Occasionally forgetting a friend’s birthday or a person’s name is annoying enough on its own, but it can get frustrating and even downright alarming if your memory lapses become more frequent.
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Not too long ago, memory loss was simply labeled a natural part of aging. Nowadays, we know it can happen to you at any age, thanks to the combination of stress, poor dieting and other habits of life like smoking or drinking alcohol.
You don’t have to accept memory trouble. Many studies, including one done at the University of Texas at Dallas, found that adults could improve their memories and boost their brainpower in a variety of ways. Try these five tips below to remember more and improve your mental muscle.
1. Group And Relate New Information
Relate new information to things you already know. We have an easier time remembering what we’re familiar with, so when you make that sort of connection with new data, you’ll have an easier time remembering it. Try this out when learning new names. Connect a new person’s name with that of someone you already know, which will make it easier to recall later.
Splitting info can also make it less of a chore to recall, especially when it comes to numbers. Separate a number into groups to make it a snap to remember. If you must remember the phone number 555-555-5456, for example, don’t try to memorize it as one long number, e.g., 5555555456. Split it into groups of three, 555, 555, 5456, instead.
2. Eat Right And Exercise
Eating right is common health advice, but did you know how you eat could affect your mental performance, too? Organic, whole foods are best, particularly those rich in antioxidants, which help prevent free radicals from wreaking havoc on your body and your brain.
Plan a healthier diet and aim for natural, antioxidant-rich foods, such as red beans, cranberries, blueberries and acai. Get your essential fatty acids and proteins from seeds and nuts, including almonds and pumpkin seeds.
Physical exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain and can improve your memory and thinking skills, according to Heidi Godman of “Harvard Health Letter.” Some studies have even suggested that the parts of the brain responsible for memory and thought are bigger in people who exercise than in people who don’t.
Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. You may have to shuffle your schedule or give up some TV time, but it’s worth it for both your brain and your body. Include both aerobic exercise, such as running, and weight lifting in your workout.
3. Get Your ZZZs
Sleep is vital for a properly functioning everything, from your body to your brain. A lack of sleep can fog your memory and dim your thinking skills, including problem solving and creative thought. Aim for the recommend eight hours of sleep each night. Create a wind down routine if you have trouble nodding off at night. Dim the lights and watch some TV or read a book in bed to encourage sleepiness more quickly.
4. Try A Little Meditating
A University of California at Santa Barbara study found that meditation could sharpen your memory and ability to focus. You don’t need to spend loads of time doing it, either, as study participants showed improvement with just 10 minutes of meditation each day. Take a bit of time daily to do some basic meditation exercises, such as deep breathing and focusing on a sensory experience like eating a piece of fruit.
5. Lessen Your Stress
Stress can wreak havoc on your long and short-term memory. Eliminate the little things that add to your stress each day. For example, if you’re running around each morning, lay out what you need the night before. Do whatever you can to make your days less hectic and more relaxed for a memory jolt!