A good memory relies on two things – health and brain vitality. Whether you’re a student studying for your exams, or a professional trying to stay sharp mentally, or a senior wanting to preserve and improve your brain health as you age, there are many things you can do to keep your mental performance strong.
1. Keep Your Body Active to Keep Your Brain in Shape
Running, biking, swimming, or any type of cardiovascular exercise that will raise your heart will pump more oxygen-carrying blood to your brain. This enlarges our hippocampus (the part of our brain that stores memories) and increases our brain’s secretion of neurotrophic factor, a protein necessary for long-term memory. Also, study shows that regular cardiovascular exercises (20 to 30 minutes, three times a week) can cause our brain to make new connections between neurons and hippocampus.
2. Play Brain Games to Give Your Brain a Workout, Regularly
Just as your body needs exercise to stay in shape, your brain also needs some sort of stimulating activities to keep it sharp and in good shape. Read, and read a lot. Read those sections in newspapers that you usually skip; solve crossword puzzles; play chess or variety of mental games and memory games in your smartphone; take alternate routes when driving, learn how to play a music instrument, etc., The term ‘use it or lose it’ applies in our brain, the more your exercise your brain, the better your brain works in the long run.
3. Get More Sleep
Sleep disorder and sleep deprivation leads to memory loss, and some cases results to dementia. Experts agree that, sleeping helps build memories. This is because the connections between neurons are solidified when we sleep. The rule of thumb is to get a total of seven to nine hours of sleep each day. And yes, naps count.
4. Meet People Regularly
Social interaction is important to ward off stress and depression, and both of which are known to contribute to memory loss. Make sure you spend time with your loved ones and friends regularly, this is very important especially for people who live alone. Attend event and accept invites from your coworkers, and have fun!
5. Eat Right to Feed Your Brain
We eat right to keep our body functioning right. The same goes with our brain. The grey matter can’t function well without the essential nutrients and certain chemical compounds it needs. Blueberries are among the top list of brain food. It contains anthocyanins, which are brain-boosting antioxidants. This chemical compound keeps the brain in shape by preventing inflammation and oxidation, which causes damages to the neurons.
For long-term memory, experts suggest green vegetables. Spinach, kale, and green leafy vegetables are rich in phytonutrients such as vitamin C, which are essential nutrients for memory.
You can never go wrong with healthy diet. Choose fruits, vegetable and whole grains over fast food. Opt for lean meat, skinless poultry, fish, etc. Fatty fish like salmon is rich in omega 3s, which is beneficial for brain as well. Make sure you keep your body hydrated as well.
6. Stop Multitasking
Multitasking is the shorthand attempt to do multiple things simultaneously, as quickly as possible. Research however, shows that multitasking may actually slow you down, and make you prone to errors and cause you to become more forgetful.
The best solution is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps our brain achieve better focus, improve comprehension and working memory, as well as experience less distractions. Study shows that students who take mindfulness classes score better in exams.
Humans have been practicing meditation for thousands of years. It’s one of the best activities for both the mind and body. Meditation improves concentration and focus, which are key essentials to memory. Also, meditation reduces stress by increasing blood flow in certain areas of the brain used for memory tasks.