How to Give Your Brain the Stimulation It Needs

Welcome to an article about creating a dopamine menu! As an ADHD brain, you may find yourself spending hours scrolling through social media or engaging in quick dopamine sources that don’t actually satisfy your need for stimulation. The solution is to make different choices that give you the level of stimulation you need. However, making those choices can be challenging, especially when you’re already low on dopamine.

To make it easier, you can create a dopamine menu or “dopa-menu” that includes activities that excite you, quick dopamine bursts, and ways to make other activities more engaging. By separating the planning from the choosing, you’ll have more options available to you when you need them. In this article, we’ll go over the steps to create your own dopamine menu and how to prepare your ingredients and advertise your menu to yourself.

Key Takeaways

  • ADHD brains need a lot of stimulation, and quick dopamine sources often aren’t enough to satisfy that need.
  • Creating a dopamine menu can make it easier to make different choices that give you the level of stimulation you need.
  • To create a dopamine menu, design your menu, prepare your ingredients, and advertise your menu to yourself.

Understanding ADHD and Stimulation

ADHD brains require a lot of stimulation to function properly. This means that individuals with ADHD often engage in activities that provide quick and easy sources of dopamine, such as scrolling through social media or sending too many texts. However, these activities often fail to satisfy the need for stimulation, leaving individuals feeling bored and unfulfilled.

To address this issue, it is important to engage in activities that provide the necessary level of stimulation. This can be achieved by creating a Dopamenu, which is a list of activities that excite and engage you. To create a Dopamenu, you can start by thinking about activities that make you feel alive and excited, as well as those that tend to be your go-to activities when you are bored but do not provide much satisfaction.

Your Dopamenu can be divided into different categories, such as entrees (activities that excite you), desserts (go-to activities that do not provide much satisfaction), appetizers (quick dopamine bursts), and sides (activities that can be added to other activities to make them more engaging). You can also create a separate menu for specials, such as concerts or vacations.

Once you have created your Dopamenu, it is important to prepare your ingredients by setting up the necessary equipment and removing any barriers to engaging in these activities. You can also advertise your Dopamenu by making it visually appealing and posting it in places where you are likely to see it when you are bored.

By creating a Dopamenu, you can increase your options for engaging in activities that provide the necessary level of stimulation, which can help you to avoid boredom and improve your overall well-being.

The Problem with Quick Dopamine Sources

ADHD brains crave stimulation and often turn to quick dopamine sources like social media, texting, and mindless eating to satisfy that need. However, these sources are often not enough to fill the bucket and can lead to hours of scrolling through social media without actually enjoying it or hitting the pleasure button on the same activity so many times that it stops being fun.

The obvious solution is to do things that provide the level of stimulation needed and fill the bucket. However, making different choices requires figuring out what those choices are, weighing them, and figuring out the steps involved. This can be difficult when already low on dopamine, and the more satisfying dopamine choices usually take longer to set up, requiring the ability to tolerate the distress of being bored in the meantime.

One way to make it easier is to separate the planning from the choosing by creating a Dopamenu. This menu includes activities that excite and make you feel alive, go-to activities that don’t fill the bucket, things that give a quick dopamine burst without sucking you in, and things that can be added to other activities to make them more engaging.

The problem with quick dopamine sources is that they are often not enough to fill the bucket and can lead to overuse and decreased enjoyment. Creating a Dopamenu can provide more options for satisfying dopamine choices and make it easier to separate planning from choosing.

The Challenge of Making Different Choices

ADHD brains often seek stimulation, leading to activities like scrolling through social media, which may not be satisfying in the long run. To fill the bucket with dopamine, it is necessary to make different choices that provide the required level of stimulation. However, making these choices can be challenging as it involves figuring out what activities are stimulating, weighing them, and initiating them. It also requires tolerating the distress of being bored in the meantime, which is difficult when dopamine levels are already low.

