The older we get, the more our heads seem to get hazy and our memory begins to escape us. Details we used to remember when we were younger may have suddenly become unaccessible, but luckily, there are certain daily habits we can do that can help improve our memory. Practicing these habits everyday can not only help boost our brain power in the moment, but also improve our cognitive function overall.
"Our habits can hinder or help memory," says psychologist Dorian Crawford, PsyD, LMHC to Bustle over email. "For example, attempting to focus on too many things at once — as we often do in our busy lives — prevents us from assigning information to our working memory. As a result, we forget appointments, cannot remember where we put our phone, or walk into a room with no idea why we went in there."
We've all experienced these pesky brain farts and lamented the forgetfulness of our memory, but we don't have to resign ourselves to a foggy-brained fate. Our brain's accessibility to memory is not fixed, and we have the power to strengthen it with certain activities. If you find that your mind needs a little boost, consider practicing these six daily habits that can help improve memory and focus.
Studies from the University of British Columbia found that regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for for verbal memory and learning. Exercise stimulates the release of chemicals in the brain that can help improve memory through the growth of new blood vessels along with preservation of new brain cells. "In addition, stress and worry both become less invasive when you exercise daily," says Crawford. "This can alleviate the negative impact those emotions have on our minds and bodies, leaving us clear headed and refreshed."
2. Take A Nap
Memories are consolidated when you sleep, and it seems a brief nap can help supercharge the storage of these memories. Researches from Saarland University found that sleeping for one hour can improve your memory by fivefold. A short burst of rapid oscillations in the electroencephalogram (EEG) occurs during this rest period, and it is this "sleep spindle" that is responsible for the quick transfer from information from short-term to long-term memory.
Research in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science shows that socializing can boost executive function as much as playing a brain game like a crossword puzzle. Even just 10 minutes of engaging, non-competitive conversation can improve your cognitive performance and suppress internal and external distractions.
4. Keep Lists
"Keeping lists and writing things on paper — as old-fashioned as it sounds — can also help memory," says Crawford. 'Writing requires you to engage your body in the memory process, providing extra attention to the task at hand. After you write something down, read it out loud to yourself to really solidify the thought."
5. Avoid Multi-Tasking
"Attempting to focus on too many things at once, as we often do in our busy lives, prevents us from assigning information to our working memory," says Crawford. "Be mindful or present in your current conversation. If your mind is already moving on to the next appointment, grocery list, or errand, your brain is not encoding the information happening in the here and now."
6. Eat A Healthy Diet
A diet rich in the right vitamins and nutrients can provide power to your brain. Studies have found that people who eat a predominantly Mediterranean diet (filled with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats), show more protection against cognitive impairment and demonstrate a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to Harvard Health.
Keeping your body healthy and in shape and your brain sharp with constant activity can preserve your memory and encourage active growth of brain cells to ensure a clear and focused future.
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