Can I reset my reward system?

Dopamine Detox

We give up sweets, alcohol, cigarettes or food only at certain times for weeks and we call this fasting. Many people also take juice and meal diets on a regular basis. No question about it, fasting is trendy. However, fasting is not a new invention; people fasted several thousand years ago. However, what is left out of the fast can change. So now there is a new trend that comes straight from California. This trend is called dopamine detox. Here you can do without anything that somehow leads to overstimulation. But why should you do without nice things like cell phones, food and shopping? At some point the brain can no longer cope with the overstimulation. When dopamine is constantly being released in a world of abundance, we become dull and lose the joy of beautiful things. Dopamine detox can get us out of this dilemma.

Dopamine - when the brain rewards us with feelings of happiness

Dopamine is an important messenger substance in the brain. It is part of the brain's reward system. The messenger substance is released when we have major or minor successes in everyday life. Today there are many different ways to release dopamine and experience feelings of happiness. Drugs can stimulate the release of dopamine. But dopamine is also released when using the smartphone. For example, if you post a picture on Instagram and wait for likes or comments, you are waiting for the feelings of happiness triggered by dopamine. The result can be that you design your behavior to experience this dopamine kick more and more frequently. You become addicted to certain things or actions. This is where dopamine detox comes in. Consciously avoiding one dopamine kick after the other should make your brain more sensitive to these feelings of happiness again. The overstimulation of the brain is to be prevented by the conscious withdrawal of stimuli.

Dopamine Fasting - How Does It Work?

As with many other types of fasts, you have different options for dopamine detox. There are no strict rules for dopamine fasting. Basically, you decide for yourself how long you want to adhere to the guidelines. Depending on how addicted you feel and how much this restricts your life, short or long periods of dopamine fasts can be useful. For example, you have the following options:

  • You can set up one to four hours every day to do dopamine detox. You are guided by your working hours and your other obligations.
  • You can do without the daily dose of dopamine for one day every weekend. Alternatively, it is a good idea to spend time in nature and consciously switch off.
  • Once a quarter you can take a whole weekend to take a break and switch off your smartphone and the like. A weekend trip is ideal here, for example.
  • You can also go on a dopamine fast for a whole week a year and take your vacation during this time.

Dopamine Fast - What Should I Avoid?

If you do dopamine detox, you don't have to go without everything that you enjoy. Sometimes the dopamine fast is interpreted in such a way that one should avoid any stimuli. So sex, social contacts, music, sports and smartphones are completely put on hold. However, this is not necessarily how dopamine detox is intended. You should refrain from doing the things that you feel are becoming overstimulated. It can be different for everyone. Do you spend too much time on social media, surf the Internet all the time and just write WhatsApp messages? Then you should put the cell phone away for a while. Do you tend to overeat when you feel stressed or emotionally charged? Then try to do without it and balance your emotions with exercise or a walk in the forest. It's about observing yourself, uncovering unhealthy behaviors and counteracting them. The more you suppress the impulse to take a certain action and take countermeasures, the weaker the conditioning becomes. By consciously doing without, you create space for other things such as sport and friendships.


Is there anything in your life that you feel like you are addicted to? Do you spend too much time online or on social media? Do you take a look at your cell phone every two minutes in the hope of getting likes and messages? Then you are probably addicted to the dopamine kick and a dopamine detox could be good for you. In this day and age, when there are so many things in abundance, it is generally a good idea to practice giving up. And why? Because the obvious becomes much more valuable again. And let's be honest, after a juice regimen, the first bite of your favorite dish tastes particularly delicious.

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