As long as there’s a scrap of paper to be written on, anything can be remembered. But why rely on writing everything down when there are easy, natural, and sometimes strange ways to improve your memory? These ten practical tips on improving your memory will definitely stimulate your brain.
1. Play brain games.
By the time you’re an adult, you probably have a routine carved out. Get up, go to work, come home, be with family. These habits work because you’ve done them over and over, and they use the same neural pathways in your brain. Shaking up this routine can stimulate your brain so it keeps developing. Find brain teasers, or do sudoku and crossword puzzles in the paper. There are an influx of websites and game cartridges that will help you use your brain in different ways. Brain games don’t have to be on a computer or handheld device! Taking a new way home from work, visiting different places over the weekend, and reading different types of books will also activate lesser-used areas of the brain. Anything that’s new, fun, and challenging will stimulate your brain.
2. Eat brain foods.
Food is fuel for the body, and also fuels the brain! Eating a well-balanced diet will not only improve your memory‒it can reduce your risk of dementia in old age. Eat plenty of omega-3s, which can be found in a variety of fish. If you don’t like seafood, try eating more walnuts, spinach, broccoli, and kidney beans. Eat more fruits and vegetables; they’re packed with antioxidants that protect brain cells from damage.
Exercising keeps your body in shape, but it also keeps your brain healthy. Losing weight not only restores your body to how it used to look, it also improves your memory function. Walking six to nine miles a week, especially as you get older, helps preserve your memories. It’s been shown that, after nine years of this type of exercise, you’ll have more brain volume than someone who has led a more sedentary lifestyle.
4. Get enough sleep.
It’s common sense that you need a certain amount of sleep to function every day, but did you know that sleep improves memory? It’s because your brain stays so busy, even while you’re asleep! The brain works on memories, even reorganizing them. Now some of your dreams make a little more sense, right?
5. Chew gum.
A study showed that chewing gum helped individuals stay more focused on a task. They also had improved short-term memory compared with those who didn’t chew gum. Just make sure your chewing doesn’t turn into annoying chomping‒that might disrupt others’ concentration!
6. Manage stress levels.
Stress makes you feel strung out and hectic, but it also negatively impacts your brain. Over time, chronic stress kills brain cells and damages the hippocampus, the section of the brain that forms new memories and stores old ones.
7. Have a healthy iron level.
Iron deficiency can have adverse effects on brain function, including attention and memory issues. Studies have shown that people who have low iron levels and took memory tests took longer to finish these tests, as well as scored significantly lower than people with normal iron levels. Thankfully, taking an iron supplement easily reverses these negative points. In that same study, people who took supplements scored at a normal level just a couple of months later.
8. Clench your right fist.
Sounds crazy simple, right? … Or just crazy. But a study was done showing that individuals who clenched their right fists while learning new material, then clenched their left fist when recalling that material, remembered more than groups who didn’t clench their fists at all.
9. Learn to focus.
Multitasking has always been hailed as a good thing, a trait that makes people more productive. But it’s not. Multitasking actually distracts your brain. Trying to juggle too many tasks at once prevents you from focusing on, and completing, one thing.
10. Sip red wine.
Last but certainly not least! Don’t we always love a doctor-given reason to drink wine? Red wine is rich in resveratrol, which boosts blood flow in the brain and reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Be sure you drink in moderation, since alcohol can kill brain cells. Doctors recommend one glass a day for women, and two for men. If you want to stay away from alcohol completely, resveratrol is also found in cranberry juice, grape juice, peanuts, and fresh grapes and berries.