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The 6 Worst Habits For Brain Health

We all have our daily routines. Get up, brush teeth, eat breakfast, work… on and on it goes through the day. And actually, that’s a good thing. Routine helps us cope with change and reduce stress levels. That’s because when your life is organized, it feels less chaotic, and you feel more in control. You’re able to move from one phase of the day to the next while remaining in control. 

At the same, while routine itself is a good thing for managing things like anxiety and stress, certain aspects of our routines could be damaging to brain health. And unfortunately, most of us engage in daily habits that prohibit the brain from fully functioning and allowing you to be your best, brightest self! 

It’s important to recognize these bad habits and reduce or eliminate them from our daily rituals. Take a look at 6 of the very worst habits for your brain. 

1. Too Much Multitasking

Some people pride themselves on their ability to juggle three or four projects at once. It’s often thought of as a positive attribute, yet research paints a very different picture. 

Stanford University has released research that found that people who multitask have a more difficult time recalling information and paying attention compared to people who focus on one task at a time. 

In fact, research from the University of London has found that multitasking can actually drop IQ scores by 15 percent! 

Best to do your best to take projects and tasks one at a time and give them the attention they deserve. 

2. Skipping Breakfast 

Ever find yourself in such a hurry to get out the door or get the day going that you decide to forego breakfast? Well, there’s a reason they call it the most important meal of the day. 

A Japanese study of over 80,000 subjects over a 15-year period found that those who regularly skipped breakfast actually increased their risk of high blood pressure and even stroke. Blood pressure drops after breakfast, and skipping breakfast could increase your risk of a brain hemorrhage, the study’s authors wrote. 

Another study found that skipping breakfast or eating a low-quality breakfast (i.e. sugary cereal) have a negative effect on cognitive function. This results in a decline in brain excitability, the emergence of a slow response and a reduction in attention.

Even if you have to get up a few minutes early, it’s extremely important to eat a healthy breakfast -- consistently. 

3. Sugar Overload 

Speaking of the quality of food you eat, half a dozen donuts isn’t going to cut it for a healthy breakfast. That’s because high-sugar foods are extremely dangerous to the brain. 

Excess sugar impairs both our cognitive skills and our self-control. That’s because sugar activates the same reward center of the brain that is triggered by illegal drugs. In other words, once you get a taste, you just want more. 

And more sugar is bad news. Some research suggests a high sugar diet can cause inflammation responses in the brain, which can lead to serious health challenges. It can result in slowed cognitive function and deficits in memory and attention. 

4. Isolating Yourself

These days, it’s easy to feel cut off from the rest of the world. Even in “normal” times, it’s become more common for people to have far fewer face-to-face meetings or actual phone calls. 

And science has found loneliness is bad for the brain. That’s because we’re naturally social creatures, and not getting that social interaction tells the brain something’s wrong. For example, socially isolated people find it tougher to deal with stressful situations and are even more likely to feel depressed. 

Isolation has also been connected to poor decision-making abilities. The cure, of course, is to socialize as much as you can. Even if you’re unable to do so in person, arrange phone calls and video chats with people you care about. 

5. Smartphone Obsession 

Most of us have at least one smart device in the home these days, and often, it’s more than one. The most popular, by far, is the smartphone. Studies have found that many adults have their phones with them 22 hours a day. And the time they spend active on that phone is having an impact on their brain health. 

In one study, researchers found that cognitive capacity was significantly reduced whenever a smartphone is within reach -- even when the phone is off. 

Further research has found smartphone obsession has a negative effect on sleep patterns and can lower your problem-solving ability. 

It’s best to limit smartphone use as best you can in order to keep your brain firing on all cylinders. And speaking of which… 

6. “I’ll Google it!” 

One of the most amazing differences between today and when seniors were children is the ability to get information -- almost any information -- instantly. Unfortunately, that convenience has come with a cost. 

It wasn’t long ago we had to have at least a dozen phone numbers memorized, and we would utilize specific parts of our brains to remember them. Certain mental tricks and triggers stimulated brain function. 

That is a relic of the past. So how does it affect our brains? Research has found that college students were shown to recall less information when they knew they could simply search for it instead. And a cybersecurity firm found that Google is actually destroying our memories. 

I suggest you try to resist the temptation of trusting computers to remember everything for you. From a practicality standpoint, if you find yourself in a bind where you need to call someone and you don’t have a smartphone with you… you’ll be glad you’ve got some numbers stored in your noggin!


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