Memories are the building blocks of our internal biographies. They tell us what we have done during our lifetime and who we have connected with along the way. Memories play a vital role in making us who we are as human beings, which is why age-related memory loss can signify losing our sense of self. Many people worry about declining memory and thinking skills. But what makes some individuals experience memory loss over time while others remain sharp? Genes contribute to how intact our memories stay, but so too do lifestyle choices.
1. Eat a brain-boosting diet
The body needs fuel to function properly, and this holds true for the brain, as well. Eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones can be an effective strategy for powering your brain and keeping it fit and healthy for life.
- Mediterranean diet
- Ketogenic diet
- Memory-improving foods
2. Get physically active
If you want your memory to stay sharp, it is important to keep active. Exercise increases oxygen levels in your brain, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes — which leads to memory loss — decreases levels of stress hormones, and increases the effect of helpful brain chemicals.
3. Take a nap
Do you think that enhancing your memory will be challenging? Think again; you can nap your way to a superior memory.
Adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night to maintain physical and mental health. Sleep helps us to solidify and consolidate short-term memory to long-term memory. After sleep, people tend to improve information retention and perform better in memory tests. Skipping the recommended amount of sleep, however, interferes with the brain’s ability to form new memories.
4. Give your brain a workout
The popularity of brain-training apps has turned the industry into a billion-dollar business. However, do brain-training programs really work? Evidence increasingly suggests that they do not.
Brain-training programs lead to improvement in the task that you have been practicing, but they do not appear to strengthen memory, intelligence, or cognitive abilities. However, there are techniques you can use to help you learn to encode and recall important information, and these are called mnemonic devices. These methods can be your superpower when needing to remember people’s names — at a big event, for example.
5. Kick back and relax
Chronic stress has an adverse effect on the brain. Over time, stress destroys brain cells, damages the hippocampus, and is linked with memory loss. Managing stress can therefore be one of the best ways to protect your memory.
Meditation and listening to music may be effective strategies for relieving stress and reversing early memory loss in older adults with cognitive decline.
Lastly, if you find that you relax with certain aromas, you might want to try rosemary essential oil. Children who took part in a memory game after being in a rosemary-diffused room scored significantly higher than children who had been in a room with no scent.