What is Nudge Theory?

Dopamine Detox: How to take back control of your life

Dopamine: The Happy Hormone

Dopamine, C8H11NO2, is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the brain's reward system1. Dopamine has many functions in the brain, including that of memory, muscle coordination and more importantly our reward system.

We experience feelings of pleasure, motivation and satisfaction when our brains produce dopamine.

Although dopamine is crucial to our brain health,  excessive levels of dopamine can lead tobursts of impulsivity and addictive be haviours. When we over engage inactivities, such as mindlessly scrolling social media, gaming or even gambling, our reward systems are being stimulated on repeat –the desire to keep that dopamine high becomes an intrinsic motivation to continue negative and potentially harmful behaviours2.

This is where dopamine detox comes in – we remove the trigger, and take back control of our life.

What is Dopamine Detox?

Dopamine detox3, is a conscious and intentional restrictive intervention, developed to tackle behavioural addictions. It involves taking a break from activities which spike dopamine levels in the brain, such as social media, video games, and fast food.

Dopamine detox, is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)4, using a technique called stimulus control5. By distancing ourselves from the stimulus or triggers, i.e. the source of our addictive behaviours, and developing coping mechanisms in scenarios in which we are exposed to these triggers.

When done correctly with guidance, dopamine detox helps us relearn how to enjoy pleasurable activities with intention, in a moderate and balanced way.

Digital Dopamine Detox: Cutting down on your screen time

Most of us are somewhat addicted to our smartphones. We use them to work, study, track our fitness journey, look up directions, Google orWikipedia, and more importantly to stay connected. Our phones, and on it the social media apps, can be constant gateways for us to hit that dopamine high. (They are designed to do so!)

Your brain might thank you for trying out a digital dopamine or social media detox!

During a digital dopamine detox, our aim is to learn to construct healthier digital use and smartphone habits. A quantifiable result isto track the change in our smartphone screen time.

For those who don’t have the luxury to expend time on doing yoga everyday, we recommend trying out Waitasec. Waitasec is our behavioural science backed smartphone application, which nudges you to spend time away from addictive social media applications.

How does Digital Dopamine Detox work?

If you're interested in incorporating digital dopamine detox into your life, here are some tips to get started using Waitasec:

  1. Start small:
    We don’t recommend going cold turkey on all dopamine-inducing applications at once. Start by reducing your intake of 1-2 applications that you feel are most disruptive to your life, that could be Instagram or Tik Tok, Reddit or LinkedIn. Take your pick!  
  2. Set boundaries:
    Once you have selected your app(s), Waitasec pops up to nudge you away from those app(s) whenever you try to open them. Waitasec provides you with a mindfulness practice as an alternative, which promotes mindfulness and mental well-being.
    You can also set a limit on how much time you spend on the selected app(s), and how often you wish Waitasec to remind you to look away from these apps.
  3. Be mindful:
    Pay attention to how you feel throughout the digital dopamine detox process. Notice any changes in your mood, energy levels, or motivation. Jot them down and see your progress over time.
  4. Find alternatives:
    Besides staying on your smartphones, identify other activities that don't rely on dopamine for pleasure. Calming, but still rewarding activities, such as reading, cooking, or being in nature are great alternatives.
  5. Experiment:
    Everyone's brain chemistry is different, so what works foryou may not work for me.  Be open totrying out different approaches until you find what works best for you!

Waitasec is working on providing you with a personalised plan on your digital wellness journey, join our Beta Program to find out more!

Benefits of doing a digital dopamine detox?

There are several benefits to incorporating dopamine detoxinto your digital wellness journey. By reducing the amount of dopamine thatyour brain is exposed to on a regular basis, you can:

  1. Build better habits:
    By taking a break from social media, you can take controlover your digital wellness.
    You will learn to reduce your dependence on smartphone apps for pleasure, and gain time working on other hobbies which brings you sustained joy.
  2. Alleviate depressive and anxious feelings6:
    Excessive use of social media has been found to correlate with depression, anxiety and psychological distress. Reducing time mindlessly spent on social media will reduce these symptoms and improve our mood as well as mental health.
  3. Improve focus and productivity:
    When we're constantly bombarded with dopamine hits and stimulated by content on social media apps, it can be difficult to concentrate on tasks that require effort and focus, and much easier to procrastinate on them.Reducing our screen time facilitates our ability to redistribute our limited energy to more important tasks which may be rewarding in the long-term.

Digital Dopamine Detox Done Right

When done right, digital dopamine or social media detox is beneficial to us in a number of ways. It can help us be intentional with our time, prevent addictive be haviours and learn to find pleasure in a healthier manner. Remember to start small, set boundaries, find alternatives, be mindful, and experiment until you find what works best for you.

Start today on your digital wellness journey with Waitasec. We will accompany you with tips and tricks to building better habits!


  1. Burhan, R., & Moradzadeh, J. (2020). Neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) and its role in the development of social media addiction.Journal of Neurology & Neurophysiology, 11 (7), 1-2.
  2. Blum, K.,Chen, A. L., Giordano, J., Borsten, J., Chen, T. J., Hauser, M., ... & Barh, D. (2012). The addictive brain: all roads lead to dopamine. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 44(2), 134-143.
  3. Fei, Y.Y., Johnson, P. A., Omran, N. A., Mardon, A., & Johnson, J. C. (2022).Maladaptive or misunderstood? Dopamine fasting as a potential intervention for behavioral addiction. Lifestyle Medicine,3(1), e54.
  4. Grinspoon,B.(2020). Dopamine fasting: Misunderstanding science spawns a maladaptive fad.Harvard Health Publishing.
  5. Corbit,L. H., & Balleine, B. W. (2016). Learning and motivational processes contributing to Pavlovian–instrumental transfer and their neural bases:dopamine and beyond. Behavioral neuroscience of motivation, 259-289.
  6. Keles,B., McCrae, N., & Grealish, A. (2020). A systematic review: the influence of social media on depression, anxiety and psychological distress in adolescents. InternationalJournal of Adolescence and Youth, 25(1), 79-93.

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