Are you feeling forgetful? Give your gray matter an upgrade with these handy tips.
Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten what you were there for, or found your car keys in the fridge after unpacking your groceries? Maybe you came to school on a day with a stopover?
We all have memory lapses from time to time, and in most cases it doesn’t mean there’s anything seriously wrong.
But it can be frustrating and since memory loss is a key early indicator of dementia, it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.
A report from the Alzheimer’s Society says there are currently 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK – a number expected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.
“Multitasking, social media, notifications, neuronal degeneration, certain medications, drugs and excessive alcohol can potentially damage our memory,” says Professor Hana Burianová, a cognitive neuroscientist who works with Healthspan.
“Maintaining a good memory not only helps reduce the risk of dementia, but also helps stave off mental decline as we age.
“You only have one brain – so take care of it!”
Professor Burianová recommends doing one or more of these activities daily to sharpen your memory.
Ironically, it can be easy to forget to keep track of memory training programs. So set an alarm or a habit stack – or combine them with something you already do every day, like brushing your teeth.
To be present
Whatever you do, stop and take five.
“Active mindfulness focuses our attention and our working memory,” says Professor Burianová.
“Look around you and name five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste.”
Involving all five senses strengthens your concentration, slows you down, and allows you to process things deeper in your mind, which helps your memory.
You don’t have to resort to the cryptic crossword puzzle straight away. Geography and word games can help improve your knowledge and strengthen your memory.
First, try Wordle, the online game where you make six attempts each day to guess a five-letter word, and its sister game Worldle, where you guess the country based on its shape.
“Both are challenging and require our concentration.
They stimulate brain plasticity – how the brain changes and responds to new information – and the areas of the brain that control how we pay attention and form memories,” explains Professor Burianová.
Just don’t cheat and grab a dictionary or map for help!
Alternative games include Framed, where you have to guess the movie based on the still image, or Semantle, where you try to uncover a hidden word based on other words with which it shares its meaning.
A new study from the University of York has found that older adults who play digital puzzle games have the same memory performance as people in their 20s.
Close your eyes
Hopefully your bedroom isn’t full of sharp corners, because getting dressed with your eyes closed or in the dark can feel strange at first since we’re so used to doing everything with our eyes open.
But Professor Burianová says it prevents us from driving on autopilot.
“Performing a routine activity in a new way brings it into our awareness and requires more concentration and long-term memory,” she explains.
However, it’s worth choosing the outfit you want to wear in advance to avoid a fashion faux pas!
Get the kids involved in this nostalgic game. Place a pile of household items on a table and have everyone observe them for 60 seconds.
Then cover up the dots before writing down what you remember.
You will be surprised how much fun this game can be. You can also set yourself memory tasks.
For example, instead of writing down your shopping list, try a new, memory-boosting trick to help you remember it: sing your list to a catchy song or create a memorable visual path for the things you need to buy.
For example, imagine skateboarding a fish stick on a ketchup lake surrounded by broccoli trees.
to have sex
Not only is sex great for relieving stress, lifting your mood and increasing your heart rate, but it also supports your mind!
“Sex releases feel-good hormones that help improve immune and cardiovascular functions and support cognitive and emotional processing, including our memory,” says Professor Burianová.
Feel free to treat yourself to a nap afterwards.
“Memory traces – the way in which memories are stored – are consolidated during sleep.
“They are embedded in our complex memory network and sleep is extremely important for memory.
“During sleep, the brain is also cleaned of pathogens, including protein deposits that can cause Alzheimer’s,” she adds.
Find your voice
Do you find it difficult to remember names?
When you meet someone new for the first time, repeat their name as you shake hands and try to include it two or three more times in the conversation to make it stick in your mind.
Research shows that saying a name out loud or simply saying it to ourselves helps us remember it longer.* Alternatively, you can record new information so you can listen to it again.
Grab your phone and record voice notes, thoughts and memories. So if you meet a lot of people or are on the way back from meeting a new mom on the way to school, try recording a voice note describing who you met and their names and what they look like.
Listen to it a few times to really make sure you remember the key details.
Find a beat
Choose your favorite dance tunes, make a yoga video or move your body however you like, because physical activity is great for the health of your brain and memory and helps pump oxygen through the body’s cells.
“When our oxygen levels are low, we feel sluggish, mentally tired and unfocused, which affects memory,” says Professor Burianová.
Physical activity also activates the lymphatic and glymphatic systems – these are part of the immune system and help remove pathogens, including viruses, infections, bacteria and waste, from the body and brain.
“Exercise also helps our brain by supporting the production of new neurons and connections, and it also helps improve concentration, which leads to better memory,” says Professor Burianová.
Ball sports are particularly effective, especially those that require learning rules and mastering hand-eye coordination skills, such as cricket, badminton, tennis and basketball.
WHEN YOU SHOULD VISIT YOUR GP
Professor Burianová says it might be helpful to make a doctor’s appointment if you experience the following symptoms.
- Extreme difficulty concentrating and/or remembering.
- Extreme fatigue and/or brain fog.
- Problems finding words or expressing yourself.
- Inability to ignore irrelevant things.
- Inability to organize thoughts.
- Danger to yourself or others, e.g. B. if you forget to turn off the oven.