Dwelling On the Negative All The Time Will Actually Change Your Brain
People say you should always see the glass half full. Turns out, they may be rightâat least when it comes to your brain’s health. Pessimism isn’t just a mood killer. It can actually change how your brain works. Our brains are highly motivated by rewards. We’re much more likely to complete an unpleasant or boring task if we believe there will be a positive payoff at the end. Pessimism can take over our brains’ natural motivation toward reward by making us feel that the reward is not worth a bit of discomfort. This could make you avoid things that you used to enjoy, a hallmark of depression and generalized anxiety. Dwelling too much on negative things is also linked with cognitive decline, memory loss, and a higher risk of dementia later in life. In fact, repeated negative thinking in older adults was associated with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
You might think that the biggest danger of sitting at a desk all day is a sore back. But recent evidence has shown that it might be bad for your brain too. A small study at UCLA found that people who regularly sit for long periods throughout the day had thinning in the part of the brain associated with forming memories. As you age, this part of the brain naturally thins, leading to memory issues. But this study suggests that a sedentary lifestyle could speed that process up. Thinning of the brain region is also an early sign of dementia. Sitting too much has a negative effect on other organs as well. A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, which can impact how much blood, nutrients, and oxygen are delivered to the brain
Avoiding The Doctor Could Keep Them From Catching Problems In Your Brain
The key to preventing serious health issues is to catch them as early as possible. Keeping your body healthy will in turn help keep your brain healthy. That means it’s important to stay on top of all aspects of your health and go to the doctor at the first sign of trouble. Avoiding the doctor may allow health conditions that can affect your brain to worsen. Many health problems can indirectly affect your brain health if they are not treated or managed properly. High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease increase your risk of stroke and aneurysm. Diabetes that isn’t well-managed can cause permanent damage to the brain. Digestive issues can cause stress and are linked to anxiety and depression. Diseases that affect the immune system or cause inflammation can have a detrimental effect on the brain’s health.
If You Don’t Get Enough Natural Light, You Could Suffer From Depression
Natural light is a mood booster. It could also be a brain booster. A huge study in the U.K. found that people who didn’t spend much time outdoors in natural light had a higher risk for depression. Lack of sunlight negatively affected mood and also caused trouble sleeping. Natural light plays an important role in regulating our sleep-wake cycles. Being deprived of natural light for long periods of time disrupts that cycle, causing a host of mental health issues. In fact, the extended lack of sunlight that occurs in some areas in the winter can cause a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder. This disorder can be treated with lamps that simulate sunlight.
Playing Full-Contact Sports Could Have Lasting Effects On Your Brain
Playing sports is a great way to stay in shape. But full-contact sports like football, soccer, and hockey may put you at risk for concussions and traumatic injuries that can have devastating effects on the brain. Concussions are common in contact sports at all levels from children up to professional athletes. Although one concussion is unlikely to cause long-term issues, repeated concussions can cause a serious condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This disease impairs thinking and causes mood and behavioral issues. It has no cure and gets progressively worse over time, often resulting in dementia. Brain scans of former professional athletes found changes in the structure of their brains compared to non-athletes. And the alterations were more obvious in athletes who played sports with higher levels of contact. Similar results were seen in college athletes who play full-contact and collision sports.
Not Taking a Break When You’re Sick Will Mess With Your Brain’s Ability To Cope
When you’re sick, your whole body needs time to heal. The brain is no exception. Although it may be tempting, going back to working while sick can have negative impacts on your brain health. Many of the symptoms that we associate with being sick may actually be our brain kicking into action to help us feel better. A study found that mice who are sick experience fever, chills, and loss of appetite due to a brain region that controls body temperature and appetite. In fact, when that brain region is activated in mice who are not sick, they experience the same symptoms as sick mice. That indicates that the symptoms may not actually be a result of the infection but the brain’s response to it. Another study found that mice moved less while sick to conserve energy, a behavior that is controlled by the brainstem. These studies suggest that the best thing we can do for our body when sick is to listen to our brain and take a break.
Using Recreational Drugs Will Actually Alter Your Brain
Recreational drugs like ecstasy are designed to alter our brains. Aside from the obvious risks of addiction and overdose that come with recreational drug abuse, these substances can change how our brains are wired. Brains cells are connected to each other and communicate using chemical and electrical signals. These signals control most brain functions, including learning and memory, focus and attention, decision-making, and critical thinking. Drugs alter how brain cells connect and communicate with each other. Some of those changes are irreversible. Recreational drug use can cause memory loss, kill brain cells, and increase the risk of mental health disorders, stroke, and seizures. Even cannabis use, which has well-documented health benefits, is not without risks. Marijuana use can impair memory and slow reaction time.
Not Cracking Open a Good Book Can Increase Chances Of Dementia
It should come as no surprise that reading is good for the brain. But you might not be aware of all the ways that curling up with a good book can improve brain health. Several studies show that people who read more have slower cognitive decline as they age and a lower risk of dementia. Reading keeps your memory sharp and helps you focus, even as age naturally impacts the parts of the brain that control those skills. Getting immersed in a book can reduce stress and helps you fall asleep. There’s also some evidence that helps your brain cells form new connections and may increase the length of your life.
Not Getting Your Vitamins Is Starving Your Brain Of What It Needs
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for your brain. As the most powerful organ in your body, your brain needs lots of nutrients to perform. Fish and nuts provide you with omega-3 fatty acids that help support overall brain health and memory. Flavonoids, found in berries, citrus fruit, green tea, and dark chocolate may slow cognitive decline as you age. Vitamin D from milk and mushrooms, vitamin E from avocado, nuts, and olives, and vitamin C from citrus fruit and a variety of vegetables all help keep your brain sharper for longer. Add in green leafy vegetables packed with lutein, folate, and Vitamin K, and you’ll have a diet that could be the key to a healthier brain and a healthier you!
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