Reminder: You Need to Look into These Memory Tricks!
Remember that time you got sick and tired of forgetting important things and promised yourself you’d look into improving your memory? No? Hmmm…
Well, here’s the thing, as we age our ability to remember thoughts, ideas, mental notes, things to do, or where we put something starts to get a little fuzzy. Even more notable is the large amount of emerging research showing that our short term memory is basically being obliterated by our consumption of technology.
When we combine our societal dependance on technology with the natural reduction of cognitive ability as we age, we get a recipe for disaster! Every year it seems the average amount of time an adult spends with their face in a screen increases, and every year the warning articles fall on deaf ears. Social media, streaming TV, and cat photos are just too captivating to look away from.
Research says our memory will start to fail for a few main reasons: age and overall cognitive ability, stress and distraction.
The good news is we can combat all three of these reasons and work to preserve and improve our short term and long term memory and mental awareness!
Our Top Tips and Tricks for Safely Boosting Your Memory
- Remove Digital Distractors. This tip is simple, but it’s not easy. Our electronic devices are the ultimate distraction, and when we are constantly exposing our mind to multiple channels of input, like the feed on your phone, the worry about your big meeting at work tomorrow, that feeling of hunger because it’s dinner time, and your spouse asking you to take out the trash before you leave in the morning… There is a good chance you will not remember to take the trash out. In fact, it’s a good bet you won’t even remember your spouse asking! A good rule of thumb is to put the phone down, mute the TV, or pause the game and look someone in the eye when having a conversation. This singular focus will give your brain the bandwidth to record to memory any necessary information.
- Limit Screen Time. It is no longer debatable that there is a direct correlation between the amount of screen time we expose ourselves to, and the reduction of of critical thinking, problem solving, memory and creativity. When your mom used to tell you too much TV was turning you into a zombie, she didn’t realize how right she was! Did you know the average American adult is exposed to over 7 hours of screen time a day (And this is outside of work hours!) Well, according to the CDC the average adult should limit their TOTAL screen time to less 2 hours, and these restrictions get tighter for children and teenagers. In case you already forgot, there is a direct correlation between too much screen time and ADHD, health problems, and you guessed it… a decline in memory among other cognitive problems.
- Exercise! Exercise reduces stress, which is a main contributor to poor memory, boosts blood flow to the brain, which supports neural health and it stimulates the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain associated with learning and memory.
- Eat to Support Your Brain! Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, are shown to boost brain matter and function (after all our brain is composed of over 60% fat). Conversely, studies show those with low intake of omega-3’s have a higher chance of poor cognitive function and cognitive decline. Moderate amounts of coffee have also been tied to increased memory function, due to its ability to increase alertness. Finally, seek out foods rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, strawberries, kale, walnuts, cranberries and more. Antioxidants reduce oxidation and inflammation in the body, enhancing overall brain function.
- Play Analog Games to Strengthen Focus. Playing games like crosswords, Sudoku, riddles, puzzles and chess all exercise your mental muscles and help you strengthen your ability to stay focused on one task, hold information in your mind and yes… boost memory!
- Meditate. Mediation is a mental exercise all about staying focused in the moment and improving concentration, mindfulness and peacefulness with yourself and the world. Many experts agree meditation is one of the most effective ways to improve memory. It strengthens focus, it stimulates many areas of the brain, some of which are rarely stimulated outside of a focused meditation practice, it accesses the subconscious and it has been shown to enhance the areas of the brain associated with memory.
So much of memory is tied to awareness, focus and being in the moment without mental or environmental distractions. By reducing screen time, exercising, eating well and taking care of your mental health, you are basically choosing to plug your mind and body back into the world in a way that keeps you focused, alert, and healthy… All of which have been proven to enhance memory and critical thinking abilities!