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ep.03: 6 Ways You Can Create Dopamine You Never Heard Of

Dopamine is not t just a feel-good neurotransmitter; dopamine is a key player in regulating our mood, motivation, and ability to focus. Unfortunately, for individuals with ADHD, dopamine regulation can be a tricky issue leading to symptoms like impulsivity and trouble focusing.

In this episode, we explore how lifestyle can play a major role in dopamine production. I discuss the concept of "laddering" and how this can help shift from negative to positive thoughts. Discover the surprising ways you can boost your dopamine levels, from food and exercise to regulating sleep and reducing stress.

Learn how applying these tools could be a game-changer for your ADHD journey!

Coming soon, I'm rolling out The ADHD Academy! Click here to learn more!

What you'll learn:

  • The role of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, in regulating mood, focus, and motivation

  • How people with ADHD have a different dopamine regulation process which leads to symptoms like impulsivity and lack of focus

  • Practical ways to boost dopamine levels, including diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, and environmental modifications

  • How the method of "laddering" can lead to increased serotonin and dopamine production, helping manage ADHD symptoms.

"Regular activity can stimulate dopamine release. I'm sure that you've noticed that you feel good even after a simple walk outdoors. If you aren't getting regular exercise now, just start with something simple and easy."

Useful links mentioned:

Listen to the Episode:

Click here to read the transcript:

Welcome to Learn to Thrive with ADHD. This is the podcast for adults with ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms. I'm your host, Coach Mande John. I'm here to make your life with ADHD easier. Let's get started.

Okay, today we are talking about dopamine. Now, why would you want to create dopamine? Dopamine is often talked about as our brain's feel-good neurotransmitter, but it's more than that. It regulates our mood, our focus, and our motivation. People with ADHD have different dopamine regulation than those without ADHD. This is why we have symptoms like impulsivity and trouble focusing. A trademark of ADHD is low levels of dopamine. So, this is an important episode as far as creating dopamine for yourself. What can we do about this? Did you know you can create dopamine? Let's talk about how. I think you'll be really surprised at the last one.

So, number one is food. Your diet can impact your dopamine levels. Foods rich in tyrosine and amino acid can help your brain make dopamine. Almonds, bananas, avocados, eggs, beans, fish, and chicken are all good options. Notice that these are all whole foods. Some people like to get their dopamine from junk foods. That's not a problem in small amounts, but if you overdo it, you'll need more and more of these foods in order to get the same effect. There's a net negative to that, right? You could gain weight, there could be tooth decay, you're going to get elevated levels of insulin and you're going to have blood sugar crashes and you're not going to feel good in the end.

Number two is getting moving. Exercise is good for our brain. Regular activity can stimulate dopamine release. I'm sure that you've noticed that you feel good even after a simple walk outdoors. If you aren't getting regular exercise now, just start with something simple and easy. Make it something you know you can do. No problem, even if it's just a walk for five minutes.

Number three is sleep. So many of my clients are losing sleep. Are you staying up too late? Are you trying to make up for it in the morning and then losing part of your day? You're not alone. I used to have such difficulty with sleep. I was diagnosed with insomnia and then that insomnia turned into sleep anxiety and then sleep just became a really negative thing. So, you can imagine I was not getting the sleep that I needed. With coaching, luckily, that's better now. We will have a whole episode on sleep in the future. Sleep is crucial for our brain function and our dopamine regulation.

Number four is to reduce stress. Chronic stress can disrupt dopamine signaling. Things you can do to reduce stress are things like yoga, mindfulness, meditation. Anything that reduces stress for you can help regulate your dopamine levels. What you have to be careful with in coaching, we call this buffering. This is anything that you might do that reduces stress in the moment but has a negative result in the end. What I mean by this is things like junk food, drugs, illicit drugs, alcohol. Might be scrolling on your phone, for example. These things might reduce your stress in the moment, but they're going to affect you negatively in different ways.

Number five is the environment. Sunlight can boost your mood and regulate your circadian rhythm, potentially helping you to increase your dopamine levels. Also, music. Listening to your favorite tunes can trigger a release of dopamine. Another tip I can give you is the ocean really makes me happy and really boosts my dopamine. I have recordings on my phone of the ocean and sometimes I'll just let that play and that's a really great way to get a boost of dopamine. There's also been studies that you can just look at a picture of somebody you love or a beautiful photo of nature, and that will boost your dopamine levels.

Number six is one I think you're going to be surprised about. Number six is your thoughts. When you think happy thoughts, your brain produces serotonin as well as dopamine. In previous episodes, I've mentioned how I work with my clients to improve their thinking. It's not positive thinking because if you've ever tried to jump from a negative thought to a positive thought, it's not easy to do or it doesn't stick. What we do is something called laddering, and we will go from that negative thought to something just a little bit better, to something just a little bit better. What's important about this exercise is you need to believe the thought that you're moving to. You can't just say something that sounds nice, because your brain is going to call you out on that and it's just going to jump right back to the negative thought. Laddering is a concept that will come up in future episodes and we can talk more about that.

Changing your thinking can be life-changing. When you're feeling positive more of the time, your dopamine levels are higher. This can be life-changing. If you're thinking positive more of the time, your dopamine levels are going to be higher. You're going to have the motivation that you need and everything that comes with dopamine. It's going to improve a lot of your ADHD symptoms. Make sure you apply these tools that you're learning. We can know about how to do something, but until we take that action, that's where it makes the difference. Take action, do the things on the list, improve those thoughts, start increasing that dopamine, you're going to feel better.

See you guys next week.

Thank you for your time, and especially for your attention today. If you haven't looked into the ADHD Academy, you'll want to do that. This is my membership, with binge-able courses, weekly life coaching, new courses every month, a community of like-minded people and more. Be sure to head over to

See you next week.

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