Check out these do’s and don’ts to incorporate into your busiest life and the more of them you add and stick to it, the better for your memory.
1. Forget which number bus you took By forgetting you don’t need to know – such as which bus you took last week – you are freeing up space in your memory. Research carried out at the University of Illinois in the USA showed that people who were good at discarding unnecessary information were also good at problem solving. They were also better at hanging on to memories when they were in distracting situations. Trying to remember too much can cause loss of mental acuity. So don’t fret if you can’t remember things of no great consequence, it just means your brain is doing its job of prioritizing information.
2. Learn a poem a day: Learning verses off by heart gives those memory muscles a helpful workout. According to research carried out in the USA, a septuagenarian who started training his memory at the age of 58 can now recite all 60,000 words of John Milton’s Paradise lost with amazing accuracy. With enough time and effort anyone can do it. If you don’t fancy poetry, try memorizing some useful telephone numbers or post codes.
3. Let your hands do the talking: Using your hands to express what you are saying can help you to remember better. A study conducted by the University of Chicago in the USA revealed that people who gesticulated most had a more retentive memory than those who kept their hands to themselves. The researchers think using gestures may free up thinking space and therefore leave more ‘room’ for memory.
4. Work up a sweat: Try to do some type of regular activity that gets you slightly sweaty and breathless. You know this is good for your general health but, in addition, aerobic exercise boosts blood flow to the brain helping the hippocampus, the area associated with memory, to flourish. A small study of adults in their 60’s found that going on the treadmill just three times a week for a year reversed age-linked loss of brain volume by one or two years and improved spatial memory. Choose exercise that is not so intense that you can’t chat to a companion – brisk walking, jogging or running, swimming, dancing or anything that works up a sweat.
5. Be a chatterbox: Chatting could help you remember. A team of psychologists from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research in the USA found that talking to someone for at least 10 minutes a day was good intellectual exercise – in fact, they discovered that chatting was as effective as more traditional kinds of mental exercise, such as puzzles and games, for boosting memory. So cement your memories by having a regular chinwag with your friends and family.
6. Get 8 hours sleep: While you’re asleep your memories are fixed in the brain, making later retrieval possible. A study carried out by American researchers in 2010 showed that as well as consolidating information, the brain is also organizing memories and picking out the most salient information during those night-time hours. Scientist think sleep may not only make memories stick but could also help you to come up with creative new ideas. Numerous experiments have found that going to sleep shortly after learning new facts or skills helps your brain reinforce its memory traces. It doesn’t matter if it is a good night’s sleep or a quick afternoon nap, as long as you go into a deep sleep. And to maximize the benefit to your memory, try to get about 8 hours sleep most nights.
7. Build memory with ‘me’ time: Keep your stress levels down by taking time out to do something relaxing and enjoyable every day. Studies show that high levels of cortisol, one of the main stress hormones, can damage the hippocampus, the part of the brain most closely involved with memory.
8. Don’t concentrate too hard: The secret to better recall could lie in timing. Give yourself time to ruminate but move on from those ‘tip to the tongue’ moments. Humans move between ‘areas’ in their memories much as bees flit between flowers for pollen. A US study in which college students were asked to name as many animals as they could in 3 minutes found that those who stayed too long or not long enough on one task recalled fewer animals than those who were adept at switching between areas. Chances are that the information you want to retrieve will come to you if you don’t dwell too long on one illusive challenge.
9. Get rid of the smoke from your lungs and you will be doing your memory a favour: Smokers have poorer recall because less oxygen reaches the brain. But the encouraging news is that research reveals that once you quit, your ability to remember everyday things can improve. In a recent UK study, a group of smokers, previous smokers and people who had never smoked were asked to do certain tasks at specific places on a tour of a campus. Smokers remembered 59 per cent of the tasks, those who had given up remembered 74 per cent and the non-smokers 81 per cent. If you want to keep your memory strong, give up smoking without delay. Ask your doctor for the help you need to do this.
10. Brush and floss twice a day It may surprise you to know that taking care of your teeth can help to keep your brain sharp. Numerous studies have shown that gum disease caused by poor oral hygiene may trigger inflammatory chemicals, which could affect areas of the brain involved in memory loss. Brush and floss twice daily and see your dental hygienist regularly.
|Try this quick and easy relaxation exercise to clear your mind of unnecessary information. Choose a quiet time of day and a place where you won’t be disturbed: