Tag Archives: Brain

A Memory Champion’s Best Mental Trick for Remembering Where You Put Your Keys

If you’re tired of misplacing your keys around the house, this explosive memory trick will help you remember. All you need is a little imagination.

In this video from the Business Insider YouTube channel, Ron White, world record holder and two-time National Memory Champion, shares his trick for keeping his keys from getting lost. White suggests we misplace keys and other everyday objects because we go on mental autopilot, especially after a long day. To combat that, you need to find a way to focus on the moment you set something down.

For keys, White recommends you imagine they’re a small bomb that goes off wherever you toss them. For example, if you stick them on the counter, imagine a chunk of the counter top getting blasted out and your cabinets catching fire. This makes your brain focus on the moment of placement and associates a visual memory with a distinct physical location. After all, you can’t imagine how your coffee table might blow up if your brain doesn’t take a moment to study the environment first. Now when you need your keys, you’ll go “Oh yeah, I blew up the nightstand a few hours ago.”

http://lifehacker.com/5897708/how-to…

A national memory champion explains how to never misplace your keys ever again | YouTube

Why We Get Headaches From Exercise

Why We Get Headaches From Exercise

Headaches happen for myriad reasons: dehydration, eyestrain, drinking a wee bit much the previous night, and exercising. Yes, exercise too, and they’re just as annoying as any other headache. Here’s the difference between exercise headaches and regular head pains, and how you can best treat or avoid them.

Exercise headaches are actually pretty common, and they’re especially sucky since you don’t even have to do anything particularly rough to get them. In fact, they’re enough of an issue to be included as a headache trigger in International Headache Society’s (IHS) classification of headache disorders. Previously they were referred to as exertional headaches, a broad and varied category of headaches that were also associated with coughing, sneezing, and intercourse.

According to the IHS classification, exercise headaches are headaches that occur specifically during or after any form of strenuous exercise. They typically last between five minutes and less than 48 hours and can get pretty severe. You’ll often feel a throbbing-like pain, which could feel like a migraine if you’re sensitive to migraines.

http://lifehacker.com/5982052/the-be…

Not everyone gets exercise headaches though, and some people get them more than others. We’re still not clear on why they happen, mainly because headaches in general are so complex and can stem from any number of factors. Some researchers surmise the origin of exercise headaches may have to do with how hard exercise impacts blood flow to your brain and dilates the blood vessels there. We do know that they’re more likely to happen if you exercise in hot temperatures or at higher elevations, or even when you wear special gear, like swim goggles, on too tight of a setting.

A two-part study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine explained that there are no differences in the prevalence of exercise headaches between men and women, just that their occurrence seems to be more sport specific. Exercise headaches are more commonly associated with running, cycling, weightlifting (a.k.a. “weightlifter’s” headache), swimming, rowing, tennis, and many contact sports.

Make Sure It’s Not Something More Serious

Here’s the tricky thing about figuring out if your exercise headache points to something worrisome. The IHS lumps these and the other exertional-type headaches into categories of primary and secondary headaches. In general, primary headaches happen spontaneously for no obvious medical reason and are mostly benign. More likely, they’re the result of your environment, genetics, and a combination of other complex variables.

With exercise headaches, for instance, they could be a combination of dehydration, bright lights, strong smells, humid weather, the nature of the sport, and simply that you’re more prone to headaches in general.

A secondary headache, on the other hand, could be related to other hidden, more serious diseases and conditions, and the headache is just a symptom. They’re less common than primary headaches, but are still a real possibility. There are no specific tests to say your headache is “just a headache”, only tests to rule out other more troubling causes.

There are, however, certain warning signs for secondary headaches: Suddenly getting a new and unaccustomed (severe) headache, a worsening headache that lasts days, vomiting, confusion, and drowsiness could indicate a serious condition like a concussion. If this is your first time getting a headache from exercise and you play sports where there’s a bit of head trauma involved (constantly headbutting a soccer ball, for example), play it safe and get it checked out by a doctor, preferably a neurologist who specializes in sports-related injuries.

http://vitals.lifehacker.com/what-to-do-if-…

Since headache triggers are often mysterious and certain things can be unintentionally overlooked, you can help yourself and your doctor narrow down the causes by keeping a headache diary, where you consistently note when and why you think your headaches are happening.

