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.
Let’s see what they are
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.
It’s high time for all of us to understand a simple fact — movement is good. It releases endorphins that make us feel better, keeps our hearts healthy, and make our brains work better.
Excessive sitting during work makes us hold our breath as we type on our computers. You can notice this yourself. This leads to lower oxygen in the body and consequence muddy thinking, fatigue, and poor focus.
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.
From great inventors like Nikola Tesla, and Charles Darwin to the busiest CEOs like Jobs, Zuckerberg, Jeff Weiner, and Jack Dorsey, everyone is a fan of walking.
A simple approach is to walk and talk at the same time. Batch all the calls you can and take a walk. Before you know it, you’ll easily hit your goal and waste no extra time on it. Another approach is to have a standing/walking desk that helps you move more and burn more calories.
I know that you’re smart enough to be aware of the benefits. You just need to apply it in your life. And with these simple ways, there’s no excuse not to.
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.
This includes emails, social media, talking to people, notifications, meetings, and much more. If we don’t manage our consumption better, it can easily lead to overwhelm and information overload.
Some people are proud of the fact that they can get through a book on the commute at 3x speed and listen to 2 podcasts while also checking emails, books, and the news. But that’s nothing to be proud of.
Even a small piece of information can hinder focus. For instance, if you’re trying to concentrate on a task and you know an email is sitting unread in your inbox, it can reduce your effective IQ by 10 points.
Use tools and processes to minimize the amount of content you consume daily. Try to take less short-form content and invest that time into reading long-form pieces. They hold your concentration and help you improve focus instead of jumping from one tweet to another.
Eliminate useless things like social media, news, gossip, and other things that you can’t control or have nothing to do with you.
Learn to be in the quiet as often as possible. Stillness and silence are calming to the mind, body, and soul. Regular periods of silence are the only remedy to our overwhelming content consumption.
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.
Even without headphones, beware of being in environments with loud music such as clubs, studios, or concerts. A 50-year old mean reported a chronic headache after headbanging at a metal rock concert. His CT scan revealed a blood clot on the right side of the brain.
This is not to say the same will happen to you. But loud music hurts our brains in more ways than we can imagine. It’s best to lower the volume — you can still enjoy the music you love without damaging your brain.