6 Habits That Can Damage Your Brain and Mental Health

Do you engage in habits that harm your mental health? (Image via Pexels/ Pranavsinh)
Do you engage in habits that harm your mental health? (Image via Pexels/ Pranavsinh)

Most of us rely on our habits to guide our daily actions. Often, we don't realize the cause or its effects. Some everyday, seemingly harmless habits can be so bad that they can cause lasting brain damage.

The human brain is the most important organ in our body, and we all fail to believe that the brain also requires exercise, training, and nutrition for it to function well. Thus, forming good habits and avoiding the following bad habits will prevent brain damage and keep it healthy.

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Sleep Deprivation and 5 Other Habits That Can Damage Your Brain and Mental Health

Your brain is your most valuable asset. It controls everything you do, and we can take care of it by making healthy choices. Unfortunately, there are many habits that can damage not only our brain but also mental health. The good news is that we can break these bad habits.

1) Excessive alone time

Even if we all occasionally yearn for solitude, social interaction is crucial for the health of your brain. A lack of social engagement can be detrimental to your brain. Interpersonal relationships are essential because they stimulate the brain.

However, if you spend all of your time alone, your brain does not receive the same stimulation. It is not always easy to reach out to people and make connections. Spending time with friends and family on a regular basis, on the other hand, can go a long way because positive social bonds enrich your personal life, which in turn keeps your brain in great condition.


2) Hyperfocusing on the negative

In addition to keeping you unhappy, dwelling on grudges, resentments, and negative thoughts has been associated with a decline in memory and cognition in people 55 and older, according to a study. The biochemical indicators of Alzheimer's disease, amyloid and tau deposits, were more prevalent in the brains of participants who frequently dwelled on unpleasant thoughts.

Everyone has a tendency to hyperfocus on the negatives in life. It's a normal part of our existence, and while not everyone will get Alzheimer's, it is also a habit that should be avoided.


3) Information overload

Too much to do and to little time can hamper your mental health. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)
Too much to do and to little time can hamper your mental health. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)

The number of emails, social media updates, and notifications we receive can be overwhelming, and it can take up a significant portion of the day for many people. If the constant stream of content is not controlled, it might stress people out and lead to cognitive overload.

Research has found that in a situation where you are trying to concentrate on a task and an email is sitting unread in your inbox, you can reduce your effective IQ by 10 points.

To maximize your brain every day, use better tools and settings to process information throughout the day. Take some accountability for your media use. Prepare your mind to filter out unnecessary information. When you organize your day with these principles in mind, your brain's productivity will probably go up dramatically.


4) Lack of sleep

Inadequate sleep can lead to mental health concerns. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)
Inadequate sleep can lead to mental health concerns. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)

Inadequate sleep is a major issue for many of us. Sleep deprivation can have detrimental short- and long-term effects, including slowed reaction times, fluctuating glucose levels, mood swings, headaches, memory loss, and hormonal imbalances. Recent studies indicate that obtaining insufficient sleep may cause brain shrinkage.

You must get enough sleep for your brain. Your brain's ability to process information, consolidate memories, build connections, and purge toxins decreases when you deny it a proper amount of sleep. Lack of sleep slows down your thinking, impairs your memory, concentration, judgment, and decision-making, and impedes learning.


5) Perfectionism

Are you trying to perfect everything? (Image via Freepik/ Vector)
Are you trying to perfect everything? (Image via Freepik/ Vector)

Pursuit of excellence is a healthy habitβ€”it is always important to do your best when trying to achieve an important goal. Doing something perfectly can increase your chances of success, of course, but the need to be perfect at all times can diminish your efforts and mental health.

Psychologists describe perfectionism as either positive or negative. Habits of positive perfectionism include setting realistic goals, letting go of failures, seeing mistakes as opportunities for growth, keeping anxiety and stress within healthy boundaries, and enjoying the process as well as the outcome.

Habits of negative perfection include setting standards beyond your reach, dissatisfaction with anything less than perfection, preoccupation with failure or disapproval, and seeing mistakes as evidence of unworthiness.


6) Overindulging

Being a sweet tooth may not be helping with your brain health. (Image via Pexels/ Carolina Almeida)
Being a sweet tooth may not be helping with your brain health. (Image via Pexels/ Carolina Almeida)

Eating practices that are deemed healthy for the body are also healthy for the brain. Your brain's health can be harmed by consuming excessive amounts of salt, sugar, alcohol, or food in general. According to data from a 2012 study, during a 10-year period, those who were overweight showed a 22% decline in cognitive performance compared to their thinner colleagues.

Salt: High salt consumption contributes to high blood pressure. High blood pressure raises your risk of having a stroke, and repeated small brain traumas create minor cognitive problems.

Sugar: As tasty as it might be, sugar is bad for your brain. Research has repeatedly shown that sugar has a deleterious impact on brain physiology, impairing the development of long-term memory and learning. This study also showed a strong link between sugar consumption and decreased cognitive function.


Takeaway

There are many everyday habits that people practice daily that have a significant impact on mental health. In fact, some of your favorite hobbies and habits can be the causes of declining psychological health. By examining your daily routines, you can identify which practices may not be supporting your wellbeing and worsening the cognitive aspects of your life. From there, you can start replacing unhealthy habits with healthier ones that are better for your mental health.


Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.


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Edited by Babylona Bora