Tips to Keep Exercise Headaches From Bothering You

The good news is that exercise headaches stop…once you stop exercising so hard. But for some of us athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and anyone on the path to better health, that’s the same as telling us to stop breathing.

So, if you’d rather not stop exercising altogether, you can lessen the intensity of your exercise program and make it lower impact (less jumping and explosive type activities) to see if the headaches still come on strongly. In really bad cases, it’d help to work together with a certified trainer on figuring out the types of exercises and positions that provoke or exacerbate your headache, and creating a program to work around them that still gives you a workout.

In addition, the findings from this study in the Current Sports Medicine Reports suggest a proper warm-up and making sure you’ve got the other “big rocks” of your general health in order, like your diet, recovery time, and overall stress levels could help. After all, a chronic lack of sleep, a crappy diet, or even previously undetected food allergies can all play a role in triggering nasty migraines and headaches.

http://lifehacker.com/5851491/reliev…

Assuming your headaches aren’t more serious in nature, here are some other ways to address them:

  • Medication: Although the evidence they use is anecdotal, the IHS suggests trying prescription NSAIDs from your doctor, such as indomethacin and ergotamine tartrate, and taking them before exercise. Ibuprofen could work, but it’s not recommended for use on a regular basis. Check with your doctor to see if it’s safe for you to take these as a preventative measure.
  • Breathing more: In some cases, your headache could be from a rise in blood pressure during heavy weightlifting and generally holding your breath more than you could manage, intentionally or not. Avoid doing full Valsalva breathing techniques and try to remember to breathe out forcefully during exertion.
  • Eating and drinking before a workout: For some people, headaches can be a result of not being hydrated and/or eating enough before exercise. Be sure to drink enough water throughout the day, especially before and during your workout if you’re going to be exercising for longer periods of time.

Most active people have had to deal with exercise headaches in one form or another. For many, these headaches tend to recur over weeks to months and eventually go away, but in rarer cases these headaches may never resolve, the authors of a paper in the journal Sports Medicine noted.

Primary exercise headaches are not dangerous in and of themselves, but it’s important to get your head pain properly diagnosed by your doctor. Then, you can work with your doctor to come up with a firmer action plan to manage your headaches if needed.

Illustration by Sam Woolley.

You Don’t Have a Procrastination Problem, You Have an Impulsivity Problem

You Don't Have a Procrastination Problem, You Have an Impulsivity Problem

Procrastination is like bad signal or crappy Wi-Fi. Everyone deals with it, but most of us don’t understand how it works. Here’s the key: It’s not that you have a problem saying yes to the thing you’re supposed to be doing right now. The problem is you can’t say no to everything else.

Procrastination manifests itself in a variety of ways, but they all have one thing in common: they come from an impulsive tendency to do what feels easier, rather than the thing you know you should be doing. Some people get distracted by unimportant to-dos like cleaning the bathroom or doing the dishes instead of focusing on the important thing you should be doing right now. Others spend hours reading pointless stuff on Facebook, rather than being productive. Some even procrastinate because they have perfectly reasonable fears about the thing they’re putting off!

Whether it’s focusing on the important work, closing the Facebook tab, or dealing with a big looming problem, the procrastinator avoids the thing they know is better for them in the long run. The reason this happens is found in how your brain handles impulsivity.

http://lifehacker.com/sometimes-proc…

How Impulsivity Works In Your Brain

Thanks to TV and movies, you probably think of an impulsive person as someone who’s dangerous or takes a lot of risks. While risky behavior can be a symptom of impulsivity, the truth is more subtle. In reality, impulsivity simply means that you act immediately on your impulses. When the mood strikes you to do something, you do it. Your actions are largely dictated by whatever your most immediate desire is, regardless of the long-term consequences of that action.

