I did 50+ hours of Dopamine Detox

After watching Civil Being’s video on Dopamine Detox and finding it revolutionary, I decided to implement the same. So on 9th May 2020 my 50 hours of dopamine Detox started. I will be giving a detailed account as to what I did during the time when I abstained from my phone but before that we need to knows what exactly is Dopamine Detox. (PSA: I am not an authority on the facts stated below about the definition and benefits of dopamine Detox. These are sourced from the video above mentioned.)

Dopamine is a chemical released in our brain as a reward for work that gives pleasure. The amount of dopamine is directly proportional to our happiness, that is, the greater the dopamine release, the happier we feel. As a matter of fact, dopamine starts to release in anticipation of the rewarding work ahead. For example, playing games or watching an episode of your favorite series feels exciting and in anticipation of it, the brain starts releasing dopamine making us addicted to such pleasurable activities. This is addiction (mostly bad habits)

Dopamine release is based on need fulfillment, for example there is dopamine release when we drink water to quench our thirst etc., however, this is miniscule amount of release. The maximum dopamine release is during random award like gambling or knowing the suspense left by the cliff hanger. However, this is an unnatural production of dopamine.

Homeostasis is a bodily function in which our body adjusts to the environment, e.g. building our muscles through exercise, adapting to the heat in hotter climates etc., It is relevant in this context because if the body is continuously exposed to such high amounts of dopamine then the body adjusts to this level and it becomes the new normal, making us crave higher amounts each time. This makes other essential tasks ‘boring’ since it will not provide the body with the required dopamine. They are unable to enjoy simple joys

So, what can be done? The answer lies in Dopamine Detox. According to this regime, once a week one should stop doing things that release dopamine, gaming etc., this has to be continued despite the absolute boredom, one will face. During this time even simple activities will release dopamine. Gradually increase the number of days for dopamine detoxing and this will readjust the brain to normal levels of dopamine.

Now let us put this to test and see how it fared for me (note these are diary entries) –

  • 9th May 2020
    • One of the biggest challenges of today was to wake up without an alarm. These few months I have become a morning person but it’d be the first time to wake up without an alarm.
    • I woke up pretty late, unsurprisingly – at 06.45AM. However I was rather joyous to wake up to the natural melody of the birds instead of my phone’s beeping. Then I had a lazy morning and did my chores slowly but mindfully since I had no TED talk/ podcast to listen to. I was astonished to find how pleasing it was to work without having to cram information once in a while.
    • After my shower, we had an admission to attend to and later we had tea. After this I did some studying.
    • Whilst studying, I decided against time-blocking my studies, i.e. setting a timer with a study goal (because I am experimental like that). The result was disheartening though. It took me all noon to complete one mind map with a breakfast, laundry and lunch break in between. So, my advise here would be not to let go of this method and have some sort of clock nearby to focus and get more done.
    • At around 04.00 I drew a bit and then the heat got better of me, so I slept. Later, when it was cooler I went to water the plants and play with Chitraa.
    • We had tea, I cleaned the kitchen, did some planning and later on chatted with mother and my sister.
    • Later I put on a face mask, memorized a chapter of carriage law and noted a few doubts to be resolved later.
    • At 11.00 PM I drew again and then went to sleep.
  • 10th May 2020
    • Woke up at 06.30 AM, went to study at 07.30AM and had tea at 08.30. then I helped with breakfast and ate at 10.30AM, after which I rested for a bit, did some laundry.
    • I arranged (read plundered) my art supplies and arranged them till late noon with a break to practice water colors, which was something I have been meaning to do since a long time. And now that I had no webtoon to distract me, I got cracking on it.
    • Later I read a few art books and procrastinated till night and didn’t study anything. But I did enjoy the rain and plan my week.

Here you may notice that I had done my Dopamine Detox days ago but I am writing about it now so that I could give you the detailed benefit of my experience and they are as under –

  • Immediate benefits included mindfulness, feeling of awareness, consciousness and realizing actually how many things were happening around me. For example, till then I didn’t realize that there were so many different birds in our locality that produced harmony, or that the wind changed directions while blowing or that my plants are dying because of mealy bugs (okay that’s sad and plain negligent on my part)
  • Weekly benefits – I stopped reading manga as much as I used to. Obviously this didn’t happen overnight and If you follow me on instagram (please do) you would know that I had the most unproductive week following the Detox and also had a mini break down. It was only the last week that I had actually been consistently productive and I will credit this to the calendar blocking technique I learnt here along with the modified dopamine Detox I recommend below.

So, yes, the my verdict is that dopamine Detox by itself is no magic that will make you the most productive person on earth nevertheless it can definitely help you become one. Will I do it again? Absolutely. But not the way it has been proposed considering a lot of my learning has to be from online sources (and the current #workfromhome situation). So what I am doing now is Daily Dopamine Detox in which I have no-phone block of time ranging from 1 to 6 hours using Forest app. For example, I don’t like using phone as soon as I wake up so after switching off the alarm, I will block it out for 3 hours, similarly, throughout the day we can have no-phone block time that will train us to focus better and use time more efficiently. What are your thoughts on this?

Until next post, HAPPY HUSTLIN’HON

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