In an era of increasing technology, we are all being rewired to do more to the detriment of our brains. According to experts, our modern lifestyle is chipping away at neural pathways and making us slower, denser and less capable of original thought. Hyperconnectivity is increasingly taking its toll on our brains. In the end, we end up less productive and ineffective.
When it comes to our health, we don’t always think about nurturing our brains the way we nourish our bodies. But to be our most productive self, we need to do more of what improves our brain health, and less of what causes cognitive decline. Start by adjusting your daily habits and avoiding these common modern habits — your mind will thank you.
The brain drain of inactivity
Physical inactivity has its price tags — It’s linked to the development of chronic health problems like heart disease, obesity, depression, dementia, and cancer. Many people are too busy to make time for “basic movement activities” that can slow cognitive decline — walking, cycling, stretching, etc.
Being sedentary changes the shape of certain neurons in the brain, according to a new study in the Journal of Comparative Neurology that suggests a link between inactivity and mental decline.
Regular physical activity can benefit you cognitively — increase brain chemicals which promote better memory and learning, and medically. You know this though. Knowledge of the benefits of exercise is not a problem in the modern world, it’s the application of relevant information.
Think you’re multitasking? Think again
Our smartphones have become Swiss army knives. We use them all the time. We text while we’re walking across the street, catch up on email while commuting, read or listen to podcasts while standing in a queue.
You’ve likely heard that multitasking is bad for your productivity. It turns out, it’s a habit that also rewires the brain and makes you less effective.
Neuroscientists at MIT say that our brains are not wired to multitask well. They say that when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.
Multitasking also increases the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking. Oh, and by the way, increased cortisol leads to weight gain as well…
Information overload leads to unnecessary overstimulation of the brain
The sheer volume of emails, social updates, and notifications we receive can be overwhelming — it takes a huge bite out of the day for many people. The constant stream of content if not managed can cause stress and lead to decision overload.
Some people proudly boast of how many things they can juggle in a single day. Glenn Wilson, former visiting professor of psychology at Gresham College, London found out in his research that being in a situation where you are trying to concentrate on a task, and an email is sitting unread in your inbox, can reduce your effective IQ by 10 points.
To maximize your brain every day, use better tools and settings to filter information throughout the day. Be proactive about how you consume media. Prepare your brain to ignore unnecessary information. When you organize your day with these principles in mind, you will likely increase your brain’s efficiency significantly.
It’s surprisingly easy for your headphones to damage the parts of the ear vital to healthy hearing
People, by nature, love to switch up the volume. It makes the music sounds more “fun” and immersive. In the age of noise-cancelling earbuds and headphones, you can easily damage your hearing.
When the rest of the world gets too distracting, it’s tempting to pop in your earbuds, crank up your favorite tunes, and close yourself off to focus better.
If you consistently blast your music too loudly, you can damage your hearing. But it’s not just your ears: Hearing loss in older adults is linked to brain problems, such as Alzheimer’s and loss of brain tissue.
When your brain has to work so hard to understand what’s being said around you, it can’t store what you’ve heard into memory. So, protect your hearing by adjusting the volume of your headphones — it’s an excellent way to preserve your hearing and allow your brain to work better.