As behavioral researchers Martial Van der Linden and Mathieu d’Acremont detailed in a 2005 study, published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, impulsivity is generally characterized by four broad characteristics:

  • Urgency: A person feels the need to accomplish a task right now.
  • Lack of premeditation: A person acts without thinking or planning ahead.
  • Lack of perseverance: A person will give up on a long-term task quickly.
  • Sensation seeking: A person decides which tasks to pursue based on how good it makes them feel.

Individually, we all experience these things to some extent. However, an impulsive mind has trouble managing these motivations. What you end up with is a person who can quickly get derailed from the thing they know they should do with whatever feels good. The new impulse you just had right now feels exactly as urgent as the task you’ve known about all week. Planning ahead doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you do what you feel like doing right now.

Impulsivity is a key trait in a lot of neurological disorders, including ADHD and substance abuse. A person with ADHD can get easily distracted by a passing thought because saying what’s on their mind or fiddling with some random toy feels more important than the work they’re doing. For a person with a substance abuse problem, the desire to get more of their preferred drug outweighs the long-term consequences they know exist. The immediate impulse overrides everything else.

How Impulsivity Affects Your Productivity

Not all impulsive behavior is universally bad. The problem comes when you can’t stop acting on impulse. For example, consider the following scenario:

You’re sitting at your desk, trying to work on those TPS reports. Your phone buzzes with a new Facebook message, so you open up a new tab and read it. While you’re there, you see something funny on your feed, so you read it and keep scrolling. You find an interesting article, so you spend the next ten minutes reading it. You get to the comments and see someone said something stupid, so obviously you have to correct them. You glance up at the clock and realize you’ve wasted a half hour on absolutely nothing.

At four different times in that story, some external stimulus caused a distraction that led to immediate action at the expense of your better judgment. Your phone buzzing, the funny picture on Facebook, the interesting article, and the stupid comment all seemed more important at the time than doing your work. If you’re not able to put on the brakes and say “I don’t need to do this pointless thing right now,” your impulsivity can devour your productivity. Worse yet, the effect compounds on itself. Since you couldn’t ignore your phone buzzing, you opened yourself up to three more distractions that you never would’ve experienced in the first place if you had simply ignored (or disabled) that first buzz from your phone.

That ability to put on the brakes when you start to get distracted is essential to reining in your impulsivity. You probably have the ability to sit down and make yourself focus on your work (and a hard deadline will prove it). The skill you need to hone may not be that you need to focus more on the work at hand, but ignoring or putting off the immediate impulses that feel more important than they are.

http://lifehacker.com/5898661/the-ul…

What You Can Do About It

Impulsivity affects a lot of different aspects of your personality. “Fixing” impulsivity is a bit like “fixing” anger. Sometimes being angry is totally called for, but when it’s out of control it can cause serious problems. In the same way, you can think of impulsivity as an aspect of your personality to manage, rather than to cure. That said, here are some things you can do to be less impulsive.

Practice Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness is the practice of simply being fully aware in the moment. It means you’re aware of what you’re doing, what your mind is thinking of, and what you intend to do. Mindfulness includes paying attention to your thoughts and controlling them, rather than letting them dictate your actions. Naturally, people who have an impulsivity problem struggle with this. They’re easily distracted from the moment and can let a single thought derail them, rather than recognizing it as a distracting thought. Fortunately, mindfulness is something you can practice.

If you really have an impulsivity problem, this will probably feel like torture, but it helps. Mindfulness isn’t just a ritual, it’s teaching your brain how to focus. If you can’t focus on a single task for long periods of time, practicing mindfulness shows your brain what it feels like. You can practice mindfulness using an app, while doing chores, or just by learning the difference between how you feel and who you are. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come natural. It’s not supposed to, and that’s the point. Just keep practicing and over time your brain will learn how to pause when you feel an impulse coming on.

http://lifehacker.com/what-is-mindfu…

Learn Your Risk Factors and Plan Around Them

I know that I am unlikely to get distracted from my work by a video about the mating habits of mosquitoes. The next time the trailer for a Marvel movie drops, though, I can expect some lost man hours. We all have weaknesses that can easily distract us. Learning your triggers can help you preempt your impulses before they happen. To call back to the earlier example, if your phone buzzing is likely to distract you, put it in airplane mode or at least tweak your notification settings so you don’t get notified during the middle of the work day.

