4 Free ways to upregulate dopamine receptor

Low dopamine signaling is associated with low motivation, low libido and sexual dysfunction, anhedonia, no creativity, less desire for life, etc.

Although these are “suggestions”, I highly recommend doing them on a daily basis or at least a weekly basis, to continually reap the benefits.

Sometimes these activities have accumulative effects, so you truly reap their benefits when done daily.


Sunshine exposure modulates and enhances the dopaminergic system as a whole and can increase striatal D2 and D3 dopamine receptor availability (R).

Getting out in the morning is one of the best things you can do to boost your dopamine and set your mood for the day.


Exercise resulted in increased urine dopamine, increased striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability (the part of the brain involved in multiple aspects of cognition, including both motor and action planning, decision-making, motivation, reinforcement, and reward perception), increased dopamine release in the caudate nucleus, dopamine release in the ventromedial striatum, and increased blood plasma dopamine (R).

Exercise also increases BDNF which also upregulates dopamine receptors.

Environmental enrichment

Stress is known to initially release dopamine, which, after chronic stress, becomes desensitized (R). People that suffer from depression also frequently suffer from anhedonia.

Anhedonia is a result of low dopamine or low dopamine sensitivity (decreased dopamine receptor expression and affinity to dopamine).

Indirectly stress decreases dopamine receptors. So anything that can help to manage stress should be able to upregulate (restore) dopamine receptor expression.

Environmental enrichment (e.g. forest bathing) is a great way to decrease stress, resensitize the cortisol receptor (to restore proper negative feedback) and upregulate the dopamine receptors (R).

Keep in mind that any kind of routine can become boring. If you walk the same route every day, it will likely be less stress-relieving compared to walking a different route.

Try something new every once in a while. Try a new food dish, a new kind of fruit, a new sport, a new activity (rollerblading with the dogs is something I’ve started lately), travel, explore, etc.

Manage stress

As mentioned above, managing stress via environmental enrichment, for example, is a great way to lower stress and resensitize dopamine receptors.

Other activities that can help to reduce stress are:

  • Doing some very intense activities (boxing bag, cycling as hard as you can, trick jump rope, sprinting, etc.)
  • Watching comedy. You can’t be laughing and be stressed at the same time. We like Dry Bar Comedy on Youtube. Daily vids from them.
  • Hanging with upbeat friends and perhaps going and doing a fun activity with them.
  • Stop being busy. For example, when stressed on unsure, we often engage in a useless time-wasting, stress-inducing loop, like checking emails, checking messages, checking stats, etc, etc. Being busy vs productive.
  • Resolving conflict.

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Bonus: Avoid dopamine desensitization activities

See your dopamine as a bucket. If you’re healthy, your bucket is full. You can do activities that fill the bucket up and do things that poke holes in the bucket and drain it.

The things I mentioned above fill the bucket up.

The things I list below drain the bucket.

If you’re chronically bumming on youtube/Instagram/Tick tok or playing games, smoking weed, drinking alcohol, you’re draining your bucket. How do you usually feel after binging Instagram, Youtube, 9gag, etc, after a couple of hours?

Tired and even a little anhedonic. What do you do when you’re tired and anhedonic? Binge some more to try to get those feelings back.

But what you need to do is get up, go out and do the other things I mentioned above. But you don’t want to because you have anhedonia. But after you’ve walked a trail or ride your bike through a nice scenic route, you’ll feel a whole lot better.

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