Most people have occasional lapses in memory, such as forgetting a new acquaintance’s name or misplacing the car keys.
Most of the time, this is simply a sign that a person is a bit too busy or is preoccupied. On the other hand, having a consistently poor memory can be problematic for someone.
Many factors play a role in memory loss, including genetics, age, and medical conditions that affect the brain. There are also some manageable risk factors for memory loss, such as diet and lifestyle.
In this article, learn about some techniques to help improve your memory.
1. Give your brain a workout.
By the time you’ve reached adulthood, your brain has developed millions of neural pathways that help you process and recall information quickly, solve familiar problems, and execute habitual tasks with a minimum of mental effort. But if you always stick to these well-worn paths, you aren’t giving your brain the stimulation it needs to keep growing and developing. You have to shake things up from time to time!
Memory, like muscular strength, requires you to “use it or lose it.” The more you work out your brain, the better you’ll be able to process and remember information. But not all activities are equal. The best brain exercises break your routine and challenge you to use and develop new brain pathways.
2. Don’t skip the physical exercise.
While mental exercise is important for brain health, that doesn’t mean you never need to break a sweat. Physical exercise helps your brain stay sharp. It increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Exercise also enhances the effects of helpful brain chemicals and reduces stress hormones. Perhaps most importantly, exercise plays an important role in neuroplasticity by boosting growth factors and stimulating new neuronal connections.
Aerobic exercise is particularly good for the brain, so choose activities that keep your blood pumping. In general, anything that is good for your heart is great for your brain.
3. Keep stress in check.
Stress is one of the brain’s worst enemies. Over time, chronic stress destroys brain cells and damages the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in the formation of new memories and the retrieval of old ones. Studies have also linked stress to memory loss.
Tips for managing stress to improve your memory:
- Set realistic expectations (and be willing to say no!)
- Take breaks throughout the day
- Express your feelings instead of bottling them up
- Set a healthy balance between work and leisure time
4. Have a laugh.
You’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine, and that holds true for the brain and the memory, as well as the body. Unlike emotional responses, which are limited to specific areas of the brain, laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain.
Furthermore, listening to jokes and working out punch lines activates areas of the brain vital to learning and creativity. As psychologist Daniel Goleman notes in his book Emotional Intelligence, “laughter seems to help people think more broadly and associate more freely.”
5. Get enough sleep – Improve Your Memory
Getting a full night’s rest, typically about 7-9 hours a night for an adult, helps the brain create and store long term memories.
6. Reduce sugar intake.
Sugary foods can taste delicious and feel rewarding at first, but they may play a role in memory loss. Research from 2017 in animal models noted that a diet high in sugary drinks has a link to Alzheimer’s disease.
Avoiding extra sugar may help combat this risk. While naturally sweet foods, such as fruits, are a good addition to a healthful diet, people can avoid drinks sweetened with sugar and foods with added, processed sugars.