How To Enhance your Memory
Concentrate and focus on the task at hand
Although we`re all getting good at multi-tasking, if you really want to remember something it`s important to give your full attention to a single task. Make lists to free up your brain to remember the really important things.
Develop routines, tricks and reminders
Identify a place for things you use often - your glasses and car keys - and put them in the same place every time. Use a watch buzzer to prompt yourself to perform an important task. When meeting someone new, use their name several times in the conversation and write it down as soon as you get a chance. Prevent yourself from losing your parked car by paying attention to landmarks: say them aloud and write them down. Create associations or "triggers" to help you remember people, tasks, and things.
Stress is distracting and makes remembering more difficult. People who are often anxious produce high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and research over the past 20 years has indicated that sustained cortisol elevations can damage brain cells and impair mental functions. Getting a good night`s sleep is nature`s way to reduce stress, process some memories of the day, and allows your body a chance to recharge, making you more alert and attentive to detail. Or, learn a new method to relax - breathing, tai chi, yoga, meditation - or a relaxing cup of tea or bath in the evening.
Exercise your brain
Engage in activities that use your mind - read, take classes, play bridge, do crossword puzzles, play Scrabble and other word or memory games, discuss current events. Spending time with others - with family and friends, at work, or through volunteer activities - is also important. Maintaining social supports and engaging in "mental exercises" are strategies to keep your mind in top shape; in the long run they will also help you age successfully.
Take care of your health
See your physician if you think your memory isn`t what it used to be. Be sure to get a thorough exam, including checking your vision and hearing. Many disorders - undetected and untreated high blood pressure, as well as the side effects of many common medications or underlying conditions like alcoholism, depression, thyroid imbalance, sleep disorders or stroke - impair the ability to remember.
Build walking or exercise into your daily routine
Exercise and cardio-vascular exercise, in particular, strengthens your heart and keeps the blood flowing to your brain. The more oxygen your brain receives the better able your brain is to function. In addition, new research indicates that increasing exercise causes a corresponding increase in a chemical substance (nerve growth factor) which promotes the growth of new brain cells.
Fill your grocery basket and your body with healthy foods
Research suggests that the same processes that clog your heart`s arteries and cause cancerous changes in your cells can also damage the delicate communication network in the brain. People are advised to reduce their salt intake, cut back on saturated fats, and eat plenty of foods high in anti-oxidants (strawberries, spinach and blueberries, for instance), as well as one serving a day of a food rich in beta-carotene (apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, papaya, peaches and sweet potatoes are best).
Take your vitamins
In most cases, eating food rather than taking a variety of supplements is best. However, a multi-vitamin, taken with a meal, is important to make certain that you are getting adequate supply of nutrients that are harder to get from food, including folic acid, a B vitamin that helps keep arteries clear and the brain well-nourished.
Believe in yourself
The recent MacArthur Foundation Study of Older Americans found that a person`s belief in his or her ability to solve problems, meet challenges and otherwise have influence over the course of events in one`s life positively impacts the individual`s ability to maintain physical and mental health, including memory. The belief that memory is a set of skills that can be learned and improved over the years, increases motivation, encourages effort and leads to successfully strengthening the memory and their sense of self-esteem.