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Drive Development Day Teaches Students How To Overcome Procrastination

 

On Friday, April 12, 2024, students learned how to leverage dopamine to overcome procrastination during a Drive Development Day presentation hosted by Student Wellness Counselor, Jodi Siberski, and Athletic Director, Aaron Babicz ‘93.

“This information will help you now as well as later in life,” Babicz told students. 

The presentation focused on the teachings of Doctor Huberman’s Lab Podcast, which discusses topics such as drive and motivation, neuroregeneration, and using natural remedies, like sleep, sunlight, and healthy habits, to heal the mind. 

As Siberski explained, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates pain and pleasure. It’s not to be confused with serotonin, endorphins, and other chemicals in the body. 

“There are five pathways in our brain where dopamine is working. The one we’re focusing on today is the mesocortical pathway, which affects decision making. That part of your brain is not yet developed until you’re 25. This can affect decision making, planning, understanding the context of where you are, and certain jokes that go over well with your friends but not so well in the classroom. This has to do with knowing what to do, when, where, how much, and how hard we’re going to work,” Siberski stated. 

Siberski and Babicz explained that dopamine levels come and go as waves and drops in the brain. “Life has peaks and valleys. Sometimes we’re on high and sometimes we crash. That’s life. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with you when you feel those lows or drops,” Babicz stated. 

The duo also explained what factors cause dopamine to drop, how to get out of drops faster, and examples of how we procrastinate when dopamine levels are low, such as cleaning your room instead of studying for a test. 

Siberski told students that dopamine levels might spike after they accomplish something but then drop after it’s done. She explained the importance of slowing down the decline so students don’t have to work as hard to get out of it. 

“Dopamine can be released from behaviors, cold, light, compounds, and chemicals. We have to be careful not to overdo it. The more you do to make yourself feel better quickly, like using chemicals or drugs, the worse you’re going to feel afterwards,” Siberski stated. 

Babicz and Siberski explained that there are healthy ways to help increase dopamine levels, such as working out, getting enough sleep, and repairing the body through a proper diet. On the other hand, things like eating comfort foods and sweets, and feeling bad for yourself can cause dopamine to drop. 

“It takes longer to repair your body when you don't sleep at night. It also prevents you from learning. Processing information is slower when you don’t sleep well. You’ll absorb more when you’re well rested. You lose up to two hours of learning during the day when you don’t get enough sleep at night,” Siberski explained. 

In his podcast, Doctor Huberman discusses that when you can’t sleep, you should do a 10 minute deep sleep guided protocol that will give you the same benefits as sleep. Siberski passed around a QR code for students to get more information on his protocol. 

Doctor Huberman also suggests eating a high protein diet as dopamine is made from an amino acid called tyrosine. Examples of high protein foods include eggs, cheese, meat, whole grains, and nuts. 

He also suggests getting more exposure to sunlight. Siberski explained that sunlight early in the morning is especially helpful. “Five to ten minutes of direct sunlight can help boost your mood, energy levels, and wakefulness. Sitting inside playing on your phone is not as important as getting outside, exercising, and being in the sunlight,” she said. 

Siberski also recommended talk therapy and medical intervention as a last resort for regulating dopamine, in addition to exercise. 

“Exercise is a treatment for mood disorders and anxiety. Walk around the school a few times if you’re anxious about coming in for a test,” she suggested. 

Meanwhile, Babicz suggested taking a cold shower, if only for the last few seconds, to help energize students to get ready for the day. 

The pair also discussed dopamine zapping and the impact electronics have on dopamine. To correct this, they recommended developing a healthy morning routine, such as drinking water, reading or writing, meditating, eating a high protein breakfast, taking a walk or exercising, and staying off social media for one hour after waking up.

One student asked, “How do you regulate dopamine when you have a busy day, such as a whole day of school, practice from 5 PM to 7 PM, and then homework?”

Babicz responded, “Make yourself do it. Doing tough things helps develop parts of your brain. You have to train yourself mentally. Give yourself some grace when you’re in a valley. But don’t give yourself grace when you know you have to do something. Do tough things right away. Don’t procrastinate. Train yourself to do tough things you don’t want to do. It might be small things right now, like homework, but that helps you later in life when you become a father, dad, and professional.”

Siberski and Babicz wrapped up the first half of the presentation by explaining the importance of mindset. “Decide that you’re a person who has a good mindset. Find things that pep you up. Don’t wait to do things as this makes it worse.”

Lastly, they encouraged students to set a schedule and do the same things every day at the same time. Babicz talked about being nice to someone and the positive effects this has on dopamine.

“Be nice to someone. Smile at them. Say hello. Make someone happy and pour into them, even if they don’t do it back to you. Being nice to someone immediately helps dopamine levels. Tell them you like their shoes or saw something they did. Practice relationship building,” Babicz stated. 

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