Memory is like a muscle. It needs to be nourished and worked out to maintain peak performance. Whether worn out from overuse, underuse, or age, here are five ways to improve memory.
Learn a New Hobby
When people do memory-intensive tasks at work, they might find themselves in a fog after a long day. By the end of the week, they feel like zombies. To guard against this, find a hobby that stimulates other parts of the brain. Consider:
Learning an instrument
Taking up crafting like knitting, drawing, or painting
Playing word games or doing crosswords
New hobbies don't just work out different parts of the brain — they can also decrease symptoms of depression.
Develop Better Sleeping Habits
To wind down after a long day, many people fall asleep holding their phones or watching television. Kept awake by a racing mind, a person might fall asleep faster with background noise from their favorite show.
While that may be true, artificial light reduces melatonin production and interrupts a person's sleep cycle. Without realizing it, people who sleep with a television on deprive themselves of deep sleep. Because our brains process memories while we sleep, this can lead to forgetfulness, even if we feel like we've had a good night's rest.
It may take a while, but try to avoid screen time around bedtime.
Eat a Brain-healthy Diet
About 60% of the brain is made of fat and much of that fat is made of omega-3 fatty acids. To bolster all that gray matter, eat foods rich in omega-3 and antioxidants such as:
Fatty fish including tuna and salmon
You can also supplement omega-3 with fish oil and other supplements if dietary restrictions keep you away from most of these foods. Always consult a doctor before any drastic changes in your diet, though.
It may seem like exercise is everyone's answer to everything, but that's because it's largely true. Exercise has many direct and indirect benefits for memory.
Exercise reduces inflammation and promotes healthy blood flow to the brain. With an active circulatory system, new brain cells have the chance to grow and thrive.
Indirectly, exercise has also been shown to decrease stress and anxiety — two of the biggest contributors to brain fog and sour moods. While a short walk might do wonders for aches and pains, it can also help people clear their minds.
According to AARP, socializing is linked to improved cognition and preventing conditions such as Alzheimer's and dementia. Experts aren't entirely sure why, but seniors that maintain social circles seem to be more cerebrally-sound than those who don't.
Talking with others keeps our brains busy, exposes us to new ideas, and when interacting with trusted friends, allows us to process problems in different ways. Whether you're blowing off steam with coworkers or catching up with old friends, you're doing your brain a big favor.
Mix It Up for Better Memory
Memory is complex. To keep it fit and happy, you need to stimulate it in diverse ways. The next time you feel like you're stumbling around in a haze, add something new and enriching to your routine.
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