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Published on April 9, 2020

7 Best Natural Ways to Enhance Your Memory

7 Best Natural Ways to Enhance Your Memory

Everything you do requires memory. Whether it’s your everyday chores, work responsibilities, communication, or any other task in life, memory plays an important role. So, if you’re not in search of ways to enhance your memory, you should be.

If you’re someone who wants to excel in life by learning new things, enhancing your memory is extremely important for you.

Luckily, it is something that can be done. There are some simple, natural ways to boost your memory. Keep reading to find out all about these amazing tips!

Here are some of the most effective tips for enhancing memory:

1. Focus on Your Learning Style

One main reason why people want to improve their memory is for the sake of boosting their learning capacity. It is true that without a good memory, learning is a difficult task.

Your learning style is an arrow that can shoot both these targets.

There are 6 broad learning styles. Each individual falls into at least one of these. It is also rather easy to figure out your learning type by following a few steps.

Once you’re aware of your learning style, you can incorporate methods and techniques that go hand in hand with your style.

For example, if you happen to be an auditory learner, you can listen to online tutorials to gain new knowledge instead of opting for another method. Similarly, people who prefer structured learning environments can go for tutors who have a coherent teaching style.

If your brain receives information in a manner that is supported by your style, you are highly likely to retain this knowledge in the long term.

2. Add Variation to Your Learning Routine

When you start learning a new skill or get on with a new task, enthusiasm levels are rather high. This is the time when learners are so motivated that they don’t mind doing the same thing all day long.

Although it seems fun for the time being, it eventually becomes monotonous or boring.

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You should add variation to your learning routine from the get-go so that you can avoid getting to a stage where the brain loses interest in the said task or skill. Once it gets boring, it will be much more difficult to learn or remember.

Some ways to add variation are:

  • Take breaks
  • Change your location or environment every now and then
  • Add various learning tools into play
  • If you have multiple learning styles, incorporate them alternatively

3. Regulate Your Sleep Schedule

Have you ever seen a sleepy person do a good job anywhere?

It’s pretty rare. That’s because a sleepy mind is good for very little. Memory and sleep go hand in hand. Without a fresh mind, not only does learning become harder, but it also gets more annoying and seems tougher.

Also, many people retain information better if they sleep after learning something new.

Whatever the case is, never skip a good night’s sleep!

4. Practice Mindfulness

How can you remember something you weren’t paying attention to?

A human’s attention span is rather short, but it can be improved. Practice mindfulness to enhance your focus . This will, in turn, improve your memory.[1]

As humans age, memory and cognition are bound to decline. However, effective mindfulness has proven to slow down this deterioration.

You can improve your memory and concentration by following a lot of easy-to-implement tips in your daily routine. Some of the things you can do to practice mindfulness include focusing on your surroundings, being more aware of your breathing, and gaining control over the ability to shift attention from one thing to another.

5. Meditate

Here’s a secret that will change your life: You can control your brain.

How? It’s actually not even hard!

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All you have to do is play brain games and boost cognitive activity by meditating. All these help increase the gray matter in your brain. Gray matter includes neuronal cell bodies, which are technically responsible for memory.

Meditation, in general, keeps the brain calm, which helps new information get organized efficiently. It also supports mindfulness.

People who experience short-term memory loss will experience great benefits from meditation.

6. Eat Memory-Enhancing Foods

You are what you eat.

The saying is so famous for a reason. Food directly affects every single part of you. The nutrition you receive can enhance your memory immensely.

The brain is what controls your memory. Since the brain is a muscle, after all, good food will improve its strength.

Here’s what you should eat more of:

Fish Oil

Everybody and their dog knows that fish oil is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids. These fats are categorized as healthy fats.

Healthy fats are a necessary part of a balanced diet. They reduce anxiety, prevent inflammation, and contribute to the brain’s health.[2]

Elderly people who are at risk of memory loss have been proven to experience an improvement in their condition with the help of fish oil supplements.

