We may control a lot of what our body does, but sometimes it rebels — whether it’s a brain freeze, a gag reflex or just bad vision. Here are our top 10 body hacks that give the power back to you.
10. Easily Swallow Stubborn Pills
If you aren’t very good at swallowing pills, you can try this trick to get them down: tilt your head forward instead of backward once its in your mouth. The capsule should float to the back of your throat, where you can swallow it easily. Image: Keith Ramsey.
9. Dilate Or Shrink Your Pupils
Being able to dilate your pupils at will can help you see the world differently, and there are a number of ways you can go about it — from tensing your stomach in different ways to just focusing on objects that are far away. Useful for affecting how others feel about you or for pulling of a major bluff in a poker game.
8. Get Rid Of Pins And Needles
We all know that tingling feeling you get when your hand or foot goes to sleep, and how annoying it is. If you get it in your hand, it’s likely a result of some nerve compression in your neck, so just move your head around for a few seconds to make the feeling dissipate. Sadly, this won’t also work for your feet — you have to get up and walk around to wake them up. Image: Namida-k.
7. Cool Off Quickly
When your body feels like its going to overheat from the scorching summer sun, you can lower your body temperature quickly using one of your body’s quick cooling spots, like your wrist or the back of your knee. Running some water over these pulse points (or, even better, wrapping them in a wet towel) can help cool down your entire body in a flash. Image: RexxS.
6. Boost Your Mental Performance
When your body’s co-operating but your brain just isn’t, you can boost your memory, attention and cognitive reasoning skills by chewing some gum. The benefits only last about 20 minutes or so, but it can be helpful for that last-minute cramming session or the end of your big exam. Incidentally, chewing gum can also relieve heartburn, too. Image: Jamiesrabbits.
5. Improve Your Vision
As silly as it may seem, you can boost your “far vision” just by making your hand into a fist and looking through it like a telescope — just like you did when you were a kid playing pirates. More interesting is using the “pirate’s method” of improving your vision at night: if you move from darkness to light, then back to darkness, keeping one eye closed, you can retain your night vision in that one eye (apparently, this is why pirates wore eye patches). If you don’t have light nearby, you can always hold your mobile phone or other lighted device up to one eye, improving the night vision of the other eye. Image: Andy Arthur.
4. Suppress The Urge To Go To The Bathroom
When you gotta go, you gotta go, but if you scratch the back of your calf vigorously, you can stall your brain and give yourself a bit more time to get to the bathroom. It’s hardly a long term solution, but when you’re in a bind — as one often is in these situations — it can be an underpants saver. Image: Gregg O’Connell.
3. Turn Off Your Gag Reflex
Dentist haters of the world unite: it seems that by making a fist and squeezing your left thumb, you can suppress your gag reflex. It’s unknown as to whether it’s a specific set of nerves in your hand or just a distraction for your brain, but either way, if you’re starting to choke, this could help you out. And, if you move your hand up a few centimetres to your wrist, you can relieve nausea by applying pressure there, too.
2. Keep Onion-Cutting Tears At Bay
When it’s time to chop up onions, you can curb the crying by pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Alternatively, you can also cut out a cone at the bottom of the onion, where most of those tear-causing juices are stored. These tricks won’t help if onions just make you sad, but if those juices are causing your eyes to tear up involuntarily, one of these should help dry your eyes. Image: Jennifer Dickert.
1. Banish Brain Freeze
One of the most annoying feelings for us ice cream and smoothie addicts is the dreaded brain freeze. Once again, though, pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth — covering as much of your mouth as you can — can keep those nerves from getting too cold, which will keep your brain from thinking its freezing as well. The more pressure you apply, the better. Image: Jayel Aheram.
We’ve featured a lot of body hacks at Lifehacker over the years, so if you have a favourite that isn’t on the list, be sure to share it with us in the comments below.