Give Yourself Space for Productive Distractions

Impulsivity makes you feel like if you don’t do something now, you’ll never do it. You can combat this feeling by giving yourself some space to indulge your procrastination. Rather than saying “no,” you can say “not right now” when something starts to creep into your attention span. As any good procrastinator knows, it’s easier to put something off for a while than it is to ignore it entirely. By setting aside a time period in your day to deal with all the things that distracted you, your mind feels better about not doing it immediately. Then you can focus on the task at hand.

http://lifehacker.com/5909198/uncove…

Talk to a Therapist About Your Specific Problems

Yes, seriously. If you find that you’re critically behind at work or you can’t seem to focus on anything for longer than a minute, you can talk to a therapist. While it might sound dumb or embarrassing to go to a therapist for being too distracted, it’s a common problem. Adult ADHD is real and there’s no shame in seeking help. A therapist might prescribe medicine in severe cases, but they may also simply give you a set of exercises to work on during the week and hold you accountable. This act of structured practice alone can help train your brain to control your impulses over time.


Understanding the underlying impulses that lead to distraction and procrastination can help you develop better long-term solutions. It would be nice if you could simply sit at your desk and yell “Focus!” to make yourself work harder, but that’s not going to make the random thoughts in your head go away. Instead of focusing all your effort on forcing one train of thought through the station, practice keeping the tracks clear of all the other distractions first.


Make a “Shutdown Ritual” So You Can Actually Relax At Night

Make a "Shutdown Ritual" So You Can Actually Relax At Night

Most of us are probably pretty bad at sleep to begin with. At the least, do yourself a favor and start a “shutdown ritual” so your brain knows it’s time to relax.

As tips site Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, your brain needs an adjustment period to get out of work mode. Otherwise you’ll keep going and going until you just pass out in bed. By establishing a shutdown ritual, you can wind down the activities of the day and let your brain know it’s time to get into a different mode:

Workday is over. But your mind is still going and going and going. You gotta get your brain out of “work mode” to relax. A simple ritual can help. Have a consistent little routine that let’s your overactive brain know “we’re done.” Research shows writing down what you need to do the next day relieves anxiety and helps you enjoy your evening.

Ideally, your ritual will involve wrapping up the tasks you haven’t finished and planning for the next day’s events. Once you’ve gotten everything handled, you can relax without worrying. However, your ritual should fit you. So whatever helps you chill out at the end of the day, just be sure to do it consistently. Over time, your brain will get with the program.

The 7 Step Evening Ritual That Will Make You Happy | Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Photo by Megan Leetz.

Stop Feeling Guilty About Your Indulgences to Get the Most Out of Them

Stop Feeling Guilty About Your Indulgences to Get the Most Out of Them

We all have little indulgences we know we shouldn’t take part in. The concert we shouldn’t have spent money on, the ice cream that breaks our diet. It’s fine to want to break those habits, but if you’re indulging a little, don’t beat yourself up with guilt.

As personal finance writer Tawcan explains, indulging in a guilty pleasure isn’t the same as forming a bad habit. A guilty pleasure is temporarily breaking a good habit to give yourself a treat. A bad habit is when those treats are the norm, in place of a good habit. If you really are indulging a guilty pleasure, though, leave out the guilt. All you do is ruin the psychological benefit of indulging, by beating yourself up over it:

So when you’re eating that piece of delicious cheesecake with ice cream on the side and telling yourself that you’re having some guilty pleasure, you’re telling your subconscious mind that you’re eating guilt. Consciously you may feel good, but subconsciously you are making yourself feeling worse and worse.

Instead of spending a solid 2+ hours watching a movie in the theater, having a good time, and not being disturbed, you’re telling your subconscious that you’re watching guilt and you’re missing out on all the different tasks that you’re supposed to do. You feel guilty for spending money on the movie ticket and feel guilty for not managing your time efficiently.

This is a delicate line to walk, because justifying too many bad behaviors can turn into a bad habit real fast. However, if you’re making conscious decisions about how to spend your time or bend your rules, make those decisions with conviction. Don’t just buy indulge the impulse to buy a movie ticket and then feel bad that you spent the money the entire time you’re in the theater. Buy it, enjoy the film, and come back to your responsible life refreshed.

