All posts by tjlab32

I’m Being Bullied

I’m being bullied by four men and one woman. I see them two or three times a week, whenever I play racquetball. I used to not have a care in the world when I walked into the club. I was on cloud nine and couldn’t wait to play my two friends. Now, I’m feeling apprehensive and wondering “What’s this mob going to do today?” They kick us off the court we’re playing in, “This is our court. We’ve played here for 27 years and this has always been our court. Move it.” Even though we reserved the court! We tried ignoring them but they just walked right onto the court and started playing! The woman is the worst of them all—really mean and intense. 160_F_49945142_70QUyFDXNFnP4JgMbORVBgxUOwUTMuqKShe’s so mean the pregnant woman who works there had to go to the hospital because her blood pressure hit the roof when this woman berated her.

Sunday morning they interrupted our play once again to tell us to move our things off the bench in the hallway. “Benches are for sitting, not things.” We didn’t like their approach but could understand they wanted to sit on the bench. We moved our things to a different bench. They never even sat on the bench! They played at the other end of the hall. Where’s the logic in that!

I’m so mad at myself. Why am I doing whatever they tell me to do! They’re just harassing us for the fun of it! They sit around and drink shots of Fireball and apparently have a long history of bullying people at the club. Last week I told one of the guys not to speak to us ever again. If they had a problem, I told him to go to the front desk. And yet, this Sunday that very same guy told me to move my things off the bench and I immediately did it!!!!! WHY AM I DOING WHATEVER THEY TELL ME TO DO?

We were going to enter a Round Robin tournament, but I just found out they play in it every week. I’ll tell you what, when you get hit with a racquet or a ball, it hurts!!!! Why would I put myself through that torture? Ah… yeah, we’ll just avoid that scene. I’m sad about it but I know they’ll play dirty. So why bother? I know, I know I’m being robbed—a part of my life is being taken from me. I’m being victimized and there’s nothing I can do. All I think about now is quitting. The owner is scared of them too.

I bet you’re wondering where I play racquetball? You want to know the name of the club? It’s called OCD.

This is day 5 of the 30 day challenge. Here’s the challenge: Call up OCD and tell it you’re coming and it ain’t going to be pretty.

If you know the moral of the story, please leave an anonymous comment!

Gratitude: The Great Sanitizer

160_F_71267059_mrswxnfs7P5YnpSTJ7iTBjih1iou0UkdI recently read a blog titled, “The Ten Worst Things to Say to Someone With Anxiety.” I disagreed with mostly everything. The list included: “Don’t tell someone with anxiety to be grateful.” I get that the last thing someone in pain wants to hear is, “Suck it up and count your blessings.” And honestly, I’d never say it like that! But, I strongly believe gratitude can wash away pain and anxiety. I feel strongly about this because I’ve witnessed the benefits of it in my own life. I even thank my refrigerator for keeping my food cold! I also see how gratitude helps so many people manage their emotional energy from negative to positive. There are plenty of studies to prove how much it helps to express gratitude.

Expressing gratitude is very powerful, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do when facing adversity. So maybe that’s why the person who wrote that blog says it’s the worst thing to tell someone with anxiety. Maybe the author of that blog is looking for an easier way out. Just because you don’t like something you hear, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If you know me then you know I’d love to ask the author, “You don’t express gratitude? How’s that working out for you?”

In the face of adversity you may not feel like expressing gratitude. You feel like crawling into a hole and never coming out. But, staying in that hole isn’t easy either. No matter what you do, it’s going to be hard. 160_F_106049106_kGUeuqhtWYLpfNtJIDnNjCggu3P0hYMIBut, if you make a plan to express gratitude even in the face of adversity, and you stick to that plan no matter how you feel, it actually will be easier than you think. Because the plan is already made. Less energy is required to follow a plan already made.

This is day 4 of a 30 day challenge. Here it is: Make a plan to express gratitude at least once a day, no matter how you feel. You can thank a person for the smallest little gesture. You can thank any object that has energy. Just do it no matter how you feel. (By the way, the author of that blog also hates to be told, “Just do it.”)
It might even help to sit down and make a schedule of who or what you’re going to appreciate each day for the month of April. Then stick to the plan! Have your phone remind you to “just do it.”

