The photo above was taken at my birthday party when I was just a wee one. I remember thinking, when I was opening my presents, that I wanted them to be food. What!? When I came across this photo, that memory was triggered, and I called my sister to see if she had any insight into this. She said, "Maybe it has to do with dopamine. Birthday parties usually have fun sugary treats. Sugar was probably one of your main ways of getting hits of dopamine and experiencing your reward system back then."
Dopamine is an important chemical messenger in the brain that has many functions. When dopamine is released in large amounts, it creates feelings of pleasure and reward, which motivates you to repeat a specific behavior. Dopamine levels are typically well regulated within the nervous system, but there are some things you can do to naturally increase levels.
And guess what? Three of them are standard Love Body practices: nourishment, movement and meditation. Making sure you get enough protein, consuming probiotics and eating velvet beans can all help with dopamine levels. One three month study found that a regular yoga practice significantly increased dopamine levels (1) and one study including eight experienced meditation teachers found a 64% increase in dopamine production after meditating for one hour, compared to when resting quietly (2). So instead of reaching for a cupcake or a joint to get a pleasure boost, try some salmon or get out your yoga mat.
We love you and we're here to support you in enjoying your body and your life, and that includes pleasure. See you next week with more Love Body Wisdom.
P.S. Check out the girl in the photo with the kool-aid mustache. Love it!