To make it easier to make good dopamine choices, it is recommended to separate the planning from the choosing. Eric Tivers suggests creating a dopamine menu or DOPA-menu, which is a list of activities that excite you and make you feel alive. The menu can be split into categories like Entrees, Desserts, Appetizers, and Sides. Entrees are activities that provide the most stimulation, while Desserts are go-to activities that tend to overdo it on. Appetizers are activities that provide a quick dopamine burst without sucking you in, and Sides are activities that can make other activities more engaging.

Once the menu is designed, it is necessary to prep your ingredients by preparing everything that can reasonably be done ahead of time. Creating barriers to go-to activities that you would like to go to a little less often is also a good idea. Finally, it is recommended to advertise your menu by making it pretty, funny, and posting it where you can see it when you are bored.

By creating a dopamine menu, you will have more options available to you when you need them. However, it is important to note that familiarity is also important, especially during a crisis. If nothing seems enjoyable, it is recommended to call your doctor as it may be depression.

The Concept of a Dopamine Menu

ADHD brains need a lot of stimulation, and most of the time, the quick and easy sources of dopamine we tend to turn to often aren’t enough to satisfy that need. To address this issue, we can create a dopamine menu or a dopa-menu for things that excite us. The idea is to separate the planning from the choosing, making it easier for us to make good dopamine choices when we’re already low on dopamine.

To create a dopa-menu, we can follow these four steps:

  1. Design your menu: Think about things that you’ve done that made you feel really excited or alive, and on the flip side, what your go-to’s are when you’re bored that don’t actually make you feel great. You can design your menu however you want, but it’s recommended to split it up into Entrees, Desserts, Appetizers, and Sides. You can also create a separate menu for “specials” – things like concerts that you might be able to go to occasionally but can’t do very often.
  2. Prep your ingredients: Once you have a bunch of options on your menu, omit any options that aren’t realistic right now. Then, prepare everything you reasonably can ahead of time. For example, set up a table for painting your minis, put your guitar on a stand by the couch, or switch your TV to a YouTube workout video.
  3. Advertise your menu: Make your menu pretty, funny, and enticing. Post it where you’ll be able to see it when you’re bored, like on your fridge, your lock screen, or your coffee table. You can also use websites with random choice generators if you’re not sure what to choose.
  4. Order from your menu: When you’re feeling bored or low on dopamine, grab your dopa-menu and choose something from it. By preparing a menu in advance, you’ll have more options available to you when you need them.

Remember, this isn’t to say that suddenly we’re going to make all different choices, or even that we should. There’s something to be said for familiarity, especially when we’re going through a crisis. But by creating a dopa-menu, we can make it easier to make good dopamine choices and fill our buckets with the level of stimulation we need.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

Planning ahead is crucial for ADHD brains to make better choices and take control of their lives. By creating a Dopamenu, you can design a list of activities that excite you and make you feel alive. Separating the planning from the choosing can make it easier to make good dopamine choices when you’re already low on dopamine. Here are the four steps to create a Dopamenu:

  1. Design your menu: Think about things that excite you and make you feel alive, and on the flip side, what your go-to’s are when you’re bored that don’t actually make you feel great. You can design your menu however you want, but it’s important to split it up into Entrees, Desserts, Appetizers, and Sides, and Specials.
  2. Prep your ingredients: After creating your menu, prepare everything you reasonably can ahead of time. Set up your space for the activities you want to do, put your equipment in a visible place, and create barriers to your go-to’s that you would like to avoid.
  3. Advertise your menu: Make your menu pretty, funny, and post it where you’ll be able to see it when you’re bored. You can also use websites with random choice generators if you’re not sure what to choose.
  4. Order from your menu: When you’re bored, grab your Dopamenu and order from it. Choose something you’d actually “order” and something you can actually “make.” By preparing a menu in advance, you’ll have more options available to you when you need them.

In conclusion, planning ahead and creating a Dopamenu can help you make better choices, take control of your life, and feel more alive. Remember, it’s important to separate the planning from the choosing, and to make sure everything on your menu is something you’d actually “order” and something you can actually “make.”