I love all the comments so keep them coming!

How Much Determination is Needed?

How do you start your day out with OCD? Does it begin with snooze alarms and blankets over the head? Getting out of bed can be a major chore. It’s pretty hard to rise with enthusiasm and appreciation when you know you’re going to have an OCD side show playing in your head most of the day.

Some people will say, “I want to pop out of bed but my body just won’t move. It’s like I have a heavy weight on me.” It’s when your mind wakes up before your body. But, your mind is awake enough. There’s a tiny moment—an opportunity to start the day differently.

Do you get up and hit the snooze alarm from the other side of the room, before crawling back into bed? It’s when your body wakes up before your mind. But your body is awake enough. There’s a tiny moment—an opportunity to start the day differently.

Think about the guy who’s told he’ll never walk again. And yet he does. Every day he gets out of bed it’s because he’s found enough elbow room—barely enough but enough. It’s because he’s determined. It’s not because he has gusto. It’s because he has grit.

Remember yesterday’s challenge? Let determination drive behavior not feelings. Feelings come and go. Determination isn’t a feeling. It’s a mindset. It’s a choice.

Here’s day 3 of the 30 day challenge: The next time you feel paralyzed. Unable to take the next right step. Whether it’s getting out of bed or going for a walk. Ask yourself, “I don’t have much get-up-and-go, but do I have enough?” That’s all the elbow room you need—barely enough.

Let us know if barely enough, is enough in the comments.
By the way, I’m keeping the posts up a little bit longer than I said I would because people are commenting on each post and I want everybody to have a chance to read all these amazing, encouraging, supportive comments!

You Don’t Have to Feel Determined to Be Determined

Determination is a mindset, not a feeling. You can’t base your actions on what you “feel” like doing. Base your actions on what you’re determined to do no matter what you’re feeling. You don’t have to feel determined, to be determined.

The way to be determined is to show a strong work ethic. Many people go to work every day not “feeling like it.” Despite their lack of desire to go to work, they do it anyway. That ability to go to work in the absence of any desire is called a strong work ethic.

pablo-33

It’s valuing effort over feelings.

An OCD loop many people don’t recognize they’re having is the Feeling Loop. “Why aren’t I feeling more…” “What does this feeling mean?” “I don’t feel like doing that.” “I’m not feeling afraid of this thought anymore. Does that mean I’m evil?” All of this monitoring of feelings is nothing more than an OCD loop. 

Remember, when you recognize an OCD loop your job is to shrug at it. Not feed it! 

Your feelings aren’t part of the solution, they’re part of the problem. You don’t have to feel (problem) determined to be (solution) determined. 

Today’s challenge is to let a mindset of determination drive your behavior no matter how you feel, what do you stand to lose/gain? If you value effort not feelings, what are the risks? What are the benefits?

This is Day 2 of the 30 day challenge! Do you accept?

Here’s How One OCD Survivor Handles the Storms

160_F_72328507_cXab12fEAK7SeZL1lyQYu6gK5oJuMnIpIf you have OCD, most likely you have experienced a storm or two (or ten). You know that OCD storms come in cycles and they change like the weather. Sometimes OCD is a small cloud, and sometimes it comes spinning into town like a tornado. I’ve had many OCD storms, several that knocked me off my feet, but I’ve learned that even when a storm knocks me down, I still have the choice to get back up, no matter how damaged or broken I feel.

When a storm blows through town you have two choices, lay there and wish it never happened to you, or get up dust off and deal with what is happening around you. Sometimes the clean up takes longer then we want it to. Often it feels like a waiting game, but if we don’t put in the time now, the next storm that comes through will hit even harder. We can’t stop a storm, just like we can’t stop OCD thoughts but we can choose how we react.

I am reminded of this choice everyday, what starts as a tiny cloud can easily take over the entire sky if I let it. There is so much in our lives both with OCD and without OCD that we can’t control, however I’ve learned we can control how we view our circumstances. How we view our circumstances gives us the power back. When we approach life with a grateful heart, we are more positive and kind to ourselves and others.

