When you were a kid, did anyone ever tell you that TV would rot your brain? Well, that's child's play, folks, because according to new research, Instagram will eat it. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
We hate to hate on the OG IG (we do love ourselves a good scroll down Procrastination Lane), but social media in general is wreaking some serious havoc on our thinky parts. According to a review published by the World Psychiatric Association, social media (in addition to making us more anxious and depressed) has the same effect on our brains as age-related cognitive decline. That's right, while we might look young and Clarendon-cute, our #nofilter brains are looking old as fuck.
The problem is that all of that scrolling robs the brain of one of the most important things it can do to keep fit: think. Instead, it's just reacting to whatever it's seeing. Sure, we might be better at processing information than we were twenty years ago, but that doesn't mean we're retaining it–or doing anything with it at all, actually. What is happening: our brains are being tortured with information overload, resulting in brain fog, inability to make decisions, retain willpower, and, simply put, to think.
But (and we hope you'll appreciate the irony here) thanks to all of the information out there, we've collected a list of ways to get your brain back in shape and even surpass where it once was. Ready? Get Set. Focus.
Remember a couple of years ago when "being busy" was really cool? And then suddenly someone was like, "that's actually not cool, that's sad, you should be enjoying life," and then BAM, our feeds are filled with people that don't look like they do anything all day except enjoy life–and themselves–perhaps a bit too much? Maybe boredom will go through a similar reverse rebranding and become cool–because it should. Boredom is simply the brain's way of trying to scratch an itch for stimulus, and when it can't, it works even harder. According to a study published in the journal Academy of Management Discoveries, boredom is the key to problem-solving, productivity, and creativity. But (thanks in large part to our phones) we're not allowing ourselves to be bored. Waiting in line at the grocery store has become a prime opportunity for a dopamine hit from social media; zoning out during our daily commute has been replaced with a pleasant distraction from a podcast. So what to do? Put down the phone. And if going whole hog with a digital detox is asking too much, try letting your mind wander for five minutes a day. You might be surprised at what you come up with.
Working up a sweat can help your brain look good in that swimsuit too. Not only does it help deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your body, but it also creates new brain cells, especially in the hippocampus, which plays a significant role in learning and memory.
Eat Brain Food
Fatty fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that help build brain and nerve cells in charge of learning and memory and protect against cognitive decline. The antioxidants in blueberries can help improve communication between brain cells. And the flavonoids found in dark chocolate have been shown to boost memory and slow age-related mental decline. The list doesn't stop there, though: turmeric, pumpkin seeds, and broccoli have all been shown to play a part in boosting brain function, so if you want to smarten up, eat up.
Play Mind Games
Whether it's jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, or Sudoku, participating in cognitively stimulating activities can improve memory and strengthen focus. Looking for something a little less grandpa-y? Head to Vegas. A 2015 study found that card games can enhance memory and improve cognitive function. Just make sure you don’t cancel out all of your hard work with too many brain cell-depleting extracurricular activities.
Drink Coffee. And Mushrooms.
In our line of work, coffee is quite literally the reason we get out of bed in the morning. Not only does caffeine improve cognitive function, but functional mushrooms have been shown to enhance learning and reduce memory loss in mice, even possibly slowing the symptoms of Alzheimer's. And if coffee’s not your thing, try our organic mushroom chocolate bar, which combines the benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms, caffeine and dark chocolate all in one tasty square of deliciousness.
And that brings today’s lesson to a close. Hopefully we’re all a bit smarter than we were when we started this post. Now let’s shut off our screens and do nothing for five minutes. Deal?