Creating a Dopamine Menu

As an ADHD brain, you need a lot of stimulation to function, but the quick and easy sources of dopamine we tend to turn to often aren’t enough to actually satisfy that need. Eric Tivers recommends creating a Dopamine menu or Dopamenu for things that excite us. This menu should be designed based on things that you’ve done that made you feel really excited, or alive, and on the flip side, what your go-to’s are when you’re bored that don’t actually make you feel great.

Here are the four steps to create a Dopamine Menu:

  1. Design your menu: You can design your menu however you want, but it’s recommended to split it up into Entrees, Desserts, Appetizers, and Sides. Entrees are the activities that excite you and make you feel alive, like playing your guitar, taking your dog to the park, going to the gym or yoga, spending quality time with someone, game nights with friends, making a TikTok video, and more. Desserts are things that are your go-to’s that you tend to overdo it on, like scrolling through social media, texting, spending time with someone who’s not really present, ruminating, mindless eating, watching TV, playing video games by yourself, and more. Appetizers are things that can give you a quick dopamine burst without sucking you in, like a minute of jumping jacks, a cup of coffee, or setting a timer for 5 minutes on social media. Sides are things you can add to other activities to make them more engaging, like adding a music playlist, using a fidget, or making it more challenging. You can also create a separate menu for “specials” like concerts that you might be able to go to occasionally but can’t do very often.
  2. Prep your ingredients: After creating your menu, prepare everything you reasonably can ahead of time. Set up a table for painting, put your guitar on a stand by the couch, switch to a YouTube workout video when you’re done watching TV at night, and add to your video game budget so that you can try new games and occasionally buy one for a friend. Create barriers to some of your go-to’s that you would like to not go to as often, like putting your phone charger where you can’t reach it from the couch, deleting Facebook from your phone, and giving your kitchen a cover charge.
  3. Advertise your menu: Post your menu where you’ll be able to see it when you’re bored. Make it pretty, funny, or enticing to get you to order the thing. Post it on your coffee table, in your studio, on your fridge, and make a mini version for the lock screen of your phone. If you’re not sure what to choose, there are even websites with random choice generators. Just put in all your options, and it will pick one for you.
  4. Omit unrealistic options: Once you have a bunch of options on your menu, omit any options that aren’t realistic right now. Remove any options that are not in season, too expensive to make, or nobody’s ordering. The idea is, what’s on your menu should be something you’d actually “order” and something you can actually “make.”

By preparing a menu in advance, you’ll have more options available to you when you need them. This isn’t to say that suddenly we’re going to make all different choices, or even that we should. There’s something to be said for familiarity, especially when we’re going through a crisis. But by separating the planning from the choosing, you can make it easier to make good dopamine choices when you’re already low on dopamine.

Designing Your Menu

To create your Dopamenu, start by thinking about activities that make you feel excited and alive. These will be your “Entrees.” On the other hand, think about your go-to activities when you’re bored that don’t actually make you feel great. These will be your “Desserts.” You can also add “Appetizers,” which are activities that can give you a quick dopamine burst without sucking you in, and “Sides,” which are things you can add to other activities to make them more engaging.

Once you have a bunch of options on your menu, omit any options that aren’t realistic right now. After creating your menu, prepare your ingredients by setting up your space or putting things in easy reach. Create barriers for activities you want to do less often and advertise your menu by making it pretty, funny, and posting it where you’ll see it when you’re bored.

Remember, the idea is to have options available to you when you need them. By preparing a menu in advance, you’ll be able to make better choices that give you the stimulation you need.

Preparing Your Ingredients

To create your Dopamenu, first, DESIGN your menu. Think about activities that excite you and make you feel alive, and on the flip side, what your go-to’s are when you’re bored that don’t actually make you feel great. Split your menu into Entrees, Desserts, Appetizers, and Sides, and create a separate menu for “specials.”

Once you have a bunch of options on your menu, omit any options that aren’t realistic right now. What’s on your menu should be something you’d actually “order” and something you can actually “make.”