Cocoa

How amazing is life? You’re literally being told to add delicious cocoa to your diet. You certainly can’t complain.

Just in case you need some supporting evidence because it sounds too good to be true, we’ll let you know why cocoa is so good for enhancing memory.

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It is a generous source of anti-oxidants. More importantly, cocoa encourages blood flow. Your brain will only stay healthy if it receives enough blood flow and nutrition. This is why cocoa does wonders for enhancing memory.[3]

One thing to keep in mind is that dark chocolate cocoa is more effective than white chocolate cocoa.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Did you know that inflammation is a major cause of deteriorating memory?[4]

Inflammation leads to oxidative stress, which then leads to dementia. Your mental health, in general, is at risk with inflammation.

So, it is best if you eat more anti-inflammatory foods. Fruits, vegetables, and teas are some of the best options to include in your diet.

Vitamin D

One of the most common deficiencies in patients of dementia is vitamin D. It is a huge contributor towards cognitive function.

Trends have shown that people with vitamin D deficiencies experience cognitive decline and are at a higher risk of dementia. If you live in colder climates, you are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.[5]

Some foods that are rich in vitamin D are:

  • Dairy products
  • Mushrooms
  • Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna

Sunlight is also a great source of this vitamin!

Curcumin

Even though you will have included anti-inflammatory foods in your diet, there is still a risk that something small may cause inflammation.

To counteract this issue, you should use curcumin.

Curcumin originates from the turmeric root. It has anti-inflammatory properties, reduces oxidative stress, and prevents the buildup of amyloid plaques. All these qualities keep the user at minimal risk of Alzheimer’s, too.[6]

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7. Avoid the Wrong Foods

Once again, you are what you eat.

Bad food can affect you equally as much as good nutrition.

If your goal is to avoid memory loss, you should also be avoiding the following:

Refined Carbs

Refined carbs include foods like cake, white bread, white rice, etc. These carbs are digested quickly and cause a steep increase in blood sugar levels. That in itself is harmful.

Moreover, refined carbs are also closely associated with obesity. Overweight individuals suffer from memory loss at younger ages. In fact, it is strongly recommended that people who want to enhance their memory should maintain optimum weight. Obesity is directly linked with dementia and a decline in brain activity.[7]

With the rising trend of fast food, refined carbs have become a part of pretty much every human’s diet. From kids to elders, everyone is exposed to foods that seem to be harmless but end up being highly risky.

Sugar

As mentioned above, high blood sugar levels are not good for the brain. This is why sugar intake must be monitored.

People with higher sugar levels have worse memories and lesser brain volume in comparison with people who have lower sugar levels.

Furthermore, research has proven that sugar is one of the major causes of short-term memory loss.[8]

By decreasing your sugar intake, you’ll not just improve your memory, but you will also get rid of numerous other health risks.

Alcohol

Alcohol in the blood leads to a memory deficit. Although occasional drinking doesn’t have a noticeable effect, habitual drinkers are at a huge risk.[9]

Excess alcohol intake has neurotoxic effects. It can directly attack the part of the brain that deals with memory.

The Bottom Line

If you get to it with full passion, you can experience noticeable results in your mind’s performance within a few weeks. Since none of these tips are hard to follow, you should begin with a positive attitude right away!

More Tips on Enhancing Memory

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on June 2, 2020

How Not to Let Cognitive Bias Control Us When Dealing with COVID-19

How Not to Let Cognitive Bias Control Us When Dealing with COVID-19

Why have so many people made so many bad decisions around COVID-19?

On the one hand, many ignored the information about the pandemic at first, dismissing its importance. Plenty believed — and some continue to believe — COVID-19 is no worse than the flu and shouldn’t be a concern. Others thought the US medical system would easily cope with it, as it did with SARS and other respiratory infections. Many think it will blow over soon, disappearing with the warm weather in the summer.