Maybe life with OCD doesn’t seem ideal. Maybe you’re stuck feeling like it’s not fair that you’re suffering from OCD. Maybe it seems like no one understands the hell you are in. OCD can make you feel like a victim of your own brain, but it doesn’t have to. As strange as it sounds I have found several reasons to be grateful for my OCD.surrender

-Having OCD has given me the opportunity to meet some of the strongest and most compassionate people on earth

-Having OCD has made me a more understanding, less judgmental person

-Having OCD has made me more grateful for the little moments

Can you think of anything you have gained from having OCD?

#keepfighting

~C.T.

 

Is This OCD or ME? How to Find Out in Less Than 10 Minutes

How can I tell if my bad thoughts are caused by OCD? This pounding unstoppable thought that something bad could happen—is that OCD or intuition? Could the bad thoughts be a reflection of who I am and OMG what I really want? These are questions I get asked a lot. 

I listen to my clients and hear the sound of confusion. Even with a diagnosis of OCD people don’t believe their bad thoughts are just a bizarre side effect of a strange neurological condition. There is 160_F_103659112_UGJStekEhKfNymvHV8oJsWCTdfwpMsmgno sound worse than confusion. I’ll take nails on a chalkboard any day over the sound of confusion. I want to scream THIS IS SO OUTRAGEOUS! THIS IS RIDICULOUS! It’s so abundantly clear to me that it’s OCD. Hello!!! Captain Obvious! But someone with OCD has never met Captain Obvious.

But there are ways to put the thoughts to the test and find out if they’re just neurons misfiring, creating false alarms and causing you to be hyper-aware. Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP) is the most effective way to do this. I won’t describe that therapy here—another post another time. Instead I want to share two ways to challenge your thoughts and name it OCD.

#1 Let’s Poll the Population

Let’s ask 50-100 people what they think and whatever the majority of them say—that’s how we determine if you’re having a reasonable thought or worry. If it’s not reasonable, we’re going with “It’s OCD.”

I’ve posted questions on Facebook to find out what the majority would worry about. 

These are just some examples of what I’ve asked my Facebook friends: Would you still love a significant other if his or her stomach wasn’t flat.(Yes) Since toilet paper doesn’t come with instructions, what is the average # of wipes after a bowel movement.(3) Recently I asked when is it appropriate to ask a question at work regarding an assignment. (I’ll share these answers in another post—it’s lengthy!) Do you wash your hands after touching a doorknob?(No) Do you knock three times on the ceiling to keep a loved one from harm?(No) Are you hyper vigilant about touching your dog?(No)

Once I’ve collected answers the results are shared with clients who are obsessing about these topics. The majority rules and proves reasonable behavior/worries. If the behavior or worry proves to be unreasonable we call it OCD and boss it back.

Sometimes we can’t poll the population and we just imagine what 100 people would say. In a gymnasium of 100 people how many of them would be worried about being gay? Not the majority!

#2 Is Your Brain Super Focused?
Another way to tell if it’s OCD is to ask how long you’ve been focused on one particular thought or worry. How long have you been trying to get certainty? The brain normally has a very short 160_F_20199276_5xlNinnPcFCmYZGypiv3a8TDKgu8zeEu-2attention span. The average brain can only focus intensely for about 5-10 minutes, and then it drifts.

So if you’re wondering if this thought or worry you’re having is OCD, ask yourself if the amount of time you’re focusing on it has increased or decreased. The brain does not naturally expand its capacity to focus! If you’re stuck on a thought and increasingly spending more and more time on it—you’re brain is not functioning normally and this is the very nature of OCD.

Even if you poll the population and discover you’re not behaving like the majority or if you discover your brain is spending an abnormal amount of time focusing on one specific thought—you’re probably still going to question, “Is this OCD or the real me?”

If you have OCD you have the doubting disease and there is no way to get certainty about why you’re having the thoughts you’re having. Your brain will try to keep pulling you into the abyss—a bottomless pit. You’ve got to be strong and say, “The majority of 100 people aren’t worrying about this so I’m not going to either. No matter how much doubt I have, I’m going to act like the majority. It could be risky but if other people aren’t thinking about this past 5 or 10 minutes, then neither am I.”

