7 Tips on How to Train Your Brain and Improve Your Memory

Our memory is the part of the brain where we encode, store
and retrieve information. There are two types: our short term (or working
memory) and long-term memory. Short-term memory is how we remember things
temporarily, and it is thought that we can hold around seven items here at any one
time. When we no longer need this information however, it leaves us – unless it
makes it to our long-term memory. When we keep coming back to information, this
can be committed to a more permanent part of our brain.

There are many ways that we can boost our brain power and
improve our short and long-term memory, so here are seven ways that you
can start today!

Eating brain foods

There are some foods considered to be better than others for
our memory, and therefore the preservation of our brains. According to
research, the following “superfoods” can help:

Green, leafy vegetables: These, as well as other
plant-based foods, can potentially help your memory. This is because they are
rich in healthy nutrients that are thought to slow cognitive decline.

Berries: We hear a lot about flavonoids when it comes
to our brain, which are the natural plant pigments in berries. In a 2012 study
published in the Annals of Neurology, researchers found that women who consumed
two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries per week were able to
delay their memory decline.

Omega-3: Fatty fish offers a lot of Omega-3 acids,
which are healthy unsaturated fats thought to improve memory. It is recommended
that you try to eat fish at least twice per week, but choose those low in
mercury such as salmon, cod or canned tuna. Alternatively, if you don’t like
fish, talk to a medical professional about taking a supplement instead.

Exercising regularly

It sometimes feels like the answer to everything is
exercise, but it really does help in every way. Not only does it improve our
fitness and get those good endorphins flowing – but the secretion of
neuroprotective proteins could also help our cognitive abilities. In fact,
research at the University of British Columbia has found that regular aerobic
exercise could boost the size of the brain area that helps us with memory.

Utilising brain training apps

However, not everything we do has to be about eating healthy
and exercising. Why not give your brain a workout instead? One trial found that
people who did 15 minutes of brain training activities 5 days per week were
able to see improvements in their brain function. There are many great ways you
can try this, including the likes of websites Lumosity and Game Show.

Playing board games

What could be better than boosting your brain power and
improving your memory, while having fun with friends or family? In fact, it
seems boards games could well be a winning combo. Firstly, the areas of the
brain responsible for memory formation is the hippocampus and prefrontal
cortex, which are what we use when we play. Secondly, board games have the
added benefit of being sociable, and one study suggests that those with very
active social lives have the slowest memory decline. And considering a recent survey has shown the
top emotions evoked when playing board games was satisfaction (82%),
friendliness (81%) and enthusiasm (76%), it seems game playing is beneficial all
round.

Becoming mindful with meditation

One way to improve your memory is through meditation. A recent
study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training can better your
cognitive abilities. This is not surprising really, since so much of meditation
is about focusing for longer, without letting other (less important!) distractions
in. There are many ways that you can learn meditation, even doing it from the
comfort of your own home using apps such as The Mindfulness App, Headspace or
Calm.

Sleeping for a scheduled amount of time

Some people make the mistake of skipping on sleep to cram more
into their day. However, this doesn’t only compromise your physical and mental
wellbeing, but your creativity, problem-solving and memory skills, too.
According to Harvard, adults need 7.5-8.5 hours in order to be at their functioning
best. There are some rules you can put in place to help; try to go to bed at
the same time every night, as well as avoiding any devices before bedtime,
particularly those that emit a blue light.

Finding a new hobby

Finally, brain exercises should involve something you need
to learn, rather than something you’ve already mastered. Choose a new
hobby – whether that be learning an instrument, a language or even a craft. Challenging
tasks that require you to work through levels or stages offers the perfect
opportunity to push yourself a little further each time, in turn, expanding
your memory.

Sources:

‘How Memory Works’
https://bokcenter.harvard.edu/how-memory-works

‘Your Short-Term Memory Can Only Hold
7 Items’
https://curiosity.com/topics/your-short-term-memory-can-only-hold-7-items-but-you-can-use-this-trick-curiosity/

‘Foods
Linked to Better Brain Power’
https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower

‘Role
of Exercise on the Brain’
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5091051/

Regular Exercise Changes the Brain to
Improve Memory, Thinking Skills
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

‘Mental
Exercising Through Simple Socializing’
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167207310454

‘Playing
Board Games, Cognitive Decline and Dementia’
https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/8/e002998

‘Top 10 Health Benefits of Board Games’
https://howgameareyou.com/health-benefits-board-games/


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