Three types of body resets to improve motivation, attention and concentration
Keeping our bodies and minds in optimal condition will always trump any productivity tool or technique.
We all know about the main three areas: sleep, exercise and diet. And most of us are doing ok in these regards, most of the time.
But even with good sleep, regular exercise and healthy diet we still have productivity ups and downs. These three are a big part of the picture but not all of it.
There are few things however that can sneak up on us over time as we build up tolerance. I’m talking specifically about Dopamine, Caffeine and Insulin.
Too much Dopamine will leave us unmotivated to do anything.
Overdoing Caffeine actually shortens our attention span and concentration.
Constant Insulin spikes cause chronic inflammation and brain fog.
Why do a Dopamine reset
Dopamine reset or Dopamine fasting is one of the biggest self improvement trends in 2019. And for good reason, it works.
The reason Dopamine fasting is becoming so popular is because right now we need it the most. Everyone that tries it is getting so much benefit because we’re all Dopamine addicted to some degree.
We all know we should be moderate with checking our phone, watching Youtube and Netflix or spending time on Reddit. Over time these activities take up more and more of our time and attention. It becomes a perpetual cycle where the more you use it, the more addictive you become to it.
These behaviors cause quick Dopamine hits hundreds of times per day.
In comparison we also get Dopamine increase when we go to the gym or for a run, but it’s much easier to watch a video instead of running for an hour.
The math is simple for our brain here, you can watch 5 minute clip and get even higher Dopamine release compared to the one hour workout.
Dopamine is the motivation hormone
In normal circumstances our body would release Dopamine and we would get motivated to do new things, explore new worlds and boldly go where no man has gone before.
In order to do anything that doesn’t provide instant gratification we need some motivation to get started. This is one of the purposes of Dopamine. This dosage however is a lot less than the one released when binging on new TV series or gaming or getting 1000 Instagram likes. We have to do this reset in order to reset our Dopamine receptors and enable them to start reacting to these natural dosages again.
Symptoms that you need it
You aren’t motivated to do any activity that has delayed gratification like: studying, working out, working on your side project, working at your job, clean up your house, room, workspace, can’t get up early in the morning, can’t go to bed early.
In other words if you’re feeling like a lazy slob, give Dopamine reset a try, you will thank me later.
You might be thinking that this is your natural state but it is not. You are supposed to feel capable of doing anything, and you will feel that after a good Dopamine reset.
How to do Dopamine reset
I have a full article on Dopamine fasting but there is nothing special to it. In order to reset your Dopamine receptors you can go with two protocols.
Hardcore Dopamine reset
Eliminate all Dopamine producing activities for just one day, but this includes almost everything. You are not allowed to look at any screens, not even for work. You won’t eat anything. Drink only water. You are only allowed to take walks, think and write.
- No socializing
- No eating or drinking except water
- No screens: phone, laptop, TV, tablet
- No reading books
- Chores at home: gardening, clean up your room, apartment, house etc.
- Take walks
- Write with pen and paper
- Drink water
- Take showers
This of course has to be done on a weekend or on an off day from work or school. It is going to be a long day but well worth it. This self reflection won’t happen in the easier second method. This is the only way to go deep and see what is troubling you. We all have something. It’s both Dopamine fasting and self therapy.
I first discovered this method here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vl-44jDYDJQ
Reasonable Dopamine reset
More reasonable version is to eliminate only the fun stuff but still function like a normal human being.
- Spicy, sweet or salty food
- Sugary, alcoholic or caffeinated drinks
- Using computer or phone for anything but work
- Working out
- Doing Chores
- Still minimize screen time
This method can be done without a problem for few days, but even one day will do wonders for you.
Insulin reset is very very rarely discussed except for people with certain medical conditions like diabetes or Insulin resistance. But there are great benefits to doing an Insulin reset. The reason for doing them is to get in order our Insulin sensitivity and start handling carbohydrates better.
Have you you ever tried intermittent fasting for 24, 48 or more hours and you felt like you could fly?
It was because your Insulin levels and blood sugar went back to normal and your inflammation stopped.
Having constant elevated levels of blood sugar and Insulin also causes brain fog. Over time you get used to this state and start confusing it with simply getting tired. You try to mitigate it with coffee, talking a walk or talking short naps in the middle of the day. Those are fine, but if you just do the Insulin reset you will notice none of this happens. This is the main benefit of Intermittent fasting even, you are doing small resets every day.
Symptoms you need an Insulin reset
Brain fog, feeling sluggish in the afternoon, getting tired after lunch.
How to do it
There are few ways to do it, I will order them from hardest to easiest.
- Eat nothing for few days, fasting is king
- Follow the keto diet for a week
- Follow the Slow carb diet from Tim Ferris.
Saved the most controversial for last. There are millions of articles about the benefits of caffeine: losing weight, improving focus, making you live longer, curing headaches, the list goes on.
The studies however show a different story. First of all it is not clear that any of the positive benefits are real because they could just be benefits to a person that is already impaired by the substance.
Did you know that caffeine causes Cortisol spikes, the stress hormone, and then a crash. I noticed this myself, whenever I drink a strong cup of coffee I get super focused for 1 to 2 hours and then I can’t do anything, I must take a walk or do some pushups otherwise I start feeling nervous.
Also caffeine causes vasoconstriction to blood vessels in our brain, this is one of the ways it helps people with migraine pain.
But for the rest of us, do you think it could be of any benefit whatsoever to have less blood flow in our brain?
I implore you to just try this for one day, or even just wait and have your first cup of coffee at noon. You will notice how much calmer you feel in the morning and how much clearer your mind is.
Btw one full week is needed to fully reset your body from the effects of caffeine.
- Feeling restless 2 or 3 hours after your cup of coffee
- Short attention span
- You tend to skip ahead when reading books or articles
- You are limited in your ability to concentrate deep into a subject, this is for researchers, programmers etc
How to do it
The obvious way is to stop drinking any coffee or caffeinated drinks for a week.
I know almost no one will do this so here are some ways to tapper it down, maybe even get by with just one cup per day.
Postpone the first cup
If it can fit your schedule just go to the gym first thing in the morning or take a walk or wake up later, or just occupy your mind so you don’t think about coffee first thing in the morning.
Actually this is much easier than you think, our Cortisol levels are naturally higher the first few hours after waking up, it’s what causes us to wake up from sleeping.
Combine with L-theanine
L-theanine works in synergy with Caffeine and extends its effects. This will help extend the benefits of your morning cup and you might not need another one for the whole day.
Replace it with electrolyte rich drink
The recipe is simple: combine warm water, one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, squeezed lemon juice and a pinch of himalayan salt.
I first heard about this drink from the Snake diet youtube channel. People there basically just drink this for days on end and fast the whole time. They don’t eat anything and they don’t drink any other liquids, just 2 liters or this drink per day.
The combination is actually quite good, it tastes great, blunts appetite and replaces coffee.
Any of these methods might seem extreme but keep in mind that it has to be this way in order to work against our constant daily consumption of these substances. Plus it only takes few days to do these, you’re not giving up anything for life.
Until next time,