Do you ever wonder why you enjoy smoking, even though you know it’s bad for you? That’s because when you smoke, nicotine is sent to your brain. It attaches to nicotine receptors and releases a chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel good. Once you’re done smoking, your dopamine levels drop and you may want another cigarette to give you that feeling again.
After you quit smoking, you may not feel like your best self. You may also miss the feeling you got when you smoked cigarettes. But not to worry! There are many non-smoking activities you can enjoy that may cause your brain to release dopamine, one of our mood-boosting brain chemicals. Read on for five simple and enjoyable ways to potentially boost your dopamine levels – without smoking a cigarette.
- Eat Your Proteins Eating protein-rich foods like chicken, peanuts and eggs may cause your tyrosine levels to increase. Tyrosine is a protein found in amino acids that aids in the production of dopamine. So put down the potato chips, and grab some nuts. Check out some awesome, easy recipes for protein-filled meals and snacks from Quitter’s Circle.
- Take a Second for Yourself Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness (a state of awareness) through some types of meditation may help you calm your body and relax your mind. These types of exercises could cause your dopamine levels to increase. Whether you’re joining a mindful yoga class with a friend or practicing some deep-breathing exercises on your own, embrace some relaxing “you” time. Try using those deep breathing exercises or a meditation app next time you have an urge to smoke, and feel the new power of your lungs!
- Get Up and GoPhysical activity is good for your health and can help keep your body in shape. But did you also know that being active can lower tension and stress, and reduce anxiety? There are many ways to be active: cycling, running, swimming, boxing, even dancing! So, keep your body moving to help feel like your best self – it may be as simple as taking your dog for a walk.
- Try Crafting Have you been thinking about picking up a new hobby? In one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling "very happy." It turns out that trying new creative activities makes you focus, which allows your dopamine levels to increase. Invest your newfound time not smoking in creativity – you just might find a new hobby or passion that makes you feel great!
- Turn Up the Volume Can’t help but sing along to your favorite song? What a great way to make you feel good! Listening to music releases dopamine in your brain. Pleasurable feelings from listening to music have been shown to increase when the music peaks at your favorite part, and moments before, when you anticipate the notes coming! Make a playlist filled with your favorite songs to listen in the car, at a party, or even the shower – and don’t be afraid to jam out the entire time!
Next time you don’t feel like your best self during your quit journey, try one of these activities for a boost. Then, let the rest of the Quitter’s Circle community know which activities help you feel your best. Be confident and proud of the strides you’ve made so far, and keep it up!