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The viral ‘low dopamine’ hack is getting popular with people who have ADHD and SAD
Whatever your likes, dislikes, and various ways you go about your day, one facet of our lifestyles can define it all: whether you are or aren’t a morning person.
And now, a new morning routine is popping off on TikTok that looks like it could be a pretty surprising gamechanger, sustainable for the average person and not just for the usual earlybirds or ‘that girl’. Enter: the low dopamine morning routine.
As most people already know, TikTok is the place of many a ‘day in the life of…’ vids and lifestyle hacks, and of course, *a lot* of wellness trends for unattainable aesthetics and goals. It makes it hard to know what’s actually realistic and worth your time.
Recently, TikTok users have been raving about some of these simple yet wise tips to embrace a ‘slower’ morning for a better day. So: what exactly is the new low dopamine morning routine?
Shelby Lenae, 24, has shared her own take on the morning routine with her 14.3K TikTok followers. She says she was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and has found her new lifestyle a total gamechanger. Maintaining low dopamine levels in the morning has been particularly popular with people with ADHD. Scientists have seen that levels of dopamine are different in people with ADHD than people without ADHD. Shelby explains the trend a bit further.
“Our brain constantly thrives on dopamine hits. We’re always looking for the next little bit of recognition or excitement. If you wake up and the first thing that you reach for is your phone, your brain becomes reliant on the dopamine hits that you receive through notifications, text messages [and] scrolling on TikTok,” Lenae says.
Plenty of studies back this up. People who check work emails outside of work hours reportedly have worse mental health, and looking at your phone straight after waking up is said to increase stress and reduce productivity.
So, the goal is to delay those dopamine highs for as long as possible and embrace having a slow morning – that is, whatever that personally means for you. TikTok user Meredith (@naptown_thrifts), who has tried and tested the morning routine, outlines exactly how to do that:
We’ve heard this tip many times before, and yet some of us still commit to scrolling down Instagram before we’ve stepped foot out of bed.
Meredith says: “If the first hit of dopamine that you get is from scrolling your brain is going to want to do that for the rest of the day. I feel like many of us have experienced the immobilisation that comes with scrolling in the morning.”
Many of you probably shuddered reading this one, but hear it out.
Meredith advises to wait 90 minutes before pouring your first cuppa of the day but admits it’s a tough transition. “If I drink it too early, I crash too early.” Makes total sense when explained like that. Or, if sitting with a steaming coffee is a comfort to you, try decaf for your first cup.
“When I wake up I’m feeding my dopamine receptors. My brain is going to freak out a little less over scrambled eggs than a donut.” Users in the comments recommended their favourite high protein foods including oatmeal, eggs and beans being “essentials”.
In part two, Meredith says if journaling, meditating or reading isn’t your thing, completely a task could spark a sense of achievement before your day has even begun. Putting a load of laundry on or emptying the dishwasher is still a low stress chore and as Meredith puts, “If my first hit of dopamine is ‘I completed a task’ my brain will want to keep that momentum going.”
Let’s keep in mind though: everyone is unique, so whether you’re a ‘morning person’ or not, our routines and rituals should be personalised to our individual needs. And with the seasons changing and the gloomy mornings looming, it’s a good idea to find ways to start your day off in a positive way and tackle those changing moods and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) symptoms. Anyway, these low-effort tips and tricks guide from TikTok users who have tested these out are worth a try.