By Sinem Günel
Your brain is the control center for all activities in your body. It regulates your breathing, heartbeat, and many more vital activities.
Yet, most people harm their brains every single day. And most of the time, they’re not even aware of it.
In this post, I’m not going to cover obviously brain-damaging activities like smoking or excessive drinking. Instead, we’ll debunk some of the more subtle habits that might be harming your brain in your daily life.
One of the most underrated ways you might be harming your brains is by not using it.
Think of your brain like a muscle: If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
Your brain is designed to think. Challenging thoughts, new skills, different languages, interesting conversations, reading, new experiences, or even puzzles and crosswords can help stimulate your brain and develop neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to adapt.
Like any muscle, your brain needs to be used and flexed to stay in shape.
What to do:
Research proves that brain exercises have a positive effect on our cognitive abilities. So, what are you waiting for? Ask yourself what you could do this week to train your brain.
What about reading a new book on a topic you’re not familiar with? Or signing up for that French or Spanish class you always wanted to visit?
What’s one thing that sounds a little bit scary but still tempting? Find it out and make a plan to get started as soon as possible.
Our biggest enemies
Bad news: Your favorite companion is your worst enemy.
Good news: You can defeat him.
I’m talking about your screens. Your phone, laptop, tablet,… they’re all designed to make you stay glued to your screen. But what’s good for social media giants like Facebook is deadly for your brain health.
If your eyes start to hurt and feel dry while staring at your screens, you know you should stop and take a break. Yet, the problem is that we‘re mostly not even aware of these obvious signs.
Instead, we keep scrolling because the Instagram feed looks tempting or because we think we need to reply to one more email.
Yet, studies show a direct link between screentime and depression. And it’s no wonder because most of the content we consume online is negative and harms our wellbeing.
First, we face mental overstimulation.
Second, our eyes hurt.
Third, most media and negative news harm our emotions and negatively impact our thinking.
And if that’s still not enough reasons to curb down your screen time, studies also show that too much screen time impairs brain structure and function.
What to do:
You don’t have to avoid social media or technology altogether. It’s just about setting healthy boundaries and making sure you control your media consumption, not the other way around.
Most smartphones allow you to track your screen time to see how much time you spend using your device.
According to TechJury, the average American spends 5.4 hours per day on his phone.
Just imagine what you could do, create, or learn if you had an additional five hours each day.
For the next few days, analyze your screen usage and ask yourself how you could minimize it, so you have more time to invest in meaningful activities.