- Aging & Longevity
Ways to Improve Your Memory
Whether you are young or old, memory is important. It is true that as you age remembering things gets to be a little harder. However, you can start now, at whatever age you are, at improving your memory. This can help you today and tomorrow. It is important that you work on this a little at a time and keep it up as time goes on.
There have been several studies to show that walking is great for the brain. Not only does this get your blood flowing, which is good for the brain, but it also gets your senses involved. Try observing the world that you are walking by. You can walk a mall and see a lot of different things. If it is nice outside then walk the neighborhoods for interesting houses, gardens, and other things to see. A park is a nice place to walk to. If your city or town has several parks then it is a good idea to visit one today and a different one next time you walk for change. Also find out about walking trails and nature trails in your area!
A Healthy Lifestyle
The first step to improving your memory is working on improving your lifestyle. It is true that for most of us this is a place we could all start.
Eating Healthy-The first step to a good memory and great brain function is in the diet. Not that you have to have a "diet" in the terms that it is often used, but that you should be consuming a variety of foods healthy in nature and full of vitamins and nutrients. It is also healthier to eat five or six small meals instead of three larger ones. This lets your body work better all throughout the time you are awake.
Exercise-Exercise is important to so many parts of our bodies. It is also true that good exercise gets the blood pumping and is good for brain function. Improving brain function is good for improving memory.
Sleep-The brain needs plenty of sleep and as such it becomes an important part of your memory. It is true that it is easy to let life crowd in on the sleep, but this is an important aspect of our health and it is very important for a healthy brain.
Reduce Stress-It is impossible to eliminate stress from our lives. However, there are lots of ways to reduce stress. It is through reducing stress that we can help our brains become better tuned.
Get Organized-While getting organized isn't really a way to a healthy lifestyle, at least as we normally think of it, it does help with a number of things. First of all the other things are easier to maintain when our lives are well ordered and organized. We find that we are less stressed and that it is easier to fit exercise and other things into our daily schedules.
The first step to better brain function and therefore better memory is living a healthier lifestyle. It is true that you can't wake up tomorrow, decide that your lifestyle is going to be completely different and have it work out. Instead you need to change your lifestyle on small thing at a time.
Watch Your Hydration
If you get dehydrated then your blood veins become smaller and tighter. Blood has to work harder to get through and it takes longer to do so. This is bad for the brain and will reduce your observation skills. Without good observation skills you won't be able to remember (after all, you don't have to worry about remembering things you didn't even notice to begin with!).
Water-You should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. This is the minimum. After all, if you are doing or adding things that will help dehydrate you or if it is hot out then you will need more.
Avoid drinks that dehydrate-There are a lot of drinks that actually work against your body. They include drinks with caffeine and alcohol. Sugary drinks can also work against your body's hydration. Avoid these when possible, or drink these types of drinks in moderation. When you do consume them drink extra water as well.
Smoking and Drugs-Smoking and drugs can also cause a hydration issue. While these things aren't really recommended for a healthy lifestyle anyhow, many of us use them. You have to be the one to decide to stop, but you should also be aware that they can cause you to become dehydrated easier.
Start With Positive Thinking
Our brains are powerful tools. When used negatively they can tear our world down. When used positively, you can actually do whatever it is you set your mind to. You need to start improving your memory by telling yourself that you can indeed improve your memory.
Avoid the following phrases-
- "I always forget everything!"
- "I can never remember where I put it!"
- "Numbers slip out of my mind the moment I try to remember them!"
- "I am awful with names and faces!"
Instead concentrate on the fact that your memory will improve. You will get your memory jump started and keep improving it as your brain gets into better and better shape. Encourage yourself with these positive thoughts. When the negative ones do come, stop and correct yourself. Such as "I always forget everything!". You need to stop yourself and say, "But now that I am making improvements on my lifestyle and building up my brain I will start to remember many things!"
Creative Brain Exercises
You can also exercise your brain by doing creative brain exercises. Try using your non-dominant hand for doing things. This can include practicing writing, brushing your teeth, or stirring a pan. You can do a few things with your eyes closed such as taking a shower or getting dressed for work. If you eat alone then listen to music while eating your dinner one day. If you live with someone else then try having a dinner time conversation without using any words or sounds. Instead use gestures and hand shapes.
Exercise Your Brain
You have amazing potential deep within your head. Your brain is a thousand times smarter, stronger, and willing to work for you then you could ever imagine. The problem is that we get moving on with life and we forget that it is there for our benefits. Life gets us busy and we stop working it as hard as we did when we were growing up (even though that only tapped into a portion of its potential). Because of this, our brain does very well when we exercise it!
