86 billion. That’s the number of cells your brain has. Without a doubt, the gooey mass between your ears is controlling your body like nothing else.
It only makes sense to spend most of our time taking care of it. But we don’t. In fact, most don’t even think the brain needs care. Experts have determined that our modern lifestyle is chipping away at our neural pathways, making us slower, dumber, and less creative.
There are hundreds of reasons why that’s the case. To fix that, we need to be aware of the bad habits that we’ve picked up. To some these habits can come as a shock — for they never would’ve thought that damage they are doing to themselves through their indulgence.
The Disastrous Effect of Inactivity
Ever since remote work has become the norm, many people have found themselves not leaving their bedrooms. I know people who eat, drink, sleep and work at the same place all day.
The only exercise they get is getting groceries, which thanks to technology, can also be delivered.
Whether they realize it or not, it has grave consequences. Sitting for too long is directly linked to heart disease, obesity, depression, dementia, and cancer. More than that, it also changes certain neurons in the brain, for the worse.
How to fix it
Now, I’m not telling you to hit the gym or hire a trainer.
20–30 minutes of movement is all you need. The popular 10,000 step rule is also a great goal to gun for. If you’re thinking — “I don’t have the time,” you’re lying to yourself.
The #1 Killer of Concentration
The amount of information we go through on an average day is surprising. The average American consumes about 34 gigabytes of data and information each day — an increase of about 350 percent over nearly three decades — according to a report from the University of California, San Diego.
No wonder — our number one concentration killer is constant sensory input.
Blasting Loud Music
Whether it’s working out, walking, or doing a mundane task like answering emails, all of us crave some nice music. And to immerse ourselves in our favorite melodies, we invariably turn the volume up.
However, you might want to think hard before doing that. With the popular use of noise-canceling earphones, you can easily damage your hearing. When your ears get used to a certain volume, you need to put in more effort to hear the normal sounds of those around you. Thus, you can’t store things in your memory fast enough.
Headphonesty says to remove your headphones while listening and hold them at arm’s length. If you can still hear the music, turn it down and repeat. This is a good check to keep protect your ears. Also, take regular breaks if you have to listen to music and give a much-needed rest to your brain and ears.
Watching Reality Shows
In India, as in most countries I assume, reality TV is a big thing. Naturally, people are attracted to drama (often fake).
When I caution people (and myself) from watching such shows, they say “It’s harmless!” I say, “Well, yeah, eating a burger every morning also seems harmless but over time it has disastrous effects”
The truth is “Reality TV is junk food for our brain, and in the same way that junk food rots our teeth and makes us sick, bad reality TV rots our brain and makes us rude,” says psychiatrist Dr. Marcia Sirota.
Doing Twice as Much as You Should, Half as Well as You Could
Wondering what I’m talking about? It’s multitasking.
Multitasking is chipping away at your concentration one interruption at a time. In recent years, multitasking is promoted as a desired trait in people and often makes it to the job descriptions of many roles.
However, the fact is that humans are not made to multitask at all. We can’t do two things and give equal attention to both of them. Only computers can do that.
Sugarfree — “Is It Free of Sugar or Is the Sugar Free?”
We live in a world where sugar is everywhere. There’s no processed food that doesn’t contain sugar in some form — simply because it’s addictive and helps food brands sell more units.
As consumers, we need to be wary of this fact. Sugar consumption can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels and create abnormal blood flow patterns in the brain. Excessive sugar consumption can also lead to oxidative stress which in turn leads to moods, depression, poor memory, low concentration, and slower thinking.
These were some of the overlooked habits that are hurting your brain in the long run. At one point, I was probably indulging in all of the above. But after cutting back, I find myself more productive, less moody, and much happier.
Along with them, don’t forget the basics of good brain healthy — good diet, sleep, drinking enough water, etc.
Taking care of our brains is our responsibility. It won’t magically take care of itself if we live our lives according to our whims and fancies.