A Short Course in Retaining, Maintaining, and Regaining Concentration and Memory

In response to a question "How to Get Back My Concentration and Memory" I compiled a collection of tips for improvement; following a description of each of the tips is a summary in list form.


Sleep

Several things can help you improve your ability to concentrate and remember things.

One of the biggest barriers to good concentration and memory is poor sleep or a lack of sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep is important, but so is keeping a regular schedule (going to sleep at the same time and waking up at the same time each day). Some studies have shown that people who work on swing shifts (night shift one day, day shift another day) - such as factory workers and medical personnel, for example - are more prone to accidents caused by problems with concentration. Studies of traffic accidents also show that driving while sleepy is every bit as dangerous as driving while drunk.

Exercise and Nutrition

Good exercise is very important. Exercise can help when it is done regularly, but it can also help when it is done immediately prior to a task that requires focus and concentration. In other words, exercise/walk/run/jog/work-out daily for the long-term effects, and exercise shortly before a specific task to get the short-term benefits.

Good nutrition should be emphasized too: eat lots of healthy vegetables, a good amount of healthy fruits and whole grains, and a moderate amount of protein; drink a sufficient amount of water. Some people find that food allergies affect brain function. If you ever notice a sort of space-y or foggy feeling in your mind, like you can't quite wrap your thoughts around the tasks at hand, write down what you have eaten and drunk within the previous twelve hours. Over time, by comparing these notes, you should be able to identify any culprits, if food allergies are to blame. (But in some cases, the effects may take even longer than twelve hours to show up.)

Some supplements (fish oil and other omega-3 fatty acids) can give long-term benefits; moderate consumption of alcohol supposedly helps keep arteries clear and functioning well (and that should assist in brain function, although not immediately after the alcohol consumption!); caffeine and ginseng can help in the short term, and so can peppermint. Try keeping some peppermint candies available for times when you need an immediate mental boost.

Mental Exercise

These above suggestions all relate to the physical aspects of brain health. Good mental exercise is also very important, and several Hubbers have written articles dedicated to suggestions for this type of exercise. One of the best ways to keep your brain "young" is to learn new things, to work at solving new types of problems.

My father, I have heard, could memorize a list of 100 items and then could later recall not only each item but its position on the list. I never learned how he did that trick, but I have tried to find ways to accomplish the same thing. I figure that, even if I never learn his trick, it can only help my memory for me to try different ways of repeating it.

Even when you use mental exercise to improve your concentration and memory, it is possible to lose the effects of the exercise by sticking too rigidly with one type of puzzle or exercise that becomes easy and comfortable as time passes. Challenge yourself! The immediate effects may be slightly daunting, but over time, the results should pay off in great ways.

Summary

  • Get the right amount of sleep on a regular schedule.
  • Good exercise and good nutrition are very important.
  • Some supplements (fish oil and other omega-3 fatty acids) can give long-term benefits.
  • Caffeine, ginseng, and peppermint can help in the short term.
  • Good mental exercise helps to keep your mind young.
  • Learn new things, and challenge yourself!

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Comments 11 comments

Aficionada profile image

Aficionada 3 years ago from Indiana, USA Author

Thank you, sfrentz06! I think most of us - at least, everyone I know - can use any and all tips for improving memory. I hope these can help someone.


sfrentz06 profile image

sfrentz06 3 years ago from Sterling Heights, MI, USA

Very useful information. Voted up!


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Thank you for this article that has new ways to relax. I started them immediately. I know that you are a musician. I practice breathing on a harmonica and love it. I read about it in a self - help book. Your ideas hit the spot, and the article is well organized and easy to understand. I hope that it lowers my stress level, especially as the holidays arrive. Thanks for sharing.


Aficionada profile image

Aficionada 6 years ago from Indiana, USA Author

Thanks so much for your comment, Lifeallstar1! I plan to go over and read your hub about concussions. I'm sure you have some very important information there, and I look forward to reading it.


Lifeallstar1 profile image

Lifeallstar1 6 years ago

Hi Aficionada, I have the Lumosity.com advertisement on my hub, as well. My hub is about concussions and short term memory loss is a big factor so that is why it's there. I think it's great...not the concussions but the Lumosity..LOL. It really does help a lot like you said. I love a lot of the points you made. I follow some already but I'm going to try the others you have listed and see if it helps me. I will let you know. If it doesn't help me, it doesn't mean that it won't help others. I have a TBI so sometimes my brain just says, nope not today! I want to try the peppermint, that sounds very interesting, and also try to eat better. Thanks for the great hub, it was really helpful!!


Aficionada profile image

Aficionada 6 years ago from Indiana, USA Author

Thanks for stopping by and reading, Internetwriter62.

I have had a long-term interest in issues of memory and remembering, partly due to my own successes and failures in that area. I can't say that I always follow my own advice to a T, but repeating the tips and reminding myself of good practices helps me to review areas where I need to get back on track.

When I put this information together I tried unsuccessfully to include a link to a very helpful little book published by Usborne on tips for improving memory. I'll see if I can include some of those ideas in an upcoming Hub.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

Great hub, I do find that focusing can be hard at times. My mind tends to wonder more often than I like to admit. Your tips are excellent. I do have trouble with the sleep sometimes, but I try to keep a regular sleep schedule. Fish oil does help, I've never tried memory exercise, but I have heard they do wonders.


CaribeM profile image

CaribeM 6 years ago

Good idea to make a series about this topic ;) I'll look forward to read them. Thanks again for your interest in the topic and the website recommendation.


Aficionada profile image

Aficionada 6 years ago from Indiana, USA Author

One other thing - totally separate from the fact that their ads are on this page and other HubPages, I actually do highly recommend Lumosity.com. I know that there are other brain-training sites out there, but I don't have experience with others. I do know that the exercises/games on Lumosity are very fun, suitably challenging and rewarding, and designed to assist with specific types of brain function. Also, on Lumosity, they keep track of your scores so that you can see your own progress.


Aficionada profile image

Aficionada 6 years ago from Indiana, USA Author

Thanks so much for your kind words, CaribeM. I know that I tried to cover a complicated question with some rather short tips, and I know that there are many situations, like the illness you mention, that I didn't touch at all.

In fact, there is at least one more item I meant to add (and may yet) relating to the everyday, garden-variety type of memory problem, and that is the importance of focused attention on whatever it is that one wants to remember. Maybe I'll update this when I add some pics, or maybe start a separate Hub.


CaribeM profile image

CaribeM 6 years ago

Aficionada, thanks for your kind and well articulated answer to my question. I think that your recommendations are very helpful, I'm already following some of them but need to do put some effort to follow other tips as well. Memory and concentration problems take sometime to recover after an illness but definitely this advices will help to pave the way.

Take care and THANK YOU very much! My best wishes for you and yours.

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