Guilty pleasure | Tawcan via Rockstar Finance

Photo by bark.

Three Things You Can Do to Grow More Brain Cells

Growing more brain cells is possible, and it all comes down to a few simple lifestyle choices.

In this video from the TED YouTube channel, neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret explains how are brains can grow new brain cells through neurogenesis. The more active neurogenesis is for you, the more likely you’ll have a better mood, increased memory formation, and be able to fight off the decline associated with aging. Here are three things Thuret suggests will help you grow more brain cells:

  1. Learning
  2. Sex
  3. Running

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? There some things that can decrease neurogenesis, however. Getting older causes a natural decline, but stress, sleep deprivation, and having a poor diet can make things much worse. It all comes down to keeping active and maintaining a somewhat healthy lifestyle. A healthy body means a healthy mind.

You Can Grow New Brain Cells. Here’s How | YouTube

Three Things You Can Do to Grow More Brain Cells

Growing more brain cells is possible, and it all comes down to a few simple lifestyle choices.

In this video from the TED YouTube channel, neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret explains how are brains can grow new brain cells through neurogenesis. The more active neurogenesis is for you, the more likely you’ll have a better mood, increased memory formation, and be able to fight off the decline associated with aging. Here are three things Thuret suggests will help you grow more brain cells:

  1. Learning
  2. Sex
  3. Running

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? There some things that can decrease neurogenesis, however. Getting older causes a natural decline, but stress, sleep deprivation, and having a poor diet can make things much worse. It all comes down to keeping active and maintaining a somewhat healthy lifestyle. A healthy body means a healthy mind.

You Can Grow New Brain Cells. Here’s How | YouTube

Three Things You Can Do to Grow More Brain Cells

Growing more brain cells is possible, and it all comes down to a few simple lifestyle choices.

In this video from the TED YouTube channel, neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret explains how are brains can grow new brain cells through neurogenesis. The more active neurogenesis is for you, the more likely you’ll have a better mood, increased memory formation, and be able to fight off the decline associated with aging. Here are three things Thuret suggests will help you grow more brain cells:

  1. Learning
  2. Sex
  3. Running

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? There some things that can decrease neurogenesis, however. Getting older causes a natural decline, but stress, sleep deprivation, and having a poor diet can make things much worse. It all comes down to keeping active and maintaining a somewhat healthy lifestyle. A healthy body means a healthy mind.

You Can Grow New Brain Cells. Here’s How | YouTube

Three Things You Can Do to Grow More Brain Cells

Growing more brain cells is possible, and it all comes down to a few simple lifestyle choices.

In this video from the TED YouTube channel, neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret explains how are brains can grow new brain cells through neurogenesis. The more active neurogenesis is for you, the more likely you’ll have a better mood, increased memory formation, and be able to fight off the decline associated with aging. Here are three things Thuret suggests will help you grow more brain cells:

  1. Learning
  2. Sex
  3. Running

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? There some things that can decrease neurogenesis, however. Getting older causes a natural decline, but stress, sleep deprivation, and having a poor diet can make things much worse. It all comes down to keeping active and maintaining a somewhat healthy lifestyle. A healthy body means a healthy mind.

You Can Grow New Brain Cells. Here’s How | YouTube

Three Things You Can Do to Grow More Brain Cells

Growing more brain cells is possible, and it all comes down to a few simple lifestyle choices.

In this video from the TED YouTube channel, neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret explains how are brains can grow new brain cells through neurogenesis. The more active neurogenesis is for you, the more likely you’ll have a better mood, increased memory formation, and be able to fight off the decline associated with aging. Here are three things Thuret suggests will help you grow more brain cells:

  1. Learning
  2. Sex
  3. Running

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? There some things that can decrease neurogenesis, however. Getting older causes a natural decline, but stress, sleep deprivation, and having a poor diet can make things much worse. It all comes down to keeping active and maintaining a somewhat healthy lifestyle. A healthy body means a healthy mind.

You Can Grow New Brain Cells. Here’s How | YouTube