Without memory, we cannot perform even simplest jobs in our everyday lives. Memory lapse can lead us astray at work, home and everywhere else. Research shows that memory declines as we grow older. Hence, it is important to keep our memory exercised to be mentally active.
Studies have shown that cognitive decline is also influenced by our lifestyle. Insomnia, lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet with too much stress can have adverse effect on our memory functions. But the good news is memory can be improved.
Hippocampus (memory centre) in the brain is found to have regenerative abilities and it can grow new cells well into the age of 90 and above. However for Hippocampus to grow new cells certain ‘brain boosting’ practices are necessary. Some of the best ‘how to improve memory’ techniques are:
1. Mindfulness meditation
In a research by Astin J.A, Department of Psychology and Social Behaviour, University of California, it was found that during 8-weeks of mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction program, study participants in the experiment group exhibited decreased psychological symptomology, increased sense of control and spiritual experiences. The results pointed toward the possibilities of powerful cognitive behavioural coping strategy in the face of stressful events. Memory can improve in significant ways when the stress levels are reduced as alertness of the mind increases.
How to improve memory through diet? According to a research by The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, a twelve-week supplementation of blueberries in the diet promotes working memory. The study participants were able to see effects within three weeks. Blueberries are rich in Flavanoids that fights free radicals in the body. Researchers have attributed Flavanoids with brain boosting abilities.
3. Remember to sleep well
Sleep has restorative effects on our body. Sleep is refreshing and rejuvenating. German researchers reveal that short naps are equally beneficial to improve memory. Short naps are effective memory boosters especially after learning new information. Naps are known to improve productivity and many organizations encourage their employees to take a short nap during lunch recess.
4. Active lifestyle boosts memory functions
Researchers at The Centre for BrainHealth, University of Texas, Dallas have found that an active physical exercise routine aging adults to improve their memory function, brain health and fitness. People need to exercise regularly to “stay mentally sharp”.
5. Learn something new
Learning is known to stimulate the brain. Research on the neurological basis of occupation by Gutman SA, Schindler VP, New York, showed that meaningful activities reduce the risk of stress and dementia. When there is an activity that holds attention, it can certainly help in stress reduction and improved memory.
6. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking may be the “need of the hour” to suit our busy schedules but according to many studies multitasking leads to short memory lapses. Multitasking is distracting and it does not increase awareness or alertness. Many people think that multitasking is essential to complete tasks faster but in reality, multitasking slows you down. As a result, productivity is reduced and it can also cause stress.
7. Brain Gymnastics
Brain plasticity decreases if there is no stimulus to exercise our brain. Brain games like puzzles, Sudoku etc. can provide the necessary stimulus to challenge the brain. However, brain’s plasticity increases only when there is a meaningful stimulus that can hold attention.
8. Improve social and personal relations
One of the many reasons for stressful lifestyle is isolation or lack of socializing. As humans are social beings, interacting with family and friends can be very uplifting and relaxing. People find time in their busy schedules to unwind and socialize. The interactions not only reduce stress but it creates a sense of wellness and security resulting in better brain health.
9. Visualize for improved memory
Visualizing helps in improved memory recall. Visualization engages us in meaningful purposes and most of us learn better through visuals. Visualization works through substitute words, associations and visuals. The visualizing technique is beneficial for students in particular.
10. Seek medical attention
If the memory loss is sudden and unexplainable, it is better to consult with the healthcare provider to determine underlying medical issues that are causing memory lapses. Aside from Dementia and Alzheimer’s there is a host of other diseases that are associated with memory loss:
Hormonal imbalance- menopausal women often experience forgetfulness due to hormonal imbalance.
Diabetes- There are several studies that show the association of cognitive issues with diabetes.
Cardio-vascular diseases are also known to cause cognitive impairments
Memory declines with an advancing age however; we can increase and improve our memory functions with certain techniques like meditation, healthy lifestyle etc. Aside from the best techniques on how to improve memory, it is beneficial to make certain behavioural changes like active listening, understanding information and revising the acquired information can help one to remember better.