We all want to boost our memory, but we are not always sure how to do it.
We work hard with a fair degree of success to keep our bodies in better shape than many more slothful younger people. And Prime Women and many other sources offer lots of advice and information on how to do this.
But we still fear the mental symptoms that are often associated with old age. Memory loss is often noticed in elderly people and is something we definitely want to avoid ourselves. Fortunately, we now know what it takes to retain and boost our memory.
Memory is a brain function so whatever allows our brain to function better will also help us find the car keys or put a name to that half-familiar face. Very conveniently, the following 7 steps that we can take to make our brains and memories work better are largely the same ones that keep us physically healthy and looking good.
Improve Your Diet
Eating more vegetables and fruit and less sugar and refined carbohydrates helps your brain function better and keeps your memory sharper. That it also does great things for your waistline is a side benefit.
Get Enough sleep
Not only our memories, but also our moods and many of our bodily functions deteriorate when we are not well-rested. We need those 7 or 8 hours of sleep. A regular bedtime and cutting down the screen time before bed will help. Resting before we get too tired will also help.
Reduce Your Alcohol
A quarantini ( the drink of your choice at a virtual cocktail party) won’t hurt you, but we have all seen what excess alcohol can do to mental behaviors over both the short and the long run. And it does not have to go as far as not remembering what you did last night. As with other things, a little moderation goes a long way.
What happens in our minds when we can’t remember something like where we left our purse? Panic and pandemonium are not uncommon. Our head fills with a string of unprintable words as we flap about, often looking in the same places over and over.
This is the exact opposite of the mindfulness that results from meditation. A mind calmed by sitting quietly on a regular basis deals with a lost purse by quietly thinking of where it was last seen and what has happened since then; most often leading to its recovery. The emotions involved become relief and happiness.
Exercise Your Body
Keeping physically active will not only help boost our memory in the short run. There is also increasing evidence that more movement improves the odds of avoiding the much-feared mental disorders like dementia.
Exercise, like a more plant-based diet, reduces inflammation which helps your memory, your brain and the rest of you.
In the long run, more exercise can make you sharper and more with it as you age. In the short run, a gentle walk can help you recall what you wanted to tell someone in your next text to them.
Exercise Your Mind
Use it or lose it applies to memory and mental functions as well as physical ones. We can exercise our brains using computer games and challenges or good old fashioned crosswords and Sudoku.
People who keep socially active (even when limited to the virtual) have sharper mental functions and memories than those who are more socially isolated.
Any activity that feels difficult is exercising our brain, expanding our memory and creating new neural pathways. It could be learning a new language, a new musical instrument or a new computer system. It could be taking up a new sport or using your less dominant hand for ordinary tasks like eating.
The Best Memory
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat. I learned it from a remembered and admired school teacher when I was ten years old. He said, “the best memory is the worst pencil”.
If you are worried about whether you will remember something, write it down. You do not have to just rely on your memory. Do not be afraid to use back-up systems.
That was long ago. We rarely use pencils anymore, but we can still note things in other ways such as a reminder in our electronic calendars or on our phones. Finally, we definitely need a secure system to remind us how to use other devices to ring our phones when we do not remember where we put them!