The 7 worst habits for your brain health

Learn about the worst habits for your brain so you can spot (and stop) them.

If you've ever wondered why you don't feel as sharp or motivated as you used to, it could be because you've let some bad brain habits creep in. In this post, we'll look at the 7 worst habits for your brain so you can spot (and stop!) them.

Read on to what could damage your brain and what you can do about it. Some might seem harmless, but over time they can take their toll.

What are the 7 worst habits for your brain?

1. Not getting enough physical exercise

When was the last time you worked out? Do you have any upcoming plans to get off the couch and get active? Physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and your brain will thank you too.

Physical activity helps maintain sleep quality, your mental health, and keeps you calm—the list goes on! The benefits are well-documented and there are even organizations such as Moving Medicine that help doctors talk to their patients about the importance of exercise for their physical and mental wellbeing.

Related: Exercise and the Brain with Dr. Kelly McGonigal

2. Eating too much fast food

If fried chicken nuggets, burgers with cheese and bacon, and cheesy pizza are always on your menu, you might want to take a moment to think of your poor brain (and body, of course).

Research has even found that eating processed meat could increase your risk of developing cognitive issues later in life. Why? For starters, it is high in fat—particularly trans fats—and salt (which causes dehydration). Both these things can have a negative impact on your brain health!

Related: The 12 Best Brain Foods for a Healthy Brain

3. Consuming too much alcohol

Even if you're not a big drinker yourself (and we're not judging), chances are you know someone who is. In that case, it's important to know how this popular substance affects our brains and behavior.

First, let's start with the obvious: drinking too much can disrupt your sleep cycle and make you feel groggy during the day. When we're tired, our brains don't work as well as they should. Alcohol also has an effect on dopamine levels in the brain—a chemical involved with feelings of happiness and pleasure—which could impact your mental health.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Alcohol on the Brain

4. Never challenging your brain

If you are not challenging your brain enough, it will get lazy and eventually give up on trying to function at all—like an old dog who hasn't been out for a walk in weeks and stops going out at all.

Here are some ways you can keep your mental muscles in shape and teach an old dog new tricks:

  • Take up a new hobby or learn something new (like learning another language).

  • Do puzzles or games that require logic and reasoning skills (for example Sudoku).

  • Play board games like chess or Go—just make sure not to get too addicted!

Related: What Are The Top Exercises For Your Brain?

5. Missing out on quality sleep

If you’re one of those people who thinks sleep is overrated, wake up and smell the coffee. Sleep makes it to the list of the 7 worst habits for your brain because it's CRUCIAL for brain health.

Studies show that sleep helps your brain to repair itself, grow new neurons, consolidate memories and process information. It also helps regulate emotions so that they don’t get out of control when you’re awake. Get enough shut-eye, and you might even find you're more of a morning person than you thought.

Related: How To Get More Deep Sleep: 6 Easy Tips

6. Not staying hydrated

Your brain cells are made up of about 75% water, and they need constant hydration to stay healthy. Studies have found that dehydration can impact cognitive functions such as memory and attention and can significantly impact your emotional well-being.

So how much water should you drink each day? According to the Mayo Clinic, men should drink about 13 cups (3 litres) of total beverages per day and women should consume 9 cups (2.2 litres). If you don't want them all from plain old H2O check out these alternatives:

  • Coconut water has high levels of potassium and magnesium—both important for cognitive health—as well as antioxidants that protect against free radical damage in your body's cells and tissues (including your brain!)

  • Green tea contains caffeine

Related: What Does Water Do For The Brain?

7. You're always multitasking

Multitasking is so last decade. It's 2022 and we're all about mono-tasking here.

Multitasking isn't only bad for productivity, leading to a long list of half-completed tasks, it makes for a frazzled and burnt-out brain too. As you rapidly switch between activities your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. This increases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and makes a nice recipe for brain fog.

Related: The Four-Step Brain Fog Fix

It's never too late to start building healthy brain habits!

There you have it, these are the seven worst habits for your brain. Don't worry if this list looks a little too familiar. It's never too late to start building healthy brain habits. There are a number of things you can do to improve your brain health at any age, and even if you've already developed some bad habits, it’s never too late to start fresh.


Know your own mind?

The average brain health score is 51/100. Take our 3-minute quiz to learn how yours measures up and how to boost it.

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