Ways To Keep Your Memory Sharp
The way you live, what you eat and drink, and how you treat your body can affect your memory just as much as your physical health and well-being. Here are five things you can do every day to keep both your mind and body sharp.
1. Manage your stress. The constant drumbeat of daily stresses such as deadline pressures or petty arguments can certainly distract you and affect your ability to focus and recall. But the bigger problem is an ongoing sense of anxiety that can lead to memory impairment. If you don’t have a strategy in place for managing your stress, protecting your memory is one reason to get one. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and a “mindful” approach to living can all help.
2. Get a good night’s sleep. People who don’t sleep well at night tend to be more forgetful than people who sleep soundly. A good night’s sleep is essential for consolidating memories. The most common reason for poor sleep is insomnia difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Unfortunately, many medicines used to treat insomnia can also impair memory and general brain function. That’s why it’s best to try improving your sleep habits first and turn to medication only if those steps don’t help. If you do need sleep aids, use the lowest dose for the shortest time needed to get your sleep back on track.
For more on diagnosing memory problems and boosting your memory, buy Improving Memory, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Be Mindful Of Your Diet
Certain foods lead to a healthy brain and can be quite beneficial as we age. Healthy foods may delay the onset of Dementia and Alzheimers disease.
Foods that contain caffeine can boost energy, which keeps the mind sharp. Caffeine can be found in chocolate, coffee, and energy drinks. Getting your day off to a good start with a high-fiber breakfast also helps.
You should also incorporate fruits, nuts, whole grains, berries and fish into your meals. Although these are good sources of brain food, make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet.
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The Benefits Of Keeping Your Brain Sharp
A sharp, healthy brain has a positive impact throughout the mind and body. It keeps cognitive function, problem-solving skills and motor skills in shape. It keeps you focused but also helps you multitask. It strengthens memory and sparks creativity. It even boosts energy to keep you upbeat. For all those reasons, an alert, stimulated brain will do wonders for your productivity on the job.
Avoid Using Technology To Solve Basic Problems
We rely so much on technology that we have lost the ability to solve the most basic problems without it. For example, we stopped using maps or doing math without a calculator. If you want to boost your memory and brainpower, turn to the old ways and use a paper map, calculate in your mind, use a paper calendar, write letters, etc.
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Dont Smoke Or Drink Excessive Amounts Of Alcohol
Because smoking and drinking too much both put you at an increased risk of dementia, according to the Alzheimers Association, if you smoke, its best to quit, and if you drink, to do so only in moderation.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as less than two drinks per day for men and less than one per day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed. A drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits or liquor.
Underscoring the importance of limiting your alcohol intake, a study published in July 2022 found that alcohol consumption above seven units per week is associated with higher brain iron, which in turn is associated with worse cognitive function. Seven units of alcohol is about the amount in four bottles of beer or three standard glasses of wine.
Do More Things You’re Not Good At
Can’t sing? Keep trying. A mess at chess? Challenge yourself to another game. Turns out, trying new things will help grow new brain connections. “As we become older, we tend to do things we’re already good at,” says Tippett. “But you have to step out of your comfort zone to keep your cognitive edge.”
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Take A College Course Or Become A Mentor
We should never stop learning. Continuing education keeps the mind sharp.
Taking a college course at a local university may do the trick. It gets you out of the house among other people to engage with. A class can strengthen sharp mental health in aging citizens.
If taking a class does not interest you, consider being a mentor at a local school where you can interact with a younger generation.
Maintain A Healthy Diet
What you eat can make a big difference in how well you think and remember things.
Foods containing nutrients such as vitamin E, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids have been linked with improved cognitive function, a review of previously published studies found. Conversely, consuming foods that are high in saturated fats can negatively impact memory and other brain functions, according to a review published in May 2022.
Based on these findings, its best if your diet emphasizes foods such as green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, berries, and seafood. Eating plans like the Mediterranean diet, which features vegetables, healthy fats like olive oil, and omega-3 fatty acids from fish, or the DASH diet, which focuses on fruits and veggies, fat-free or low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean meats, are good choices for overall good health.