After creating your menu, PREP your ingredients! Decrease the number of steps involved for the things you want to encourage yourself to do. For any go-to’s you’d like to go to a little less often, you can do the opposite and increase the number of steps.

Finally, ADVERTISE your menu! Make it pretty, funny, or enticing, and post it where you’ll be able to see it when you’re bored. You can even create a mini version for the lock screen of your phone.

By preparing a menu in advance, you’ll have more options available to you when you need them.

Advertising Your Menu

Once you have designed your Dopamenu, it’s time to advertise it! Just like how restaurants entice their customers with appealing descriptions, you can make your Dopamenu pretty, funny, and post it where you can see it when you’re bored. You can even create a mini version for the lock screen of your phone.

To make it more enticing, you can omit any options that aren’t realistic right now and advertise only the ones that you can actually make. You can also make it more appealing by adding descriptions or images.

If you’re not sure what to choose, there are websites with random choice generators. Just put in all your options, and it will pick one for you.

By advertising your Dopamenu, you’ll have more options available to you when you need them. It’s a great way to encourage yourself to make better choices and fill your bucket with the level of stimulation you need.

Dealing with Lack of Enjoyment

When you have ADHD, you need a lot of stimulation, and sometimes, quick and easy sources of dopamine just don’t cut it. You may find yourself spending hours scrolling through social media without actually enjoying it, or hitting the pleasure button on the same activity so many times that it stops being fun. To address this problem, you need to find activities that give you the level of stimulation you need and fill your “bucket.” However, making different choices can be challenging because it requires figuring out what those choices are, weighing them, and figuring out the steps involved. Additionally, more satisfying dopamine choices usually take longer to set up, which means being able to tolerate the distress of being bored in the meantime.

To make it easier to find activities that give you the stimulation you need, you can separate the planning from the choosing. You can create a Dopamenu, a dopamine menu, for things that excite you. To do this, think about activities that make you feel excited or alive and make a list of them. You can design your menu however you want, but it’s essential to split it into Entrees, Desserts, Appetizers, and Sides. Entrees are the activities that excite you and make you feel alive, like playing your guitar, going to the gym, or spending quality time with someone. Desserts are activities that are your go-to’s, but they don’t fill your bucket, like scrolling through social media or mindless eating. Appetizers are things that can give you a quick dopamine burst without sucking you in, like a minute of jumping jacks or a cup of coffee. Sides are things you can add to other activities to make them more engaging, like adding a music playlist or using a fidget.

Once you have a bunch of options on your menu, omit any options that aren’t realistic right now. After creating your menu, prepare your ingredients by setting up your environment to make it easier to get started. For example, if you want to paint miniatures, set up a table for it. If you want to play your guitar, put it on a stand by the couch. Also, create a few barriers to some of your go-to’s that you would like to go to less often. For example, put your phone charger where you can’t reach it from the couch, delete social media apps from your phone, or give your kitchen a cover charge.

Finally, advertise your menu by making it pretty or funny and posting it where you’ll be able to see it when you’re bored. You can even make a mini version for the lock screen of your phone. By preparing a menu in advance, you’ll have more options available to you when you need them. If nothing seems fun, call your doctor, as it may be a sign of depression.

Remember, making different choices can be challenging, but by creating a Dopamenu, preparing your environment, and advertising your menu, you can make it easier to find activities that give you the stimulation you need and fill your “bucket.”

Conclusion and Comments

Creating a Dopamenu can be a great way to find activities that excite you and make you feel alive. By designing your menu, prepping your ingredients, and advertising your menu, you can make it easier to choose activities that give you the level of stimulation you need. It’s important to be aware of your go-to’s that tend to overdo it on and things that can give you a quick dopamine burst without sucking you in. Once you have a bunch of options on your menu, omit any options that aren’t realistic right now and make sure your menu is something you’d actually “order” and something you can actually “make.” By preparing a menu in advance, you’ll have more options available to you when you need them. Remember, if nothing feels enjoyable, it’s important to call your doctor as it may be a sign of depression.