We have all had moments when we can’t seem to remember things – where the car keys were left, an item you wanted to pick up at the grocery store, a person’s name, the title of the book you are reading, and sometimes the most disturbing of all – why you got up and walked into another room.
Today’s blog is about improving your memory, complete with tips and ideas for making those improvements.
How Memory Works
According to Harvard Health Publishing at Harvard Medical School, memory involves three processes: encoding, recording, and retrieval. The brain receives and encodes (takes in) new information; the brain then records (stores) the information; finally, the brain retrieves information when you need it.
In their 50s, people notice a change in their memory. Chemical and structural changes can begin in the hippocampus or frontal lobes, brain regions used in memory processing. The brain area used for a scratch pad – the working memory – is susceptible to anxiety, stress, and depression. Another factor is medications that have sedating side effects.
Give Your Brain a Workout
Use it or lose it are the key words for memory. Working out your brain will allow you to process and remember information. Break your routine and challenge yourself with your brain exercises.
Elements for Good Brain Boosting Exercise
- Teaches you something new – unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone.
- Is challenging – demands your full attention.
- Allows you to build on it – starting easy and with levels of increased activity.
- Is rewarding – while challenging are still enjoyable and satisfying.
Add Physical Exercise
Yes, breaking a sweat also improves your memory by increasing the oxygen to the brain and reducing the risks of disease that impacts memory. Not to mention enhancing the effects of helpful brain chemicals and reducing stress hormones.
- Aerobic exercise is particularly good for the brain
- Hand-eye coordination or complex motor skills are particularly beneficial for brain building.
- Helps get past mental fatigue and afternoon slumps.
We’re talking about the amount of sleep you need to function at your best, not simply get by. Skimping on sleep impacts memory, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking skills.
- Get on a regular sleep schedule – to bed and getting up at the same times each day.
- Turn off your screens an hour before you go to bed. Electronics have a blue light that is disruptive to sleep
Brain Enemy #1
Not surprisingly, the top enemy of your memory is stress. Destroying brain cells and damaging the region of the brain that forms new memories and retrieves stored memory is a result of chronic stress.
Manage stress by:
- Having breaks, especially when you’re feeling stress creeping up on you.
- Keeping your feelings bottled up? Uncork them – a sure stress reliever.
- Multi-tasking is another stressor. Do one task at a time instead.
- Saying “no” occasionally as you set realistic expectations.
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Sources: Harvard Health Publishing, Health Guide