On the other hand, plenty of people have taken aggressive — and unhelpful — actions to address their fears. Many have engaged in panic buying, stocking up on more toilet paper than they can use in a year and getting canned goods that they will never eat. Others turned to hyped-up miracle cures offered by modern-day snake oil salespeople, despite health experts clearly conveying that there’s no known treatment or cure for COVID-19.

Such poor decision making stem from dangerous judgment errors that cognitive neuroscientists like myself call cognitive biases[1]. These mental blind spots impact all areas of our life, from health to relationships and even shopping, as a study recently revealed[2]. We need to be wary of cognitive biases in order to survive and thrive during this pandemic.

What Are Cognitive Biases?

A cognitive bias is a result of a combination of our evolutionary background[3] and specific structural features in how our brains are wired. Many of these mental blind spots proved beneficial for our survival[4] in the ancestral savanna environment, when we lived as hunter-gatherers in small tribes. Our ability to survive and reproduce depended on fast instinctive responses much more than reflective analysis.

Our primary threat response, which stems from the ancient savanna environment, is the fight-or-flight response. You might have heard of it as the saber-toothed tiger response: our ancestors had to jump at a hundred shadows to get away from a saber-toothed tiger or to fight members of an invading tribe.

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This lizard brain response proved a great fit for the kind of short-term intense risks we faced as hunter-gatherers. We are the descendants of those who had a great instinctive fight-or-flight response: the rest did not survive.

Unfortunately, our natural gut reaction to threats to either fight or flee results in terrible decisions in the modern environment. It’s particularly bad for defending us from major disruptions caused by the slow-moving train wrecks we face in the modern environment, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thus, the people who ignored — and continue to ignore — the reality of the dangers from COVID-19 are expressing the flight response. They’re fleeing from uncomfortable information, ignoring the reality of the situation. The people who are taking aggressive and unhelpful actions are expressing the fight response: trying to take control of the situation by doing what they can to fight COVID-19.

Neither of these very natural responses is the right response, of course. Our natural instincts often lead us in exactly the wrong direction in our modern civilized environment. That’s why we need to adopt civilized (and unnatural) behavior habits to ensure we develop mental fitness to make the best decisions.

You already take unnatural and civilized steps for the sake of your physical health. In the ancient savanna, it was critical for us to eat as much sugar as possible to survive when we came across honey, apples, or bananas. We are the descendants of those who were strongly triggered by sugar. Right now, our gut reactions still pull us to eat as much sugar as possible, despite the overabundance of sugar in our modern world and the harm caused by eating too many sweets.

Just like you take proactive steps to go against your intuition to protect your physical health, you need to go against your intuitions and adopt civilized decision-making habits to protect yourself from COVID-19 and so many other modern-day problems that didn’t exist in the ancestral savanna.

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The Most Relevant Cognitive Biases for COVID-19

More specifically, you need to watch out for three cognitive biases.

The Normalcy Bias

The normalcy bias[5] refers to the fact that our intuitions cause us to feel that the future, at least in the short and medium term of the next couple of years, will function in roughly the same way as the past: normally. That was a safe assumption in the savanna environment, but not today, when the world is changing at an increasingly rapid pace.

This bias leads us to fail to prepare nearly as well as they should for the likelihood and effects of major disruptions, especially slow-moving train wrecks such as pandemics. As a result, we tend to vastly underestimate both the possibility and impact of a disaster striking us.

Moreover, in the midst of the event itself, people react much more slowly than they ideally should, getting stuck in the mode of gathering information instead of deciding and acting.

While the normalcy bias is the most harmful cognitive bias from which we suffer in the face of the pandemic, it’s far from the only one. In fact, a number of other cognitive biases combined with normalcy bias lead to bad decisions about the pandemic.

The Attentional Bias

One of these, attentional bias, refers to our tendency to pay attention to information that we find most emotionally engaging, and to ignore information that we don’t[6]. Given the intense, in-the-moment nature of threats and opportunities in the ancestral savanna, this bias is understandable. Yet, in the modern environment, sometimes information that doesn’t feel emotionally salient is actually really important.

