In our culture, we have a couple things working against us:
* The continuous search for quick term pleasure and gratification, which is perpetuated and created by the neurotransmitter dopamine.
* The search and want to “feel good” is a direct result of the negativity and fear that is constantly blasted on all media fronts in our culture. We look for an escape in a world of fear and bad news, and this search results in the production of another chemical called CORTISOL.
All the stressors in our lives, especially in the INFORMATION AGE, can be brought upon us in an instant. Our smartphones give us immediate access to all the negative information or fear talk available in our world. And since 79% of us look at our phones in the first 15 minutes of the day, we are training our brains to look for negativity.
Heavy dopamine release results from us looking for multiple avenues of pleasure to counteract the bad news of the world. Media companies and social psychology have consistent ways to create fear, seek an escape, and create an addictive cycle.
* I hear bad news=FEAR AND CORTISOL
* I need to do something to make me feel good-PLEASURE SEEKING FOR DOPAMINE RELEASE
* I’m tired and need more stimulants to make me feel good!=OVERALL CORTISOL AND DOPAMINE DEPLETION
Remember, fear activates the amygdala centers of the brain, which is a threat-response area. Constantly stimulation of the amygdala creates a chronic circuitry of fear that overrides the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. The pre-frontal cortex allows you to make sound decisions and executive decisions that keep you calm and steady. If the amygdala is fed with fear constantly, it will grow... and eventually quiet down the pre-frontal cortex.
Chronic fear creates cortisol release from our adrenal glands. Cortisol has many functions; fat metabolism, sugar balance, and immune function. When these three areas of your life are imbalanced due to fluctuating cortisol levels, it can result in weight gain, diseases, and depression.
What can help help maintain healthy levels? Here are a few simple suggestions that we will further explain next week...too much to say in one post:)
1. Stop looking at your phone first thing in the morning. In fact, set specific times of your day to answer texts and emails. Turn off cortisol and dopamine pumps as much as possible throughout the day.
2. FOOD-research an inflammatory diet! Research shows the inflammatory diets-sugars, bad fats, and processed foods literally damage your dopamine pathways and reduce serotonin levels in your body. We NEED serotonin to feel happy.
3. Sleep-You and I both need rest to reduce high morning cortisol levels. Adequate sleep-8 hours, without electronic use late at night, keeps your cortisol low.
These steps help reduce cortisol and dopamine levels from surging. In essence, it works in reverse-it keeps you from having unneeded cravings and urges. The brain can rest and actually create circuits for more balanced, peaceful, and reflective thought. This builds your brain, instead of breaking it down.