Did you know that 1 in 8 Americans over 60 experience memory loss? That’s right, and memory loss can seriously damage your quality of life.
Luckily, it’s never too soon to work on improving and maintaining your memory with a few simple practices.The work you put in now will help protect your cognitive function for the rest of your life — and most of the tips below will also benefit your overall health and wellbeing.
Not sure what you should be doing to maintain good memory? Keep reading to learn how diet, exercise, sleep, and mental activities can help improve your memory, no matter what age you are.
- Make Exercise Part of Your Daily Routine
Did you think improving your memory would be all about fancy brain training exercises? Not quite.
In fact, physical exercise can be massively beneficial to memory and thinking skills.
Regular moderate-intensity exercise boosts blood flow to the brain and promotes the growth of new blood vessels and brain cells. Exercise can literally change the physical structure of your brain.
Exercise also improves your overall mood and helps you sleep better. Since memory problems are often associated with poor sleep and low mood, exercise indirectly improves memory by addressing these issues.
One study showed that regular exercise over six months was associated with an increase in the volume of several brain regions, so put together a plan that you can stick to for at least half a year.
- Add Brain Foods to Your Diet
The kind of food we eat has a huge impact on cognitive function and memory. We’ve all felt the brain fog that comes from eating too much junk food, right?
If you want to improve your thinking skills, making the right food choices is essential. Keep reading for details on several top brain foods.
Fatty fish helps to ensure that you get enough omega-3, which is essential to brain function and helps to build new brain cells. It also helps protect against age-related issues like Alzheimer’s. Try adding salmon or sardines to your diet, or taking a supplement.
Coffee might already be your go-to when you need to work hard and remember lots at once, and there’s plenty of science to suggest that you’re doing the right thing. Coffee is high in antioxidants and has been linked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases.
Blueberries are another great superfood. They’re packed with antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties, and help boost communication between brain cells. Blueberries are really easy to throw into smoothies or onto a bowl cereal, so there’s no excuse not to work them into your diet.
Other foods that promote brain health include broccoli, turmeric, nuts and seeds, eggs, and dark chocolate. Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet, incorporating at least a few of the foods listed above, for an easy boost to your mood and memory.
- Get Enough High-Quality Sleep
Do you often stay up late working on projects? Or just scrolling on your phone? Getting enough sleep is essential to normal brain function, and missing even a few hours could make a dramatic difference to your memory.
As well as the quantity of sleep you’re getting, you should think about the quality. Do you regularly wake up during the night because of outside sounds, light pollution, or worries?
Try to create a better sleeping environment to improve sleep quality and boost memory. You could wear earplugs to block out sounds, avoid devices before bed, wear a sleep mask, and try journaling or meditating to reduce bedtime stress.
Your brain needs time to rest and recover, just like the rest of your body does. It’s especially important to sleep properly after doing something mentally taxing, like learning a new skill.
So, instead of revising for hours after a difficult class, try taking a nap — you’ll find that key facts are suddenly much easier to remember when you wake up.
- Use Visualization to Remember Things
Looking for specific tactics to help you remember strings of information, like names, directions, phone numbers, or facts? Using visualization techniques is a great way to remember almost anything.
Instead of trying to memorize a whole load of information in one go, try associating each part of what you need to remember with a different place, person, emotion, or object.
For example, if you’re trying to remember that somebody’s name is Catrina, you might think, ‘Catrina sounds like ‘cat”, and then imagine Catrina’s face on a cat’s body.
It might sound like a strange way to remember things, but this visualization technique creates memory ‘hooks’ which help you to access information that’s stored deep inside your brain.
If you’re trying to remember directions, imagine yourself walking down the streets as you listen to the directions, rather than just memorizing the actual words that you’re hearing.
Experiment with this tactic to see if it works for you — you might be surprised by how effective it is!
- Exercise Your Mind with Puzzles and Games
Want something you can do each day to give your brain a quick workout? Activities as simple as playing along with a quiz show, doing a crossword puzzle, or solving riddles can be really helpful for keeping your brain in top condition.
Playing games that involve memorizing information is a good tactic, and so is downloading brain training apps that you can play on your phone when you have a few spare minutes.
If you’re looking to make a bigger commitment to improving your memory, consider investing in cognitive coaching training. You’ll learn about all kinds of activities which can help improve mental functioning, and you’ll be able to share what you learn with loved ones.
How Can You Build a Good Memory?
Build and maintain a good memory by focusing on a healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of high-quality sleep. If you have time, you can further boost your memory with puzzles, games, and visualization techniques.
Working to improve your memory is beneficial no matter how old you are, and it’s never too late to start boosting your cognitive function. Want more tips on staying both mentally and physically healthy? Visit the health and fitness section of our blog for lots of ideas.