- Never stop reading. There are enough books out there that you don't have to worry about reading them all before your life is over. Keep reading books about anything and everything that excites you. Read both fiction and non-fiction.
- Do puzzles and brain teasers. You can find them in lots of books and magazines for a small price.
- Play challenging games that make your brain really think.
- Learn a new skill, language, or even to play a new instrument. Learning is something the brain loves to do, but the older we get the less likely we are to do it. You are never to old to learn and you can teach and old dog new tricks!
- Spend time engaging your senses. Use two of them or more at once. Listen to music while doing something with your hands or smelling flowers for example.
Learning to Remember
Learning to remember doesn't have to be incredibly difficult. But it does take time, practice, and patience. There isn't some magical way to suddenly remember everything and even improving your memory isn't going to help you remember if your keys end up in the couch because they fell out of your pocket or even that you set them on the table instead of hanging them on the hook.
Learning to observe-The first step of remembering is learning to observe. Often times we get going to fast and we forget to look around. We say we have a hard time remembering names and faces, but we don't take the time to look at the people's faces when we do meet them. Slow down life a little and start observing things. It takes about eight seconds of concentrating on a piece of information in order for it to be processed into your memory.
Make an Association-Link what you need to remember to something that will help you remember it. For example if you need to remember to mail a letter then you should think of the letter going into the mail box.
Practice-You should then go over what you need to remember and what you have associated it with a few times to implant it in your brain.
You should continue to practice with this and over time you will find that it takes less practice for you to remember things then it used to.
Your associations will be some form of a mnemonic device. A mnemonic device (pronounced without the m) is an association connecting two things in your mind to make it easier to remember.
Visual-You can use visual pictures to remember things. The visual aid of putting the letter in the mail box was one such clue. However, it doesn't always have to be that way. You can imagine images for names (a rose for Rosie), numbers (the sign with your house number to remember your new address), and other types of events or information. Make your pictures bold, colorful, and remember-able. Also make sure they are pleasant ones because the brain doesn't like unpleasant pictures. You can also make them shocking for value. You could have the rose coming out of Rosie's nose or if you need to pick up a book for your nephew's birthday then imagine it chasing your nephew.
Sentences-Take the first letter of each word and make a sentence out of it. For example Rosie could be: Rosie only sings in England. Another example if for when music students are learning to read music they are taught that the treble staff by Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (does fine or deserves favor) to remember the notes of each line as E, G, B, D, and F.
Acronyms-We often use acronyms to remember things as well. This can be done by taking the first letter of each word and making it into a remember-able word or phrase.
Rhymes and aliterations-You can use rhymes to remember things easily such as "Thirty days hath September, April, May, and November". You can also connect aliterations such as silly Sally, or Hefty Horace.
Jokes-Our brains are much more likely to remember funny things or ridiculous things then they will the regular boring everyday sort so if you turn the regular boring everyday sort into things that are funny or crazy you are more likely to remember them.
"Chunking"-We do this regularly with numbers. We have broken up Social Security numbers and phone numbers. It is easier to remember the small segments that make up the whole rather then having to remember the whole on its own. You can do this with other things. If you have ten things to buy at the store it might be hard to remember them, however if you group them into categories and arrange those categories according to the sections you arrive at you are more likely to remember them. For example: Bananas and onions could be grouped together for fruits and vegetables. Waffles and frozen pizza could be grouped together as frozen foods. Milk and yogurt in the dairy aisle. And so on.
Tips to Help Out
While your memory is a valuable to tool you have to learn to work with it and for it. You can't hope that it will do all the work for you. Here are a few good tips that will help you get going.
- Organize your space. Have a logical place where you put things, especially those you need often (keys, cell phones, wallets or purses, and even money or credit cards). Make it a habit to put them there when you come back with them.
- Repeat things that you need to remember often. Such as names. If you are meeting someone for the first time, repeat their name (you don't even have to sound crazy). "It was nice meeting you, Jane" will be enough for you to remember the name better by adding it to your brain and hearing it, all while being polite.
- Write it down. If it is important then it is worth writing it down. This takes away some of the stress on your brain and makes it easier to remember.
- Practice. Practice remembering things when it doesn't matter. You can do this by playing memory, going through a deck of cards and remember their order, or going through the things you saw in the last block.
- Practice. Practice things when it does matter. Practice remembering numbers, working with mnemonics, and giving yourself clues and memories for things you need to remember.
- Practice. This is by far the most important part of it all. So, I will say it again. Practice!
It is true that as you age your brain doesn't work as well for you. However, no matter how old or how young you are you can have a better memory by improving your lifestyle, exercising your brain, learning to remember, and practicing it all! Start today for a more rememberable tomorrow!