There are many brain chemicals involved in enhancing focus, the two primary ones are dopamine and adrenaline.
Adrenaline is helpful for focus needed quickly. The downside is its the kind of focus needed for fight or flight vs let’s get some work done.
☑️Adrenaline is increased by caffeine (e.g. coffee), which is common for people with ADHD.
☑️Intense exercise that ramps up the pulse rate increases adrenaline and some dopamine and endorphins as well.
☑️Fear and anger increase adrenaline. Are you familiar with waiting until the last minute to get something done? That’s because you’re relying upon the adrenaline caused by the fear of not getting it done.
☑️The risks of relying too much on adrenaline for focus is it reinforces the all or nothing approach to tasks. You’re either full throttle or not interested.
☑️A drop in adrenalin can feel like a crash that can lead you to seek more adrenalin (e.g. coffee) or to listen to a song or watch a movie clip that jacks up your heart rate to give you more adrenalin.
Imagine what this is doing to your heart and nervous system over time.
Dopamine provides the pleasurable experience of a job well done. The pleasure of the action, meaning action must be involved in the experience.
☑️ADHD stimulant meds increase dopamine and norepinephrine. This is one reason it’s a favorite of people who want a child to be able to sit still. The meds increase dopamine without the need for movement (in theory). The reality is the meds may help require less movement but no movement at all is a fantasy.
☑️How do you get more dopamine without meds? A healthy diet and daily exercise can be done alone or with others to increase accountability.
Also supplements including supplements may help boost dopamine levels, including probiotics, fish oil, vitamin D, magnesium, ginkgo and ginseng (please consult your MD or nutritionist on this because dose is very important.
☑️Other things that increase dopamine are laughter, activities that make you happy and talking with people you feel strongly connected to.
With this I ask you, which source of focus do you think is more conducive to a good night sleep?
A feeling of calm while you work?
Sustained productivity vs peak and crash?
The ability to experience a wider range of emotion and resilience?
Yep, dopamine. Go get some.