I'm Feeling Kinda Burned Out, But This Woman's "Dopamine Menu" Hack Just Might Help

I don't know about you, but 2023 has felt like the longest year of my life. Now, with the sun going down before I log off work, I'm feeling a bit extra rundown and wishing I could simply hibernate until next year.

Tim Robinson in I Think You Should Leave with his head down on a table saying I'm just like the tiredest I've ever been in my life

But recently, I came across a viral tip for adding more joy to my days and keeping burnout at bay, and it honestly seems like something that could help me feel a bit more like myself. Behold, the dopamine menu.

woman filling in a dopamine menu worksheet with a marker

In a video that's been viewed over 1.5 million times, 27-year-old Kristen West (@thecenteredlife) shared how she uses her dopamine menu to build more enjoyment into her days.

Kristen smiling and wearing a blazer

She starts the video, saying, "So, sometime in the last two years of always working and then burning out, I stopped doing things that actually make me happy. And to help with that, I've been using a tool called a dopamine menu which I learned about from this YouTube video."

Here's how it works. Kristen explains, "There's four categories: You've got appetizers. These are quick boosts of joy that you can do in under 10 minutes. Entrees — these are the passions that really light you up but take a little more time."

"Sides, which you can do at the same time as boring tasks and make it more stimulating. And desserts. These are our usual go-to's like social media. They're tasty in moderation, but they can make us feel yucky in excess."

Once you've made a menu, Kristen recommends putting it up somewhere you'll see it frequently throughout the day. "It will be a handy visual reminder of what actually fills us up whenever we're feeling low and tempted to binge on brain desserts, if you will."

Kristen putting her dopamine menu up on her wall

Watch Kristen's full video here:

@thecenteredlife / Via tiktok.com

And in a follow-up video, she shared what's on her dopamine menu and encouraged viewers to chime in with their selections.

kristen doing yoga on the beach as an entree and making fruit cup as an appetizer

I got inspired to make my own dopamine menu and stuck it up on my fridge where I'll see it often.

The author's dopamine menu stuck on her fridge with a smiley face magnet

In the comments of Kristen's videos, people shared more great ideas, like this person's girl dinner edition of the dopamine menu:

girl dinner dopamine: calling friends, movies at home, cooking, drawing, sitting in my hammock, chair, naps, games, playing catch
@thecenteredlife / Via tiktok.com

People also shared other similar strategies they've tried, like this commenter who keeps a note on their phone of things they like to do.

I have a note on my phone of things I like to do because I literally forget what makes me happy
@thecenteredlife / Via tiktok.com

But on the other hand, some people joined in to say that they don't even really know what they actually like anymore, which is a tough feeling. Hopefully, hearing more from others about what they like to do can help get those juices flowing.

watching this not remembering if I have any hobbies or things I like

Kristen told BuzzFeed that she loves using her dopamine menu and has found it really helpful. "When I'm feeling overstimulated and fried from focusing on a project, it's easy to reach for my phone to numb out."

"It helps to have my dopamine menu visible when I'm overstimulated or bored so I don't have to do the in-the-moment labor of finding activities that'll make me feel better."

And she shared a helpful tip for anyone who wants to try using a dopamine menu themselves. "If you want to try it out, I'd recommend keeping it somewhere you can see it and also make it EASY to reach for the things on your menu!"

"For example, if your entree is practicing guitar, keep your guitar out and visible if you can so that there's less friction between you and that menu item."

Now I'm curious, have you ever tried using an activity menu like this? What would be on your dopamine menu? Or do you do something else that helps you enjoy your time more? Let's talk about it in the comments.