, crafts, drawing,…)

I ALLOWED

  • Healthy food
  • Walks outside, alone, obviously
  • Useful activities (cleaning, cooking)
  • Writing in my journal
  • Meditating
  • Occasional short chats with my parents (less than 3 minutes – difficult to avoid since we share a home).

What I expected my day to look like:

Full of energy to tackle my household chores. Inspiring meditations. Peace and zen-like feelings all around. (Clearly, I should’ve watched the video again the night before to cross-check those expectations!)

What my day actually looked like:

I was in bed ’till 9 am, lingering as long as I could justify for myself. From the get-go, I felt both restless and low on energy. I got up and ate two slices of bread with butter for breakfast. I wanted to finish the cleaning I had started the day before, and had planned for today, but…

… oh the boredom! Oh the lack of motivation! I felt utterly bleh. I started slowly, with unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom, mopping the floors. It got done, but not as well as it normally would, and not nearly as fast. I missed the music I usually play, and the TED-talks or stand-up I listen to.

I made chili for lunch, ate it in silence, and did a writing meditation (I’ll write about writing meditations later on this blog). then napped for 1.5 hours. After the nap I went out for a two hour walk in the forest, which was, by far, the highlight of my day.

At night I had a large salad, with some more toasted bread. I spent the evening outlining this post in my notebook and meditating. And then went to bed at 9:20 pm, glad the day was over. I slept for about 10 hours.

I didn’t push myself too hard on doing stuff I don’t like, during the day. Staying away from fun was having enough of an impact already.

What I learned:

When you’re stuck with reality, and there’s no way to avoid it, you find the motivation to change it, or leave it.

  • I LOVE cheese. I missed it, truly. If I do want to go vegan someday (I’m currently vegetarian, but fully aware of the impact I still have on animals), I’ll have to find ways around this.
  • Apparently I also use sugar as a quick fix to increase my dopamine. I wasn’t really aware of this since I thought I didn’t consume much sugar. But it was a craving throughout the day.
  • What my go-to distractions are: coffee, conversation, work, information…
  • I have full dialogues with myself, in which I play two parts. They are interesting, inspirational and also completely silly and fun. I’m at least good company to myself. That’s a morality boost right there.
  • My body needed the rest, and I was happy to listen to it and give in to it.
  • I am really bothered by the state of my house. When you’re stuck with reality, and there’s no way to avoid it, you find the motivation to change it, or leave it. Steering clear of dopamine-inducing activities basically meant not being able to avoid any uncomfortable feelings. Usually I’d project my irritation with the state of my bathroom, kitchen or living room onto Pinterest , but now I couldn’t do that, and I felt more motivated than ever to save up so I can start renovating.

I planned this day specifically when I had no other responsibilities. My children were not home, it was a national holiday (so no work responsibilities) and thanks to Covid-19, I had zero social obligations.

Would I do it again? Probably, but with a little more leeway: perhaps allow reading non-fiction and studying, for example.

Would you try it?
Why (not)?
Any idea what your difficulties would be?

2 thoughts on “Dopamine-Detox-Day

  1. Extremely recognizable and very relevant. It turns out that a big part of the self-organized ‘finally getting my shit together’ boot camp I’m currently trying to stick to is avoiding just that and oh boy it’s not painting a pretty picture. The conclusion is rather appalling I’m afraid. Social media, reading, coffee, Netflix, spiritual talks and yes, surprisingly even sugar! (which I usually even do not have that big of an affinity for) I guess anything will do as far as our pleasure centre is concerned. I get surges of cravings which prevent me from continuing the work that needs to be done. Bleh.

    So high-performance planning requires getting rid of addictions which do not serve our well being and replacing them with habits that do. Reprogramming your brain to get dopamine from what’s actually good for you instead of all that shit we’re used to. Not easy. Loving yourself enough to get addicted to your well being I suppose 🙂

    It strikes me that even writing this reply is probably part of the problem… but anyway 🙂 The first step towards getting rid of an addiction is recognizing you’re an addict. There you go: I’m a recovering junky. Big time.

    Like

    1. Loving yourself enough to break your habits, but also being gentle with yourself. If I chastise myself too much, I start to rebel against myself. (I should be tested for schizophrenia!)

      Like

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