Sometimes things meant to be funny aren’t so much. Like the story of two lovely little old ladies that were talking when one said, “My memory is so bad.” Her friend said, “How bad is it?” She retorted, “How bad is what?” Kinda funny, kinda sad. Another person lamented, “Not only is my short term memory horrible, but so is my short term memory.” I heard another person say, “When you get older you lose three things; your memory and...I can’t remember the other two.”
For Christmas my oldest daughter gave me a wonderful gift called “Find Your Stuff.” It’s a computer app and small discs that claim you’ll never lose your stuff again. I don’t know whether to be grateful or insulted by her thought. My concern up front is if I install it on my iphone, how do I use it if I can’t remember where I put my iphone?
You want to be able to remember things? Well, the first rule is pay attention. We tend to remember things that are important or closely connected to us or are funny and entertaining. Whether it’s a name, a fact, an event, or just where you put your keys—when you meet that new person or put your checkbook down stop for just a moment, repeat it in your mind, momentarily do away with competing thoughts, and even jot it down. Make a connection.
Use it or lose it is the age-old accepted rule when it comes to muscles. Well, think of your brain as a muscle and regularly do mental exercises like puzzles, games, hobbies, learning a foreign language, as well as listening to music, playing an instrument, and reading.
You also have to feed your brain. There are a huge number of different nutrients that I would classify as “brain foods,” but I would like to mention just a few. A deficiency of the B vitamins, especially B6, B9, and B12 has been associated with memory loss and cognitive decline. The brain is constantly being bombarded by free radicals and oxidative forces. Vitamins A, C, D, and E are strong antioxidants that help protect the brain from this barrage as well as enhance circulation. Minerals that are important to memory and cognition are calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc. There are a number of herbs that have a tonic effect on the central nervous system and are believed to improve memory such as ginseng, gotu kola, gingko, and green tea. Omega 3 fatty acids decrease inflammation and there is new evidence that indicates they may even decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Want delicious brain power food? Load your menu with avocados, blueberries, walnuts, and broccoli.
There is a huge body of evidence now that directly correlates physical fitness with mental fitness. Regular aerobic exercise increases neurotransmitter levels for those like dopamine and serotonin, as well as improves oxygenation in the brain. People who walk, run, bike, and swim regularly show improved academic performance and general recall. It also helps you sleep better which is critical to memory. Don’t get discouraged, you don’t have to be a gym rat, just be physically active.
Think about it, do you really want to rely on a bow around your finger, or have post-its plastered all over your mirror? Or would you rather try to keep that marvelous computer between your ears fast and accurate by following these simple suggestions?