We've all done it, forget someone's name or a place we visited. It happens, and it's not always a sign of a memory problem. The fact is, memory fades a bit as we age. However, aging doesn't have to mean you become forgetful or lose your precious memories. Memory is more than just remembering your childhood, your first kiss, or what you saw on your last vacation. Memory is also what helps you learn new information, retain it, and recall it when you need to. Since memory is an essential function of our brain, we need to keep it healthy.
The good news is, there are things you can do to preserve and even improve your memory. Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally can help you keep your memory working well for as long as possible. Wondering how to do that? Here are five ways you can boost your memory to keep it in tip-top shape.
Feed Your Brain Well
Eat well to boost memory? That sounds strange, doesn't it? Well, the fact is, diet plays a huge role in brain health. Memory experts have been looking at food and how it might affect brain health. What they've found is that certain foods contain specific nutrients that help to keep your brain healthy. Nutrients such as vitamins, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and flavonoids have been linked to improved cognitive performance among healthy older people. For example, the nutrients contained in foods such as avocados, berries, and extra virgin olive oil are linked with decreased cognitive decline. Diets such as the DASH Diet or Mediterranean Diet may be helpful. Of course, you always want to discuss dietary changes with your doctor to ensure you're eating the foods that are right for your health needs.
Get Your Beauty Rest
There is probably nothing more important than getting good, quality sleep of all the things you can do for your health. Did you know that when you're sleeping, your brain is hard at work removing toxins, storing memories, preparing itself, and preparing for the coming day? While you sleep, your brain is cleaning itself of the toxins that build up during the day. These toxins have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's dementia.
Sleep has also been linked to memory. Not just sleep but your sleep patterns and the quality of your sleepover time can affect your ability to recall information about past events. So, not only is getting enough sleep important, it's also important to be consistent with your sleep habits so that your brain is well-rested and ready to work at its best.
Exercise Your Brain
This tip is a fun one because there are a million ways to exercise your brain. You can do puzzles or play games. You can learn a new skill or language. Studies have found that people who learn new skills and engage in cognitively demanding activities tend to have a better memory function and a sense of well-being than those who choose less cognitively demanding activities.
Activities like these are thought to protect the brain by creating a "cognitive reserve." They may help the brain become more adaptable and able to compensate for age-related brain changes and health conditions that affect the brain as we age.
Some other ideas for keeping your brain active include:
- Read a book
- Take a class
- Learn to play an instrument
- Take up a new hobby
Having a group of friends and socializing with others plays a crucial role in keeping your brain healthy. Getting together with friends and doing things together requires you to use lots of your brainpower. Studies have consistently shown that people who regularly socialize with others tend to have better memory and cognitive function than those who are more isolated. And getting together with others improves overall feelings of well-being and happiness. Having a healthy social life has been linked to better overall health too.
Manage Your Stress
Stress can affect every part of your body, both physically and mentally. While some stress is normal and even beneficial, chronic stress is a problem. Chronic stress can change the brain over time, leading to problems with memory, decision making, mood instability, anxiety, and an increased risk for dementia.
Here are a few tips for taming your stress to protect your memory:
- Exercise: Physical activity helps to relieve stress and increases blood flow, even to your brain
- Practice relaxation: Try meditating or engaging in Tai Chi or gentle yoga
- Journal: Take some time each day to write and reflect
- Listen to music: Choose music that you find soothing