A newer diet called MIND incorporates many elements of the Mediterranean and DASH diets but with modifications to maximize the positive effects on brain function, says Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
The MIND diet includes 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. And it limits five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried food and fast food.
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How Do I Support My Babys Cognitive Development
Beyond maintaining a healthy diet pre-birth, research shows that exclusively nursing your baby may be associated with higher IQ scores in young girls. However, this is not always easy to do. Some people are not able to nurse their babies due to financial, social, or medical reasons.
Talking with your baby may help improve their verbal abilities and cognitive skills in adolescence. However, its important to keep in mind that a childs intelligence can be influenced by a variety of genetic and environmental factors such as:
Focus On Another Person
The next time you interact with someone, take note of four things about them. Maybe you observe the color of their shirt or pants. Are they wearing glasses? Do they have a hat on, and if so, what kind of hat? What color is their hair?
Once you decide on four things to remember, make a mental note, and come back to it later in the day. Write down what you remember about those four details.
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Learn To Paint Or Draw
If you want to increase your concentration skills, reduce anxiety, and improve your memory, then why not learn to paint or draw?
As well as being a creative outlet, research also suggests that drawing and painting can strengthen the neural pathways responsible for our focus and attention.
Many people avoid artistic skills like this because they fear they wont be any good at it, but anyone can learn to paint or draw with a little patience and practise. Appreciation of art is also largely down to interpretation, so while there can be room for improvement its something thats impossible to get wrong.
If youre keen to put pencil to paper or brush to canvas, you might find our beginners guides to painting and drawing useful.
Best For Tracking Progress: Cognifit
“This app offers a range of cognitive exercises that can help to improve memory, attention and executive function,” Wilson says. “It also provides insights into your cognitive performance so that you can see how you are progressing. This will help you identify any areas that need improvement and work on them.”
The patented system offers a personalized approach to brain training and even lets you assess your cognitive age. Users wrote that the games are engaging, but the app can be a little glitchy.
âPrice: âYou can download the basic version for free. Monthly and annual subscription packages are available.
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Let Your Creative Juices Flow
Is there something you love doing? Painting, knitting, pottery or other arts and crafts projects can help you keep a sharp memory.
The calm associated with painting and other craft activities help relieve stress. They can also improve your mood and improve brain health because it is a good relaxation technique.
Reducing stress is the path to keeping the mind sharp.
Building A Cognitive Reserve
The latest theories show that if you end up with a brain disease like Alzheimers, you want to have a cognitive reserve, Dr. Ogrocki says. Your brain will be more resistant to the disease process and, even if you have Alzheimers, you can stay sharper longer.
While age-related brain decline happens, certain behaviors will help your brain power, Dr. Ogrocki says. Her top five ways to keep your mind sharp:
The research doesnt support that the expensive computer brain programs you have to pay for are any better than the mind games you find for free on the Internet, she says. She suggests searching for mind games and creating your own mix to challenge yourself or find games, puzzles or challenging reading in magazines and books if you don’t use a computer.
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Create A Routine For The Simple Things
Lost keys, forgotten birthdays, getting lostall of these trivial annoyances drain the minds capacity.
When you use tools to keep these things in order, your brain is able to concentrate on learning and development. As far as misplacing things, designate a specific place in your home to keep the keys, eyeglasses, walletetc.
Change Up Your Daily Routine
Our brains are always working, but they have to do far less when we simply repeat the same actions over and over.
For this reason, its a good idea to change up your routine every so often to keep your brain on its toes. This is also the perfect opportunity to try something new.
For example, if you usually walk, run, or cycle the same route, why not try going a completely different way next time? Or, consider slotting a new activity into your daily routine like 10 minutes of meditation first thing in the morning.
Its these changes in activity that help take our minds off cruise control and put them back into gear, because they increase brain activity in several different areas.
