By Sarah Jio
What’s the name of your grand daughter, and where did you put your keys again? If you’ve ever wished you could do some simple things to sharpen your memory skills, you can.
1. Talk with your hands.
It may sound strange, but waving your hands and gesturing while trying to learn a concept may help. Gesturing in a meaningful way while you are learning may help you when recalling the concept. The idea is that you are storing at least two different types of information about something you’ll need to recall later. When you’ve just learned someone’s name, “write” it down on the palm of your hand with your finger. The act of tracing the letters on your palm (discreetly, of course) can help your brain remember it.
2. Take a chill pill.
Learning to calm down and not carry as much stress can help your brain in significant ways. Research shows that when people experience chronic stress, their hippocampus—the part of your brain that is responsible for some memories—literally shrinks in size. People who are easily distressed and had more negative emotions were more likely to develop memory problems than more easygoing people. How to reduce your stress? Consider delegating more tasks at work, clearing your social calendar for the weekend (there’s nothing wrong with having nothing on the calendar!) and purging negative relationships from your life.
3. Get plenty of zzz’s.
You’ve heard the concept of “sleeping on it” when you’re faced with a problem or difficult decision, right? Well, getting a good night’s sleep can help you improve your memory, too. “Sleep is critical for memory consolidation. Getting at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep following exposure to new information can help in the recall of that information.” But there’s an important side note: “The trick is going directly to bed without inserting any new information or activity between what you want to recall and going to sleep—no reading, no TV, no sex, no music.”
4. Eat more fruits and veggies.
Eating your spinach—and carrots and peas—is not only good for your body, it’s good for your memory, too. A recent Harvard study found that people who ate more vegetables had a slower decline of brain function as they aged. “Other studies, such as one published in Pharmacology, have shown that essential brain-boosting nutrients found in certain produce, such as quercetin and anthocyanin, may reverse memory loss
5. Join a book club.
Not only is reading great for your brain, but discussing what you’ve read can improve your memory by leaps and bounds. In fact, a book club with your closest girlfriends may help strengthen your brain’s frontal lobe function. “The frontal lobe is the last region of the brain to develop, but the first to decline with age. “To strengthen function of the frontal lobe, engage in deeper-level thinking activities such as interpreting what you read in a book, discussing the ‘larger messages’ in the book and pushing to see how many meanings you can derive from it.”
6. Pay attention.
It may sound obvious, but according to experts, when most people think they’re having memory problems, it’s really because they were distracted or didn’t record the information in their brain properly to begin with.. “When people cannot retrieve information it is often because they haven’t taken it in in the first place. “You cannot recall information that you did not store.” The number-one trick to paying closer attention? Stop multitasking and be fully present. That means setting down the BlackBerry while lunching with your friend, turning off the TV when you’re trying to read something and not letting your eyes—or mind—wander when chatting with someone at a party. You’ll be more likely to remember the person’s name.
7.. Go ahead and doodle.
When’s the last time you grabbed a pencil and paper and let your mind go—drawing hearts and rainbows, or whatever scene or object popped into your head? Surprisingly, a free-flowing pen could be the key to strengthening your brain’s memory centers. “Doodling has been found in studies to boost concentration, which is an essential first step to learning and memory.
“After all, if you can’t focus on information, you don’t acquire it effectively, and you can never remember something you don’t learn in the first place!”
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