Mornings are crucial for shaping an entrepreneur’s day. It’s important to start the day off right by observing certain rituals to become more successful and happier and the secret ingredient is dopamine.
Dopamine, a chemical released in the brain that makes you feel good, is a vital component in the quest for feel-good mornings and productive days. Having the right amount of dopamine is important both for your body and your brain. Moreover, it’s crucial to have an adequate baseline dopamine level to keep up daily motivation.
“It’s involved in reward, motivation, memory, attention, and even regulation of body movements. When dopamine is released in large amounts, it creates feelings of pleasure and reward, which motivate you to repeat a specific behavior.”10 Best Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally, Healthline
Our baseline dopamine can vary depending on genetics, various actions (e.g., exercise, sleep, habits, etc.), food and substances consumed, and a person’s thoughts.
Boost morning motivation and crush goals!
For a long time, I have been using my own algorithm to structure my days, even during pregnancy, balancing it all with a lot of meetings related to my Evolwe project, with the team, potential clients, and investors. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to understand the role that dopamine plays in regulating motivation and how to maintain sufficient levels of it to sustain your morning motivation and stay focused on achieving your goals.
Here’s a look at how I lean into my mornings to produce optimal levels of dopamine throughout the day.
Early to bed and early to rise.
I wake up at 4:30 am. My mornings are productive. But at the same time, I go to bed early before 10 p.m. I don’t use bright lights (and I don’t use my phone) from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.
“This is essential, as it has been shown to activate a brain region called the habenula and drastically reduce the amount of circulating dopamine in your system. If you must view light at these times, make it very dim (Ārepa).”
Meditate and detox.
For the first half hour, I meditate. This helps to clear my mind and set a positive tone for the day ahead. I practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation and deep breathing for 30 minutes, which have been shown to reduce stress and increase dopamine levels. Then I have a glass of warm water with lemon. This not only helps to hydrate my body but also aids in digestion and detoxification.
Next, I get moving by engaging in outdoor physical activity for half an hour on average. This can be anything from a brisk walk to a run or bike ride. Physical exercise has also been shown to increase dopamine levels and help maintain motivation. It’s important to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, at least 3-5 times a week.
Set intentions and prioritize the day.
After physical activity, I look through my plans for the day. This helps me to prioritize my tasks and set achievable goals for the day. Setting achievable goals can also help boost motivation, as the sense of accomplishment that comes with achieving those goals can release dopamine in the brain.
Enjoy self-care rituals.
I then take the time to enjoy a tea ceremony. This self-care ritual helps to set me up for the day and provides a moment of calm before diving into my work. I also make sure to watch the sunrise. Viewing early morning sunlight for 10-30 minutes daily has been shown to release dopamine and, if done consistently, can also increase levels of gene expression for certain dopamine receptors. To enhance this effect, taking a 1-3-minute cold shower as well, as cold as you can safely tolerate, is known to increase.
The first meal helps me to do the maximum amount of work. I usually eat a healthy and balanced breakfast that will give me the energy I need to tackle my tasks. Consuming foods high in tyrosine (red meat, nuts, or hard-fermented cheese) helps to maintain dopamine levels. Tyrosine is an amino acid that serves as a building block for dopamine, and a diet abundant in tyrosine can support the body’s natural dopamine production. However, it’s essential to consider the caloric content of these foods. Plant-based sources of tyrosine are also readily available.
Tackle tough tasks when you’re most productive.
From 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., I write research and work on my most difficult tasks. Maximum intellectual load. This is when I feel most productive and focused.
Spend time with those you love.
From 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. is family time. This is an important part of my day to reconnect with my loved ones and recharge my batteries. I spend quality time with my family and engage in activities we all enjoy.
After my morning routine, I feel energized, focused, and ready to take on the day. I believe that starting the day right sets the tone for the rest of the day and helps me to achieve my goals.
Dopamine is essential to feel-good days
Dopamine is an important chemical messenger in the brain that plays a critical role in regulating motivation. It’s important to note that everyone’s brain chemistry is different, and it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing low motivation or other symptoms that may be related to dopamine levels. With the right approach, you can manage dopamine levels to improve overall well-being.
Everyone’s morning routine may be different and what works for me may not work for everyone. But there are certain elements that can be incorporated into any routine to help increase motivation and productivity.
Aliya Grig is the founder of Evolwe AI startup, which focuses on building an empathetic AI technology, and The Cosmos City, an innovation hub for space tech startups. Aliya is a certified specialist in neuroscience, a Karman Space Foundation member, and a Battleverse Advisory Board member. In 2021, Aliya was listed as one of the Top 100 women entrepreneurs in AI. Aliya has 14 years of background launching tech companies, a successful exit from a space tech startup, and collaborations with Boeing, NASA, and Lexus. Her work experience includes companies from the Fortune 500 list, such as Mitsubishi and Airbus.
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