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Pro-tip: starting your morning right is much easier than you think.

| By Kit Kilroy | Wellness

TikTok’s Latest Wellness Trend is All About Managing Dopamine

Pro-tip: starting your morning right is much easier than you think.

To absolutely no one's surprise, there’s a new morning routine trend sweeping through TikTok. But unlike the majority of extremely-online wellness trends, this one actually entails some good advice.

Dubbed the ‘low-dopamine morning routine’ the concept centres around a key feel-good hormone, dopamine. It’s all about starting your day with a low-stress, low-stimulation morning to help you maintain clarity and focus all the way through dinnertime and beyond. But what exactly is this morning routine?

What is a ‘low dopamine morning’ routine and how does it work?

The ‘low dopamine morning’ is one of the latest morning routine trends to go viral on TikTok. While it’s been a popular lifestyle trend among social media users living with ADHD for some time now, it’s recently become popular in the broader social media wellness scene with users like @naptown_thrifts sharing their routines with thousands of followers.

Like many health and wellbeing trends on Instagram and TikTok, the ‘low dopamine morning’ trend has a grabby name, but the facts behind it are a little jumbled and oversimplified. For starters, low dopamine levels are not generally considered to be a good thing, and are linked with mental health disorders like depression. What’s more, dopamine is involved in a whole range of different brain functions. It’s incredibly complex, and simply trying to keep your dopamine levels low might not be good or even possible.

But grabby names aside, the ‘low dopamine morning’ trend actually gets across some very useful advice on how to start your mornings better. By breaking bad habits and removing unnecessary stressors from your morning routine, you can start enjoying more focused, productive and fulfilling days. Here’s how you can try it out...

Instead of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning, you could try slowly and mindfully observing your surroundings to wake up. If you’re a plant lover, admiring your gorgeous greenery could be a great place to start.

You could also start your day by journaling – either writing down your thoughts, plans for the day, dreams from the night before, or even consulting your daily planner. If journaling isn’t your thing, starting the day with exercise can also help you to avoid sticking your eyes to the screen.

If the habit is too hard to kick without help, try keeping your phone away from your bedside or even in another room while you sleep. That way, you’ll have to get up and get moving to switch off your alarm.

Hold off on your morning coffee

For many people, a hot cup of coffee feels like the only way you can bribe yourself out of your warm bed, but this morning routine suggests holding off on your morning coffee for at least an hour after you wake up.

Caffeine impacts the way your brain releases different essential hormones during your wake-up cycle, including dopamine and cortisol. Commonly known as the ‘stress hormone’, cortisol peaks in the early morning and is responsible for increasing your alertness and focus while you wake up. But having your cuppa while your cortisol levels are peaking may actually cause more cortisol to be produced.

Before you start worrying though, research on the effects of caffeine-induced cortisol is far from conclusive, and some studies show no impact at all on overall health. Regardless, holding off on the coffee first thing might be a good opportunity to start your day with healthier habits, like hydrating well or doing some light exercise for an energy hit.

One way to go about this is to set yourself some simple tasks to complete when you start your day. These could include making your bed properly when you get up, doing a spot of washing or even reading a chapter from whatever book you’re stuck into. The point of shifting your morning this way is that you begin to replace the distracting information overload of social media with more mindful activities.

This helps to bring your awareness into yourself and sets you up for a more focused day. Plus, it’s always a good feeling to get those slow daily care tasks out of the way early, rather than to have them nagging in the back of your mind all day.

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