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For example, the fact that the novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, and caused massive sickness and deaths there didn’t draw much attention as a salient potential threat among Europeans and Americans. It proved too easy to dismiss the importance of the outbreak in Wuhan due to stereotypical and inaccurate visions of the Chinese heartland as full of backwoods peasants.

In reality, Wuhan is a global metropolis. The largest city in central China, it has over 11 million people and produced over $22.5 billion in 2018. It has a good healthcare system, strengthened substantially by China after the SARS pandemic. A major travel hub, Wuhan’s nickname is “the Chicago of China”; it had over 500 international flights per day before the outbreak. If we assume an average of 250 people per plane, that’s 10,000 people a day flying out of Wuhan.

Europeans and Americans, with the exception of a small number of experts, failed to perceive the threat to themselves from the breakdown of Wuhan’s solid healthcare system as it became overwhelmed by COVID-19. They arrogantly assumed this breakdown pointed to the backwardness of central China, rather than the accurate perception that any modern medical system would become overwhelmed in the face of the novel coronavirus.

In the savanna environment, our ancestors had to live in and for the moment since they couldn’t effectively invest resources to improve their future states (it’s not like they could freeze the meat of the mammoths they killed). Right now, we have many ways of investing into our future lives, such as saving money in banks. Yet our instincts always drive us to orient toward short-term rewards and sacrifice our long-term future, a mental blind spot called hyperbolic discounting[7].

This helps explain why so many people are not focusing sufficiently on the long-term impact of the pandemic. Many are rushing to “get back to normal,” failing to realize that doing so will leave them very vulnerable both to COVID-19 and the disruptions accompanying the impact of the pandemic.

The Planning Fallacy

We tend to feel optimistic about our plans: we made them, and therefore the plans must be good, right? We intuitive feel that our plans will go accordingly, failing to prepare adequately enough for threats and risks. As a result, our initial plans often don’t work out. We either fail to accomplish our goals or require much more time, money, and other resources to get where we wanted to go originally, a cognitive bias known as the planning fallacy[8]. Moreover, we don’t pivot quickly enough when external events require us to change our plans.

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Thus, the vast majority of us were unprepared for a major disruption like COVID-19. Moreover, a great many people tried to go ahead with their plans when they should have pivoted, such as holding weddings, going on vacations, and so on.

Addressing Cognitive Bias

To address these cognitive biases in relation to the pandemic, you have to adopt a realistic and even pessimistic perspective. We have no way of coping with the pandemic save a combination of shutdowns and social distancing. We will see wave-like periods[9] of tight restrictions that result in less cases, then loosened restrictions with spikes of cases, and then again tightened restrictions.

Such waves will last until we find an effective vaccine and vaccinate at least the most vulnerable demographics, which in the most optimistic scenario will not be until late 2021. If things don’t go perfectly, it might be more like 2023 or 2024: that’s the moderate scenario. In more pessimistic scenarios, we might not have an effective vaccine until 2027 or even later.

Does that feel unreal to you? That’s the cognitive biases talking. We still don’t have an effective vaccine for the flu, as our current version is only about 50% effective in preventing infections.

Ray Dalio, who leads Bridgewater Associates and manages over $150 billion in investor assets, said early in the pandemic : “As with investing, I hope that you will imagine the worst-case scenario and protect yourself against it”[10]. So what would it mean for you if you plan for the worst while, of course, hoping for the best?

The Bottom Line

You need to pivot for the long term by revising your plans[11] in a way that accounts for the cognitive bias associated with COVID-19. By doing so, you’ll protect yourself and those you care about from our deeply inadequate gut reactions in the face of such slow-moving train wrecks.

More Tips on Overcoming Cognitive Bias

Featured photo credit: Ani Kolleshi via unsplash.com

Reference

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