As winter approaches, the lack of natural light and the cold can dampen the enthusiasm needed to jump out of bed in the morning.
It also happens that the motivation to undertake anything that involves leaving home is at its lowest.
But this lethargy can also come from elsewhere, and be a sign of a drop in dopamine levels in the brain.
The latter is the hormone that affects concentration, motivation and pleasure.
"A chemical messenger that helps us to take action, in short," summarizes Véronique Liesse, dietitian nutritionist.
It turns out that certain activities and certain reflexes adopted on a daily basis, make it possible to release dopamine in the brain and thus avoid depressive symptoms, affirms Dr. Anne-Cécile Petit, psychiatrist at Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris and researcher at the Pasteur Institute.
“Certain actions, beneficial for the brain, make it possible to promote connections between neurons, specifies the doctor.
By recreating these links between those producing dopamine and other neurons, the level of the hormone will be increased, thus promoting concentration, motivation and pleasure.
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In video, to have a healthy brain, here is the diet to follow
Eat foods high in tyrosine
To restore proper functioning in the "dopaminergic circuits", and therefore proper functioning of the brain, you must first look at your diet.
This must be rich in protein to benefit from a supply of tyrosine molecules, necessary for the brain to form dopamine.
The molecule is present in all kinds of proteins, says dietician Véronique Liesse, such as meat, eggs, fish and seafood, but also cheese and dairy products, legumes or even soy.
“For the transformation of tyrosine into dopamine to take place, you need a supply of vitamins B and C, and a supply of minerals such as zinc and iron, adds the specialist.
Without forgetting the omega 3 which fluidifies our cells.
Have daily physical activity
"Sport is one of the activities that best promotes the recovery of the neural networks involved in concentration and motivation," says Anne-Cécile Petit.
It is not a question of having an intense sports activity, but of practicing a physical activity every day, such as walking, for at least 30 minutes.
Read alsoWhat are the most addictive sports?
Expose yourself to sunlight
During the winter months when the days are short, exposure to natural light is rarer.
However, the latter stabilizes the mood and maintains a good level of dopamine.
"Having a stable morale allows us to feel more pleasure and to stay motivated in the tasks we want to accomplish," continues the doctor.
To feel the effects in autumn and winter, the specialist recommends exposing your hands and face to outside light, or trying light therapy devices.
Read alsoHow to boost your happiness hormones?
Get regular sleep
To avoid mood disorders and stabilize dopamine levels, it is better to have a regular and quality sleep pattern.
“When you don't sleep enough, it happens that you are less motivated the next day, notes Anne-Cécile Petit.
The researchers therefore assume that the lack of sleep is linked to a possible lack of neurotransmitters, in particular dopamine.
Good quality sleep includes regular bedtimes every day of the week, as well as sufficient sleep time per night (on average between 7 and 10 hours), indicates the psychiatrist.
Read alsoHere is the ideal duration of sleep to protect your brain from the age of 40
Who has never felt pleasure while devouring their favorite comfort food?
Who has never stamped with joy a few hours before a weekend start?
Any experience that gives pleasure stimulates dopamine.
In fact, it does not matter the nature of the experience, as long as it pleases the individual, insists Anne-Cécile Petit.
Eating a food that you love, having sex, going to an exhibition, listening to music or even seeing friends or family (if the links are good)...
A virtuous circle then sets in: pleasure activates the reward system and increases the production of dopaminergic neurons in the brain.
This gives rise to motivation and desire, and pushes us to ask for more of this pleasure.
(1) Anne-Cécile Petit is also a doctor in psychiatry and biology.