Leave a comment about your own success with these two tests. Have you tried either one?

Stuck in an OCD Loop? Here’s the #1 Way to Get Out of It

Being stuck in an OCD loop is torture. The thoughts just keep firing and it’s hard to believe they’re ever going to stop. They’re coming so fast it’s hard to be mindful enough to boss it back. There are many ways to deal with an OCD loop but this one seems most effective. It’s called apathy. Apathy is a lack of feeling, interest or concern.

160_F_64832482_JUTQeiwhijNvZTbVBSZijuM7Kfun1AXBI used to have this amazing lamp. It made me happy just to look
at it. But then one day a stranger showed up at my office. He came through the back door. Luckily I didn’t have a client at the time. He threatened me, “Give me $10 or I’m going to break that lamp into tiny pieces.” I thought maybe he was homeless. I gave him $10 and he left. He came back the next day. “Give me $20 or I’m going to break that lamp.” He didn’t seem like a violent person. I thought he was just desperate. I gave him $20. He came back the next day and demanded $50. I gave it to him. But, at this point I’m feeling really apprehensive. Is this ever going to stop? I realized I should have never given in to him the first time. The next day I saw him coming through my back door. I stopped him. I said, “hang on.” I grabbed the lamp and brought it out to the parking lot. I threw it on the pavement and most of it shattered. I told him to go ahead and break the rest of it. I went back into my office and I never saw him again.

You’ve probably guessed this didn’t really happen. It’s a good example of apathy right? It’s also a good example of how OCD operates. If you give in, OCD just wants more and more. But if 160_F_51985811_i7DZ59JpYuQaF8vGbYB41ipJJy1spl9Oyou shrug it knocks the wind right out of OCD. Of course the real moral of the story is “don’t give in the first time.” 

The #1 way to get out of an OCD loop is to get as close as you can to losing what OCD is telling you to desperately hold on to. What are you willing to let go of?

I knew someone who was afraid of losing his sanity. He kept Googling symptoms of psychosis. Then one day he finally decided enough was enough. He said, “I’d just as soon be crazy than live like this.” He went to a grocery store and purposely underpaid the cashier. When the cashier pointed out he owed more money, he said, “Oh, I’m sorry I’m not of sound mind. I’m crazy. I’m clearly too psychotic to be handling money right now.” And that ended his “what if I’m crazy” loop.  Of course he didn’t really lose his sanity. He played a mind game and tricked OCD into thinking his sanity wasn’t precious and sacred anymore. He shrugged and tricked OCD!

Whatever your fear is, think of a way to trick OCD into believing you don’t care. The rule is do no harm. If you’re afraid of getting AIDS you don’t actually expose yourself to blood that is known to be contaminated. But, you could touch a germy doorknob without washing your hands afterwards and say, “I’d rather take the same risk everybody else is taking than live like this.”

If OCD has you worried you might be gay, you’re not going to start a same sex relationship just to trick your OCD into thinking you don’t care. But you could say, “If I end up in a gay relationship I’ll probably be very unhappy. But, so be it. If anything like that happens I’ll just have to deal with it at the time it happens.” With this statement you’re tricking OCD. It no longer has any leverage. You’re not happy about this thing happening but if it does, you’ll deal with it. 

If you have unwanted, intrusive thoughts of harm, you don’t actually harm someone to trick OCD into thinking you don’t care. But, you could resist looking for signs of evil in every one of your thoughts and feelings. Instead say, “No one else analyzes their thoughts like this so I’m not going to. If I do the unthinkable it’ll be horrible. And there will be consequences for me. But I’m not paying any consequences until I’ve actually done the act! You’ve taken enough from me OCD. If I’m going to get better, I have to accept my anxiety and I’m going to tolerate this terrible feeling for as long as it takes.” 

The #1 way to get out of a loop is to find a way to shrug at OCD.160_F_65440434_ggnw7zgL8Rz1LBU1lYN1YVNMT5XdPUQw-2  Say, “If that happens it will be horrible but I will deal with it if it actually happens.” This is easier said than done. Because, you really think there is an actual risk. But, performing all your compulsions isn’t easy either. No matter what you do to deal with OCD, it’s going to be very hard. But you’re not afraid of doing something hard! People with OCD are the strongest people I’ve ever met.

