How to Avoid Bad Habits After a Dopamine Detox

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Dopamine Detox" by Thibaut Meurisse. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you on a journey of self-improvement? How do you avoid bad habits that could ruin your hard work?

In Dopamine Detox, Thibaut Meurisse says that dopamine can steal your focus away from the work that matters most. The solution is a dopamine detox that can last up to 30 days—but the work doesn’t stop there.

Here’s how to avoid bad habits that you broke after you’ve finished your detox.

After the Detox

For your detox to have a sustained impact on your life, you need to continue healthy habits after your detox ends

Muerrisse acknowledges that it can be easy to fall back into old habits. He offers the following strategies for those who want to know how to avoid bad habits:

Be kind to yourself. The world is designed for sensory overload, so know that you have an uphill battle ahead of you. (Shortform note: Atomic Habits author James Clear acknowledges that building habits can be hard, so he suggests tying your desired habits to your identity to make it easier. He explains that most people try to change their behavior by implementing goal-driven habits, but goal-driven habits don’t create long-term change because once you’ve met your goal, you stop performing the desired habit. Identity-driven habits, on the other hand, work because you’re inspired to behave like the person you want to be. You perform the habit because it’s who you are, making the habit an expression of your identity.)

Practice self-awareness so you can notice when you start to engage in old habits again. (Shortform note: In Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, Joe Dispenza writes that self-awareness through meditation is the first step to breaking old habits. He says your thoughts and beliefs shape your reality, and so by using meditation to become more conscious of your habitual thoughts and behaviors, you can interrupt those habits and create new, more positive ones that will result in self-transformation.)

Cultivate present-mindedness through activities like mindfulness, stretching, walking, rich conversation, or even being bored. (Shortform note: Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are, suggests focusing on your breath when trying to practice present-mindedness. He explains that your breath is an invaluable tool because it is always with you and provides you with something steady to draw your attention back to when your mind wanders.)

Sustained Productivity

The ultimate goal of the dopamine detox is to increase your productivity so you can meet your long-term goals.  

To sustain the benefits of the dopamine detox and increase your productivity, Meurisse argues that you must stay focused, be consistent, and prioritize the tasks that have the biggest impact on your long-term goals. One way to do this is by implementing a daily schedule. Every day, write down three to five tasks you want to complete. Number those tasks in order of importance. Start working on number one, only moving on to the next task when you’ve completed the first. He argues that a consistent daily schedule will help keep you on track and help you prioritize the most impactful tasks. 

(Shortform note: Chris Bailey, author of The Productivity Project, argues that increasing your productivity also requires effectively managing your energy. He suggests that in addition to staying focused, minimizing distractions, and focusing on your high-impact tasks, it’s crucial to do your most important work when you have the most energy for focus, and to leave plenty of time in your day for breaks to unwind, exercise, drink water, and eat nutritious food. As you’re planning your daily schedule, make sure to take into consideration your energy needs throughout the day.)

How to Avoid Bad Habits After a Dopamine Detox

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Here's what you'll find in our full Dopamine Detox summary:

  • Why society suffers from a constant state of sensory overload
  • Why dopamine is to blame for our inability to focus and accomplish goals
  • How to do a dopamine detox to regain the ability to focus

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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