For more inspiration, you might like to have a read of our article 18 ways to step outside of your comfort zone.
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Healthy Diet Healthier Brain
To keep yourself well, you need to eat well, too. That doesnt mean you have to give up the food you love. By adding in a few healthy ingredients, you can help your body and your brain. Stock up on these nutrient-rich foods to feel your best:
- Oily fish like salmon, tuna and sardines for omega-3s
- Dark chocolate for a delicious dose of antioxidants
- Whole grains, nuts and seeds for a dose of vitamin E
- Berries to reduce inflammation
For even better brain health, consider cutting sugary drinks and processed foods from your diet.
Work Out To Stay Sharp
Exercise, especially the kind that gets your heart rate up like walking or swimming, has mental pluses, too. Although experts aren’t sure why, physical activity might increase the blood supply to the brain and improve links between brain cells. Staying active can help memory, imagination, and even your ability to plan tasks.
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Our Moments Couples: Conversation Starters For Great Relationships
Its also important to keep your emotional intelligence sharp by engaging in conversations where you evoke and attune to the emotions of others. Take time to have a meaningful conversation with a loved one and improve your emotional intelligence by observing and asking how they feel during the conversation, says Schewitz.
This card pack is filled with stimulating questions like Whats something that youll never try again? or What have you lost since childhood that youd like to regain?
Easy Ways To Keep Your Mind Sharp
Have you ever heard this phrase: Use it or lose it? When it comes to matters of the mind, that saying can be your ticket to staying sharp mentally.
Researchers used to think you were born with a limited number of neurons, which are cells that serve as information messengers in your brain.
Scientists now realize that you generate neurons into adulthood and these new cells impact your learning and memory, says neuropsychologist Paula Ogrocki, PhD.
A lot of research has been done into the neurons in your brain, she says. Weve learned that if you stay active mentally and physically, new ones can be built.”
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Economize Your Brain Use
If you don’t need to use mental energy remembering where you laid your keys or the time of your granddaughter’s birthday party, you’ll be better able to concentrate on learning and remembering new and important things. Take advantage of calendars and planners, maps, shopping lists, file folders, and address books to keep routine information accessible. Designate a place at home for your glasses, purse, keys, and other items you use often. Remove clutter from your office or home to minimize distractions, so you can focus on new information that you want to remember.
A Healthy Diet Builds Brainpower
Do your brain a favor and choose foods that are good for your heart and waistline. Being obese in middle age makes you twice as likely to have dementia later on. High cholesterol and high blood pressure raise your chances, too. Try these easy tips:
- Bake or grill foods instead of frying.
- Cook with “good” fats like oils from nuts, seeds, and olives instead of cream, butter, and fats from meat.
- Eat colorful fruits and veggies.
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Changing Your Mind About Brain Health
Severe memory loss is not a normal part of aging as many people think. Its the result of a brain injury, organic disorder or neurological condition like Alzheimers. Occasional memory lapses, on the other hand, are a normal part of growing old. As you age, the hippocampus gradually shrinks. Brain cells within it stop producing new neurons and disconnect from other cells. Blood flow, which supplies brain cells with oxygen, just isnt what it used to be. However, researchers are excited about new evidence that normal memory loss isnt necessarily permanent. The shrinkage can be reversed, and production of new brain cells can be stimulated by exercise and other healthy habits. Thats one more good reason to turn off Netflix and get off the couch.
Its worth mentioning here that brains dont fully mature until around age 25. Thats why its so important for even children and teenagers to be good to their brains. Head injuries and substance abuse interfere with normal development, and the resulting damage is tough to undo. The area of the brain thats most affected by brain damage is responsible for language, planning, judgment, decision making and self-control. At any age, prioritize brain health.
Use All Of Your Senses
When doing something, try to use as many of your senses as possible. For instance, if youre gardening, focus on the smell of the grass and soil, the feel of earth between your fingers, the colors, the sounds everything. This means practicing mindfulness, and its worth noting again simply because of the tremendous effect it can have on your health.
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