8 Tips On How to Improve Memory
We all forget things once in a while. Losing your keys, forgetting items from your grocery list, or not remembering the name of that one actor you like… You know, that one, from that movie, with that thing… And trying to recall a fact that you know you know, but just can pull up in the moment… I know I can relate to these examples, and I have a feeling you can, too. Although memory loss is fairly common, it can still be embarrassing, frustrating and a waste of time. So today I’m going to provide some tips on how to improve memory and ways to sharpen your mind.
The mind is complicated and still barely understood. As such, there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing memory loss or dementia. However, we know certain habits can help keep your brain functions healthy. Try incorporating these simple ways to improve memory into your daily routines as a means to improving mood, efficiency and productivity. Further, take note to recognize when it may be appropriate to seek help for memory loss.
1. Stay Physically Active
As we all know, the blood in our circulatory system delivers oxygen and other nutrients to -and transports waste from- our cells. Physical activity increases blood flow to your whole body, including your brain. Therefore, exercise can help keep your memory sharp by boosting brain health.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends each healthy adult get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking. Alternatively, 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging or high-intensity weight training, would suffice. But this is just the minimum! Working out more is highly encouraged for both your physical and mental health. Ideally, you should spread this exercise throughout the week. If you don’t have time for a full workout, squeeze in a few 10-minute walks throughout the day.
2. Stay Mentally Active
In addition to the blood flow mentioned above, physical exercise helps keep your body in shape. Similarly, mental exercise helps keep your brain in shape and ready to perform. Click here to learn more about the “ABC’s of Mental Health Exercise“. Some examples of mentally-stimulating activities that may help keep memory loss at bay are:
– Doing crossword puzzles.
– Playing bridge and other strategic card games.
– Practice concentration exercises.
– Taking alternate routes when driving.
– Learning to play a musical instrument.
– Volunteering at a local school or community organization.
3. Stay Socially Active
Did you know that depression and stress can both contribute to memory loss? Unfortunately, it’s true. But one of the best ways to ward off these problems is social interaction. So look for opportunities to get together with friends, family, and other social groups. This is especially important for those who live alone. You can even “kill two birds with one stone” if your social partner(s) are also your workout or volunteer buddy. If you’re looking for fun things to do with your friends during these socially-distanced times, check out our “Hangin’ Out” series.
4. Do More to Reduce Stress
Since stress is so prolific these days, we should give extra attention to defusing it. To start, I’ll once again refer back to staying physically active. Exercise is a great stress-reliever in itself, but it also encourages your body to release endorphins, which further calm your nerves. But you can also reduce anxiety by becoming less active. And by this I mean relaxing with habits such as:
– Meditation about life, the Heart Sutra, or nothing at all.
– Reading calming phrases and books that please you.
– Yoga and stretching and remembering to Enjoy Today.
– Niksen – the art of doing nothing.
– Hygge – enjoying the simple comforts in life.
– Wabi-Sabi – finding pleasure and perfection in imperfection.
5. Get Your Zzz’s
Of all the tips on how to improve memory, this is my favorite. Sleep is the best! Plus, this one is a “two fer”… First, as mentioned, stress impacts the ability to recall memories and think clearly. But stress is reduced by good, restful sleep. Secondly, sleep plays an important role in helping you consolidate your memories. This process helps you store your memories from the day so you can recall them later. As such, you should make getting enough sleep a priority. Per current research, in order to perform optimally most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep each day.
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6. Get Organized
People often say that the state of your bedroom or home (or even your purse) reflects your state of mind. What this implies is: if your home is cluttered and in disarray, then your mind likely is, too. And of course, a messy mind will have a much harder time efficiently pulling memories and thinking critically. So here are ways to help stay organized:
A place for everything, and everything in its place
Basically, designate a place for things like your keys, wallet, glasses, and anything else you consider essential. If you return these items to “their place” each day, you won’t need to waste time figuring out where you placed them last.
Lists are an extremely useful tool to help keep your tasks -and your progress on them- organized. Record your to-dos, appointments and other events in a small notebook, calendar or electronic planner. Then keep this handy during the day and as you run errands. To reinforce your memory, try saying each entry out loud as you note it. This way, you’ll stimulate vocal and auditory memory in addition to the physical and visual experience of writing the task. You may even start remembering the listed items without having to look! And few things are as satisfying as seeing that list of items get checked off.
Our brains may be complex, but we can only truly concentrate on one or two things at a time. This especially applies when trying to record facts and memories. By focusing on only the information you’re trying to retain at the moment, you’ll be more likely to correctly recall it later. So limit distractions like TV while studying, and in general try not to do too many things at once.
** Bonus Tip! **
Memory can be boosted by association. Using this concept, connect what you’re trying to retain with another familiar concept, or to a favorite song. Also, don’t underestimate the powerful role smell can have in creating and invoking memories.
7. Eat a Healthy Diet
A balanced and healthy diet is good for your entire body and is essential for good brain health. The posts linked below get into the details of the micronutrients you need and their sources, as well as how to check if you are eating a balanced diet. But the “quick and easy” summary might be:
– Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
– Choose low-fat protein sources like fish, beans and skinless poultry.
– Include foods that boost memory.
– Limit alcohol, as it can lead to confusion and memory loss.
– Oh, and drugs can definitely impact memory formation and recollection, too.
Related Posts About Building A Balanced Diet:
- What Is A Balanced Diet Anyway? (With a tool to check your diet!)
- What Are Micronutrients, and Why Do We Need Them?
- Foods That Are Good For the Brain, and Nootropics to Boost Cognition
- All About Carbs and the Keto Diet
- Our recipes!
8. Manage Chronic Conditions That Affect Memory
As hinted at by the diet comments above, the better you take care of yourself, the better your memory is likely to be. Unfortunately, sometimes we fall ill despite best efforts, and sometimes these conditions can negatively and drastically impact memory. Therefore, follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations for medical conditions, such as depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and hearing loss. And of course, they are your best resource when it comes to dealing with even tougher memory-affecting diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Also, be sure to regularly review your medications with your doctor. Certain medications can affect memory, so you’ll want to work on a prescription plan that has the least negative impact.
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- Luteolin from artichoke extract inhibits PDE4, which is an enzyme that breaks down your neurotransmitter molecules. In return you can expect increased cognition, improved long term memory, increased wakefulness, and neuroprotection.
- Forskolin is a traditional plant derivative that supports production and health of neurotransmitters.
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is involved in energy metabolism and mitochondrial protection, so helps combat feelings of brain fog and fatigue.
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– Improved memory.
– Enhanced ability to study and learn new information.
– Improved concentration and alertness.
– Increased motivation and mental endurance.
– Improved mood and social ease.
You should notice that not only do these effects help with memory, but they also help with attentiveness! So almost like a 2-for-1 deal, you’ll be better prepared to pay attention and form new memories (short-term and long-term), and you’ll be better at remembering them when you need to!
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Seeking Help For Memory Loss
I don’t count this as an official tip, but also: don’t be afraid to seek help. You know your body and brain the best. However, you may not know how to -or be able to- help yourself. So if you feel like your memory is getting worse or you’re having trouble completing regular activities, talk to your physician. They will likely do a physical exam, and then check your memory and problem-solving skills. They can then diagnose the cause of your memory loss, and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
As always, I hope you’ve found the above information to be interesting and useful. Let us know if you have any questions, or if you have any other tips on how to improve memory. Remember to drop your comments below! Thanks!
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