What we have locked up in our heads is more than simply important when we face a test or when our boss asks us a question we should know. Our memories define us, change how we view our world, carry us through hard times, and give us cause to laugh. There’s a reason we share stories over and over again. It fixes a memory in our minds, allows us to let go of stress by recreating the buildup and release in our minds, and can flood us with endorphins if the memory is pleasant or funny, even if it wasn’t so humorous at the time. Our memories can also be very useful in practical situations when we need to recall where we set down our keys or the name of the person we just ran into at a party.
Memory is precious and we should strive to keep it functioning well or, better yet, even improve upon it. As we age, this can become more difficult, but never forget our brains are elastic and can bounce back more than we think. An old dog can learn new tricks if he or she chooses. It is never too late to try to improve your memory, but you should start as early as possible.
Many things can negatively impact our memory. Ageing does not stand alone. Stress, depression, withdrawal from society, malnutrition, lack of sleep, drug abuse, and ceasing to challenge yourself also tear away at your memory. Don’t let them.
1. Release Stress – Meditation, tai chi, yoga, and deep breathing help. Take a break at work and allow yourself a moment to breathe and relax before going back to it. You will find your memory improve and come back sharper than when you dull it repeatedly with numbing tasks. Remember to be social too. Our brains thrive on interactions with others. Don’t withdraw from social experience. Your memory may depend on it.
2. Laugh – Laughter releases endorphins and can often help cement a memory. Some of our easiest memories to recall involve laughter. Laughing has healing properties too and it helps us let go of stress.
3. Sleep – Get enough sleep. Our brains rely on sleep to heal, let our subconscious play, and to fix memories in place. It’s easy to lose focus and have trouble remembering much of anything when you’re sleep deprived.
4. Exercise the Body – The brain’s health is tied directly to nutrition and proper nourishment. As you physically exercise, you improve blood flow to the brain so it gets the food and oxygen it needs to function at peak performance. Any physical exercise, especially cardio, improves the brain’s health.
5. Exercise the Mind – You can exercise mentally too. Try to get three hours of mental activity several times a week. Seek out things to stimulate your brain and make sure they are new, challenging, and fun. That is the perfect combination to make your mind work harder, faster, and smarter. Pick up a good book. Do random research on the internet. Watch a video on a subject that fascinates you. That’s what I do.
Nutrition is also important. You must eat well to give your brain the best food.
6. Water – Hydration is important to every function and process of the body, including the brain. Drink plenty of clean, pure water to keep things running smoothly.
7. Fiber – The brain requires a steady torrent of energy from the bloodstream to do its job. Fiber slows the absorption of carbohydrates from digestion, providing a stable supply of what your brain needs without the sugar spikes that will leave you overstimulated for a while followed by a foggy crash. Choose vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lentils, seeds, and nuts for good carbs and plenty of fiber. Activated Barley is a good way to get a dose of fiber and complex carbohydrates all at once in an easy to take way.
8. B Vitamins – B vitamins protect nerve cells from damage, aid in nerve repair, and increase energy flow to the brain. Find them in dark leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, lentils, nuts, and sea vegetables. Sunwarrior’s multivitamins are a whole-food, all-natural source too.
9. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – These good fats make up a large part of the brain, eyes, and nervous system as they are a vital part of the membranes of nerve cells. Omega 3s reduce the risk of dementia and may help prevent Alzheimer’s. They reduce inflammation, improve heart function, and lower cholesterol. Nuts and seeds are great sources for omega 3 fatty acids, especially chia, flax, and walnuts. Coconut oil, despite being mostly saturated fats, seems to do some very good things for the brain.
10. Antioxidants – Antioxidants protect the brain against dangerous free radicals, which are unstable, and toxic oxygen molecules that damage cells. Vitamins A, C, and E are all antioxidants and many other phytonutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables act as antioxidants too. Look for brightly colored fruits and vegetables, including dark green. Spinach, blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, spinach, cherries, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, citrus, and red grapes are all good places to get antioxidants.
12. Herbs – Many herbs have shown some promise in improving memory. Ginsing, ginko biloba, bacopa monnieri, gotu kola, hupiera serrate, rosemary, and sage have some effect on memory, mental clarity, and focus.