Remember, you get good at whatever you practice.  Practice not giving in the first time. But, if you get tricked, practice tricking OCD back with: 160_F_88940492_amQ6XuT4sli6hmIAtS6rbyDwt8ENc9V3-2

You’ve got to find a way to let go–or you’ll be dragged. 

 

 

How to Build Your “Boss it Back” Toolbox in One Day: Tool #6 Most Recommended by OCD Experts

In the heat of the moment it’s so easy to forget everything you’ve ever learned about bossing back OCD. Here are 8 essential toolbox must-haves!

emptytoolbox

Tool#1

Make a collage of what you are fighting for. If you weren’t feeding OCD, what would you be doing? Get pictures from the Internet or magazines that reflect your values, hopes and dreams and make a collage for inspiration. In the heat of the moment, especially when anxiety is at its highest, refer to your collage. Remember what you are fighting for and resist feeding OCD!

Tool#2

Find an object that symbolizes the patience, energy, and time needed to master the ability to defy OCD. Defying OCD doesn’t happen overnight or in one week. A symbol that signifies kungfuiachievement through hard work and long practice is captured in a Chinese term: Kung Fu. Use something like a stone, piece of jewelry or decal to remind you that defying OCD is mental Kung Fu—it takes hard work and time.

Tool#3

Replace compulsions with healthy habits. Many people report a loss of identity and purpose when they stop filling up their time with feeding OCD. You can recreate personal satisfaction and personal meaning by creating healthy habits. Since checking off a habit each day and keeping a log of progress improves motivation consider using an app to keep you on track. Siri will gladly remind you about the healthy habits you are working on. If you want to get more in depth coaching, get an online or smartphone habit App. Some of the best apps include: Nozbe, LifeTick, Strides, Coach.Me, Habit List, irunurun, Goals on Track and Daily Goals. I also offer Healthy Habits private Facebook groups and personal recordings.

Tool #4

Create “Boss it Back” statements that address your cognitive errors.

“If I’m not 100% sure of safety, then there is absolutely 100% certainty of danger.” “I’d rather take the risk than live like this.”
“If I think bad thoughts, bad things will happen.” “If something bad happens, I will pay the consequences.”
“I’ve got to do everything perfectly.” “I’d rather be imperfect than live like this.”

Tool #5

Get some juggling balls or coloring books and practice focusing at least 5 minutes every day. This will help restructure your brain and activate other parts of your brain besides the amygdala. Meditating or focusing exercises will help you develop the ability to focus on what you choose to focus on. We can’t stop obsessions from happening, but can certainly learn how to simply notice these obsessions without analyzing them and focus rather, on the task at hand.

Tool #6

facefear

Write down a hierarchy of your fears and prepare to gradually climb that hierarchy from easiest to hardest. This is widely recognized by OCD exerts and researchers as the most effective way to boss OCD back. Click Here for a description of Exposure & Response Prevention and ideas for building your hierarchy. This self-help book will also help you build a hierarchy.

Tool #7

Celebrate! So that you always have an idea how to recognize your hard work, put a list of ways to celebrate your victories in your Toolbox. OCD hates it when you celebrate and will try to tell you not to do it after you win a battle. Strike a Superman pose, fire up some happy music, do a happy dance or do something nice for someone. Celebrate the fact that you just took a step in the right direction.

Tool #8

Identify an Accountability Partner and put the contact information in your Toolbox so that you always remember this is a tool. Include the reasons why you chose this person as your accountability partner. Share the contents of your Toolbox with your Accountability Partner. When you are struggling go to your Accountability Partner to remind you to use one or all of your tools. Don’t go to some random friend or family member who knows nothing about your Boss it Back Toolbox. They’ll most likely end up reassuring you and feeding your OCD.

There are many other tools for your toolbox but these are some of the top ways to Boss it Back. Get proactive and make your Boss it Back Toolbox today! Don’t waste time! OCD has robbed you of enough!

5 Mistakes People Make When Having Bad OCD Thoughts

dreamPeople with OCD aren’t the only ones thinking the worst thoughts at the most inappropriate times. Everybody gets weird scary bad thoughts. One time while petting my dog Bella, I thought, “She’s so muscular; she’d make a good stew.” I was shocked! But, I wasn’t appalled. I said, “Okay, that was weird.” Everybody gets weird thoughts but not everybody experiences shame or guilt from those thoughts. Here are five mistakes people with OCD make when they have weird scary bad thoughts:

Mistake #1 Keep It a Secret

freddykIf Freddy Krueger was living in your basement would you keep it a secret? No! You would get someone to help you outwit Freddy Krueger! Would you feel ashamed that Freddy Krueger picked your house to hide out in? No! That wouldn’t even cross your mind. You’ve got this bad dude living in your mind and it’s not your fault! The only time you shouldn’t tell someone (e.g., therapist, parent, best friend, and family member) is if you’re just trying to get reassurance that you’re a good person.

Mistake #2 Getting Reassurance ok

If you have OCD then you know you’re not supposed to seek reassurance. If you have a bad thought, you can’t ask someone to reassure you and say, “It’s just OCD. You are not your thoughts. You’d never do that.” That’s ok if you’re newly diagnosed but if you’ve been dealing with OCD for a while, you need something more than relabeling OCD. Too much relabeling ends up turning into reassurance. And reassurance feeds OCD. It’s like alcohol to an alcoholic—there’s never enough. junkie

But, you can get help to outwit OCD. In fact it’s great to get people to help you to boss it back: “Hey, I’m having a really bad thought about _______. I don’t want you to reassure me but can you remind me of something I have in my toolbox to help me boss it back?”

Mistake #3 Trying to Rationalize Why You’re Thinking What You’re Thinking

If you try to explain, excuse or justify your thoughts you’re spending way too much time on the thought. When I had the thought about chopping Bella up for stew, I didn’t try to figure out why I had that thought or what it meant. I shrugged and said, “Weird” and kept petting her belly. Get to the shrug as fast as possible. Say: “Whatever, So What, Who Cares.” As soon as you analyze the thought or associated feelings you’re inviting OCD to take you deeper into this obsession. OCD robs you of enough. Don’t go down the rabbit hole with OCD. It’s not worth it. If you’ve been down the rabbit hole you know it’s a very long horrible journey.

If you can’t shrug at the thought get help from someone who knows what’s in your “Boss it Back” toolbox. If you don’t have a “Boss it Back” toolbox be sure to read next week’s blog.

Mistake#4 Not Shrugging at the Thoughts

A shrug shows that you are committed to “let go or be dragged.” Shrugging is not avoiding. It’s not suppressing or hiding either. Shrugging is giving your brain a clear message that you don’t care about the thought or worry. Your brain’s alarm system (the amygdala) is misfiring and when you shrug, it stops firing. shrug

It’s not easy to shrug if you’re already caught up in evaluating the thought or feelings. Shrugging is your first line of defense. If it isn’t the anxiety worsens and you’re going to start trying to avoid your triggers.

Mistake#5 Avoiding Triggers

If you don’t face whatever it is that is triggering the bad thoughts then the thoughts will become intense and frequent, and the anxiety will take over. You’ve got to get as close as you can to your triggers. That’s why exposure and response prevention is very effective in treating OCD. The more you face your triggers the more desensitized you become.

Never put your life on hold because of bad thoughts. Keep doing everything you want to do or need to do, even if the thoughts follow you. Better yet, go on the offensive and invite OCD to bother you when you know you are going to be around a trigger.

If you find yourself stressed out about bad thoughts, identify which mistake you’re making and take corrective action. Get someone to help you remember what’s in your Boss it Back Toolbox. toolboxIf you don’t know what’s in your toolbox make sure you read next week’s blog.

If you want to comment or add to this list of mistakes please feel free to do so.

 

Guaranteed Motivation (Hint: It’ll Work for Anybody)

Have you noticed there are people busier than you who manage to do it all and more? They eat healthy, exercise, meditate, spend quality time with friends and family, keep commitments and get tasks done ahead of time. They seem fulfilled and laugh a lot. What’s their secret? How are they so motivated? Studies show that “go-getters” have high levels of dopamine. Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter that ignites motivation and focus. When a person is motivated that means dopamine is at work. “Go-getters” aren’t successful because they’re good at managing time. They’re successful because they’re good at managing their energy.

