Have you ever found that you can remember the words to a song from when you were five-years-old, but can’t remember what you had for breakfast or where you put your cell phone 10 minutes ago? Believe me, we’ve all been there. Or perhaps you’ve suddenly lost your glasses yet you just put them on top of your head. Or you arrive at a grocery store for one item, and leave with five more items but forgot to get the thing you came to the store to buy in the first place. The list of examples goes on and on! ;-)
Memory retention can be a challenge at any age, but particularly the older you get and the more you have to keep track of, the more you may require some life hacks to improve your memory - certainly that’s true for me!
Brain health is key to having a healthier, more successful life and memory - so why is it often the most neglected or the least discussed when it comes to health?
It used to be that the general belief was there were no methods for improving your memory and once it started to go, there wasn’t much to be done to change it. Can you imagine?
But now, of course, we know that the brain has the ability to grow new cells and form new neural connections.
But that doesn’t happen by itself - like anything else, you need to do your part to maintain peak brain health.
So, I’ve put together 10 mental hacks that will boost your memory:
1) Fish oil
Omega 3 is at the top of every list of improving brain health and memory, and fish oil is rich with it. You can either get fish oil supplements or eat fish - whatever works for you.
2) Get enough sleep
Another list-topper for everything health related! Rest is important for everything, but a must for memory and brain health. So do what you can to make sure you get the recommended 8-hours per night!
3) Practice mindfulness meditation
Research shows that mindfulness can increase the density of the hippocampus - which is the part of the brain that’s connected to learning and memory. In short, mindful meditation changes brain structure. Give it a try!
4) Brain fitness apps
There are plenty of apps out there to help you “train your brain”. A few of my favorites are Luminosity, Elevate, and Peak. Search around and find one that works for you.
Music therapy is one of the most used techniques for dementia patients because of the way it lights up the neural pathways and stimulates the connections between both sides of the brain. It also has a profound connection to our personal memories. And, aside from brain health, music is a great way to get yourself into a happy mood!
6) Be social
This is not something I would have thought contributed to helping memory, but studies have shown that an active social life can help to delay memory loss. Memory tests in older patients have shown that an active social life shows a decline in memory loss. So no better time to join a meet-up group, make plans with friends, say “yes” to party invitations, and volunteer for causes that matter to you.
No, scrolling through your phone or tablet doesn’t quite count ;-). I’m talking about reading books. Of course, if you have books downloaded on your device, that’s different. But an actual book and not just a short article. A book that takes time, focus, and requires your attention. A book that gets you invested and engaged and that you can disappear into. That’s the kind of reading that will push your brain to work at a higher capacity.
8) Eat the right foods and drink coffee (strategically!)
What you ingest is one of the most important aspects of brain health and memory retention. Foods like blueberries, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate (yay!), nuts, oranges, and eggs. Use turmeric as a spice, green tea to drink, as well as coffee (in moderation, of course). The caffeine will increase your alertness, improve your mood, and sharpen your concentration.
9) Pick up a new hobby
Because there is a connection between how we learn and what we remember, one of the best ways to challenge our brains is with new stimuli. This could be anything from crossword puzzles, Scrabble, a painting class, or perhaps joining a new book club. This could also bring new people into your life, which covers the “be more social” tip I mentioned before.
10) Exercise more
Exercise, of course, affects the brain on many levels; for one, it increases the heart rate, which pumps more oxygen into the brain. It also aids the bodily release of an abundance of hormones, which provides a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.
There’s a lot here to work with, but I’m sure there is even more out there. Do you have any successful tips for improving your memory?
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Until next time!
Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.