Dr. Mike Dow's 3 Simple Steps to Overcome an Obsession

Dr. Mike Dow, host of TLC's "Freaky Eaters" and co-host of VH1's "Couples Therapy," shares three simple steps to beating an obsession. For more on Dr. Mike, visit DrMikeDow.com.
#1

First, determine if this obsession is a problem in your life. Ask yourself these 4 questions.

1. Could I go a day without this obsession?

2. Would my relationships, health, career, or finances improve if I were to engage in this obsession less?

3. Have I ever felt guilty about this obsession?

4. Have I felt annoyed or angry when other people suggested I need to get rid of this obsession?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your obsession may be getting in the way of you living your best life.

#2

Next, figure out which of the brain's 2 main feel-good chemicals this obsession is giving you.

Obsessions that help you to manage stress or feel peaceful and connected to others may indicate you need more serotonin.

You may be more likely to be an introvert or a sensation avoider and may be prone to anxiety. And your obsession may even have some obsessive-compulsive traits which are associated with low serotonin.

For example, biting your nails to deal with anxiety, hoarding more food than you would ever need, eating the exact same thing everyday, or fantasies about marrying a celebrity may indicate that you need more serotonin.

Obsessions that give you a sense of excitement, thrills, and adventure may indicate you need more dopamine.

You're more likely to be an extrovert, impulsive, and a sensation seeker. You may have trouble with attention and may have exhibited some ADHD symptoms at some time in your life.

Getting attention by wearing all pink, sexual fetishes that combine thrills with excitement like S&M, or eating extremely spicy food all release dopamine in the brain.

#3

Now that you know what feel-good chemical your brain needs more of, add healthy dopamine and serotonin booster activities for 28 days - the amount of time it takes to form a habit or ritual in the human brain.

"Diet Rehab" lists hundreds of these activities, but here are some you can do right now.

Serotonin booster activities are anything that help you to feel happy, peaceful, and connected. They include cuddling with your significant other or a pet, talking a long walk, meditation, knitting, joining a support group, listening to classical music, doing errands on foot, or looking into someone's eyes when you're talking to them.

Dopamine booster activities are anything that give you a sense of excitement, thrill, or reward. They include asking a special someone on a date, cooking something you've never made before, applying for a new job, getting a new haircut, attending a bootcamp-style fitness class, signing up for a cooking class, or hitting the playground with the kids.

Once you've started to engage in these healthy booster activities, your brain will be getting what it needs.

When this is true, you'll be able to decrease - or get rid of - unhealthy obsessions in your life.

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