A person who doesn’t have a good balance of dopamine has trouble focusing and might turn to stimulants like Adderall. This over time depletes dopamine efficiency. People with low dopamine are more prone to addiction or self-destructive behaviors. The brain knows you’re dopamine levels are inefficient and offers bad suggestions on how to get it. That’s why many people chase dopamine through stressful situations like video-gaming, procrastination, and worrying all the time. That kind of stress sends the blood flow to the back of the brain, which triggers the amygdala and ignites the fight, flight or freeze response. Not a good idea for someone with OCD!

Here are 5 natural ways to improve your motivation, specifically through managing dopamine levels. (Be sure to come back and explore the links I’ve included.)

FOODS TO EAT

People with depleted levels of dopamine often end up with a prescription for an antidepressant. Rarely are they prescribed a specialized diet. If you look at a curriculum for medical school you will see no emphasis on culinary medicine. Doctors tell me they had less than 25 hours of nutrition education in medical school. No big deal as long as the patient is referred to a nutritional expert.

My favorite Kale delight!
My favorite Kale delight!

Ask a “go-getter” about his or her diet and they’ll tell you they avoid carbs  and sugar and eat plenty of almonds, apples, avocados, bananas, beets, blueberries, broccoli, cashews, cherries, eggs, wild-caught fish, kale, and pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Foods that are low glycemic or high in L-Tryosine convert to slow release dopamine. Slow release prevents the crash and burn you get from insulin spikes.

EXERCISE

Not only what you put in your body but how you use your body determines dopamine levels. “Go-getters” regularly exercise. It’s one of the best ways to increase your brain’s production of dopamine. If you’re walking with very little arm swing, chances are you are very low in dopamine. How much exercise is needed to pump dopamine? Here are some options:

  • Just 7 minutes a day of intense exercise found on this app.
  • 150 minutes weekly of moderate exercise (such as brisk walking with magnificent arm swings)
  • 75 minutes weekly of vigorous exercise (Such as on this video).

    Want to go for a "W" Charley?
    Want to go for a “W” Charley?

There’s good news, to get started even non-strenuous exercise can help increase dopamine levels—like walking your pups. But, don’t stay at this level for long!

PUSH and RELAX

When “go-getters” are “on the go” they are in stress response mode. Even if they are gladly on the go, they are in stress response. We can only be in one of two response systems: stress response or relaxation response. If someone is go-getting, they aren’t relaxing. They are in stress response. Not all stress is bad but the body can only self-repair in relaxation mode. “Go-getters” have a good balance of the two systems. They know when to unplug and replenish. Any activity that brings the body into a relaxed state will replenish dopamine. Even anticipating doing something relaxing, like listening to music, will start to pump dopamine. Taking a bubble bath, coloring, knitting, meditating—all of these activities will produce dopamine.  Prolonged TV watching is not recommended. That’s too much recovery!

Charley's Advice
Charley’s Advice

You need a balance of energy expenditure and energy recovery.  “Go-getters” push beyond normal limits followed by adequate recovery. Even napping is good as long as it’s no longer than 20-30 minutes.

KEEP YOUR WORD

“Go-getters” make commitments and keep them. They don’t waste energy thinking about following through. They just do it. There’s no other option. These attributes generate “I’m feeling good” dopamine which spreads motivation like wildfire. You will not benefit from dopamine if you don’t do what you said you’re going to do. You’ll feel like a loser, beat yourself up and whatever dopamine you have goes straight to the amygdala. If you commit to something stick to it. And the solution can’t be, “Then I just won’t commit to anything.” I’m not feeling the dopamine in that solution, are you?

ROUTINES

Develop specific routines and your energy will be better managed. Any part of your life where you find success, you’ll find a routine. Habits are effortless. When you are indecisive about doing something you are burning up your greatest resource: energy. Without habits you will be demotivated. For more on developing habits check out these blog posts.

Choose what you are going to do to start pumping more dopamine. Share your plan with the “Boss it Back” Community in the comment section.