Beat burnout with burnout coach Leanne Spencer

It’s all about the dopamine

If money makes the world go round, then it’s dopamine that draws it to the City. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps to control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres, and is also a precursor of adrenaline. It’s what drives a lot of us to repeat our behaviours, both good and bad. Dopamine is what we experience when we complete a large task.  It’s also the good feeling we get when someone shows interest in us romantically or when we get good news. Many of us feel that same hit of pleasure when we get a message on our mobile phones. Some even go to the extreme of repeatedly hitting the refresh button despite knowing that any new messages will be automatically delivered with an accompanying beep or buzzing sound. Believe it or not, there is even a phobia to describe the fear of losing or being without your mobile phone: nomophobia, short for ‘no mobile phone phobia’. Even if you think this isn’t you, you probably know someone who has nomophobia. And consider this; when did you last use a physical map, memorise a phone number or refer to a paper calendar?

Dopamine is highly addictive, so once we’ve felt a rush of dopamine, it’s in our nature to want to recreate that feeling again and again. This is the problem with the way the banking and corporate structure is currently set up; it’s configured to reward risk-taking for large capital gains, with little sense of responsibility or personal consequences. Simon Sinek, in his brilliant book Leaders Eat Last, describes the effects of dopamine on our brains:

‘As helpful as (dopamine) is, we can also form neural connections that do not help us survive – in fact, they can actually do the complete opposite. The behaviours we reinforce can actually do us harm. Cocaine, nicotine, alcohol and gambling all release dopamine. And the feelings can be intoxicating. The chemical effects notwithstanding, the addictions we have to these things (and lots of other things that feel good) are all basically dopamine addictions. The only variation is the behaviour that is reinforced that gives us the next hit of dopamine.’

Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, author of the Amazon bestselling book Rise and Shine: Recover from burnout and get back to your best and Founder of the Rise Method® and Bodyshot Performance Limited. Connect with me @riseshinemethod or Facebook.

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