How to Easily Improve Your Memory
Improve your memory with these tried and true techniques.
Oh, if you only had the memory of a child! Kids can memorize and remember facts so easily. They remember conversations you had months ago, nail down their times tables in a matter of days, and spout off the bones of the body as if it’s no big deal.
Well, you may not consider yourself to be elderly, but that doesn’t mean your brain is working at the speed of kid. Seeing an old friend and not being able to remember her name or being unable to recall a phone number you’ve dialed so many times are unnerving experiences.
Yes, aging plays a role in memory loss. Each passing decade, the part of the brain responsible for memory (the hippocampus) shrinks five percent. In addition, as you age, your body produces less and less of a key neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory.
However, these facts shouldn’t depress you. Your brain still has the power to learn and retain new information. By incorporating the following techniques into your daily life, you can enhance your memory capabilities.
Exercise Your Mind
Muscles that don’t get used will shrink and turn to flab. The same goes for your brain. A strong mind is one that’s used a lot. Sitting on the couch watching TV all day isn’t going to do much for your brain. In order to keep your memory sharp, do activities that stimulate your mind. Do a daily crossword or sudoku puzzle, read the newspaper, practice a musical instrument, volunteer in the community (communicating with others and facing new situations helps your brain), and play online brain-training games.
Exercise Your Body
Regular physical activity is vital for a strong, healthy brain. Obesity increases your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, both which are responsible for damaging your brain. Clogged arteries strain your heart and prevent adequate amounts of blood to flow to the brain. Exercise combats this by increasing blood flow to all parts of the body and delivering the oxygen and nutrients the body needs for optimal functioning.
Don’t believe it? Research has shown that people who exercise have bigger brains! Get 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week and your brain will stay as large as possible. Go for a walk, ride a bike, or go swimming—whatever you prefer. Just get moving!
Long-term stress, anger, anxiety, and depression are harmful to the areas in your brain that handle memory. One symptom of depression is trouble concentrating. Without concentration, you’ll have trouble learning new things and will forget things.
Depression and other stressors increase the body’s production of cortisol. High levels of this hormone diminish the size of the hippocampus. If you’re depressed, talk with your doctor about treatment options and learn healthy ways to manage the other stress in your life.
Have a Drink…or Two
The connection between alcohol and memory is complicated. Too much alcohol can have an immediate negative effect on brain function, and abusing alcohol damages your brain cells. On the other hand, if you are able to drink in moderation, go for it. A drink or two a day for men and women who are not pregnant is actually beneficial to memory and cognition. Studies have shown that one to two glasses of wine a day may reduce your risk for developing Alzheimer’s by 45 percent.
Go to Bed Earlier
Getting enough hours of quality sleep each night is a great way to improve your memory skills. It’s during sleep that your brain registers short-term memories into long-term ones. Additionally, as you sleep, cerebrospinal fluid is busy flushing toxins out of the brain to keep the brain healthy. It’s no wonder that you’re more able to stay focused, energized, and on the ball when you’re getting plenty of shuteye.
Seek Help When Needed
Slight memory lapses every now and then are disconcerting, but probably nothing to worry about. But if memory loss is interfering with your daily life and causing you anxiety, see your doctor.