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8 Common Daily Habits That Could Actually Be Hurting Your Brain

Photo: Karolina Grabowska, PublicDomainPictures / CanvaPro
Woman holding her head in front of a dreary background.

Keeping our relationships, bodies, and mindsets healthy starts with us, more specifically, with our brains. When we cultivate habits that help our brains other aspects of our lives begin to flourish, as well. 

Here are 8 common daily habits that could be damaging your brain.

1. 'Staying in the dark too much.'

Unwinding in peace and quiet, whether it’s in our beds or lounging on a couch, makes all the difference after a stressful day. With dim lights, snacks, and our favorite new series to watch, the world seems a hundred times more bearable. 

However, a study out of Michigan State University found that spending too much time in the dark can actually hurt your brain — potentially hindering memory, learning capabilities, and overall mood. 

Instead of unwinding in the dark, open up those black-out curtains and let in some light instead. Your brain will thank you for it.

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2. 'Consuming too much negative news.' 

Gordon, a life coach on TikTok, shared that almost “all news is negative news” and it’s nearly impossible for people to avoid the bleakness that the media presents. However, taking active steps to avoid it might save your mental health by reducing stress and anxiety levels in your daily life. 

   

   

Recent studies have shown that overconsumption of negative media is hurting our mental health and increasing anxiety. 

“Consider taking a news diet,” Gordon advised. “Either shut off the news completely … or set a timer for five or ten minutes, and that’s all you get for the day.” 

3. 'Blasting your headphones on full volume.' 

Who can resist listening to your song of the week on full volume? Whether it’s on the way to work, during a workout, or while lounging, it’s a great distraction from the hustle and bustle of our lives. 

However, listening to music at the maximum volume can impact our brains through our ears. Part of our delicate inner ear called the cochlea, contains important hair cells that relay messages to the brain. Loud noise can permanently damage those hair cells and in turn, prevent the relaying of messages to the brain. That ultimately means irreparable hearing loss.

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4. Constantly being socially isolated. 

“It’s been shown that social isolation increases your chance of death about the same as smoking cigarettes, having high blood pressure, or being obese,” Dr. Ben Rein on TikTok advised. “It’s also associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer's Disease.” 

   

   

So, while alone time has been shown to help foster creativity, increase mood, and cultivate healthy self-awareness, too much of it can be detrimental. When alone time crosses into social isolation, people report much higher levels of loneliness, often leading to depression, poor sleep, impaired executive functions, and higher rates of cognitive decline.

5. Indulging in 'too much screen time.'

Screen time is a highly debated topic. Whether you’re a full-time working adult, a teenager, or a toddler, the consequences of too much screen time can permanently harm your brain. 

A study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that people who engage in “excessive screen time,” typically more than two hours a day, may develop physical changes to their brains. Not only can this trigger mental health problems like depression and heightened anxiety, but it can also increase the likelihood of obesity, sleep disorders, and decreased executive functioning. For children, this can lead to academic struggles, decreased language skills, and the potential for social isolation. 

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6. 'Consuming too much sugar.' 

TikTok creator @motivationaldoc advised that “sugarholics” are at risk for a number of health issues down the road and usually people don’t even realize the foods they’re eating are high in these sugars. 

While we typically think of candy, cakes, and cookies as high-sugar foods, people who regularly consume sweetened energy drinks, sodas, and juices are also at risk. 

   

   

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Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explained, "The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease — are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke."

Luckily, there are ways to cut back on daily sugar intake without even noticing. The British Heart Foundation suggests swapping sugary cereals with wholegrain ones, eliminating sugary sodas, and removing sugar from coffees and teas. 

7. 'Barely moving throughout the day.' 

Studies show that moving your body, even just for a quick stretching session or 15-minute walk, can be incredibly beneficial to your overall well-being and mental health. 

So, if you’re constantly sitting at work or find yourself lounging for most of your day, consider swapping some TV time with low-impact activities like walking or yoga. 

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8. 'Poor sleeping habits.' 

The CDC’s recommendations for healthy sleep reveal that teenagers and adults should be getting anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. 

Not prioritizing sleep can put you at risk for a number of health problems including learning setbacks, mental health struggles, and physical ailments. 

Taking care of your brain is as important as taking care of your body.

There's no denying that when it comes to overall health, people tend to disregard their brains. Start prioritizing wellness from the top down and you'll inevitably notice improvements in every aspect of your well-being.

   

   

The brain drives the body so it's time to start taking care of it!

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture analysis and human interest stories.