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Oh! I have an awful memory

Bad memory? Keep forgetting things? Here is how to exercise your brain to improve your memory and mental performance.   2018-03-07

If our brains were computers, we would simply add a chip to upgrade our memory, but the human brain is a lot more complex than the most advanced machine. To improve our memory is not that easy. In the same way that it takes effort to build physical stamina, so too does increasing the power of the mind. A good memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain, whether you are a student studying for final exams or a professional who wants to enhance your mental vigour.

There are many things you can do to improve your memory and mental performance, we bring you some examples:

  • Physical exercise. If you exercise on a regular basis you can increase memory. Almost anything that plays part in physical health in a positive way probably helps the memory too. Research suggests that cognitive function is improved immediately after just ten minutes of aerobic exercise. If you need to recharge the brain, instead of taking the lift up to your work space you might want to go up the stairs instead.
  • Brain exercises. Whilst sitting in the traffic on the way to work, why not do some maths in your head. Regular use of the brain has been shown to produce new nerve growth, or even to stop the decline in mental function which will therefore help to improve your memory.
  • Sing. When you are in the shower or in your car on your drive to work, have a go at singing about something that you are working on. Doing this activates the right side of your brain. You might have noticed that it is easier to rhyme when you sing than when you just speak or write this happens because the right side of your brain is better at pattern recognition. If you try and do this exercise regularly you can train yourself to access the right side of your brain. This will make you become a successful problem-solver. If you doubt this, look at how stutterers can stop stuttering as soon as they start singing. Give it a try.
  • Potential brain foods. Why not pack your lunch box with foods that can help with your memory. These foods include: broccoli, brown rice, cheese, chicken, avocados, oatmeal, salmon, eggs, oranges, peanut butter, peas, turkey, soybean, tuna, spinach, yogurt, cantaloupe, bananas, brussels sprouts, legumes, and romaine lettuce.
  • Sit straight. It is so easy to slouch whilst sitting at your desk. Who would have thought our posture affects the thinking process and therefore our memory? You will find it harder to solve a mathematical problem whilst slouching and staring at the floor than if you are sitting upright with your mouth closed and looking forward or slightly upwards. It will become apparent to you that it is not only better for your posture to sit upright but also for your thinking process and therefore your memory.
  • Visual image. Do you have a problem remembering people's names? Try and connect a positive, colourful or three-dimensional image with a name or word to help you remember them better.
  • No sugar. Whilst sitting at your desk feeling a little tired and just wanting something to help give you that boost, most of us will turn to the sugary foods which are usually a quick and easy snack. Try and avoid foods like white bread, crisps, pasta and sugars before any important mental tasks, as these foods just make you feel sluggish which consequently makes it hard to think clearly. The reason for this is that the insulin rushes into the bloodstream to counteract the sugar rush.
  • Do something you enjoy. After a long day at work, do something that you enjoy. Watching TV does not work for this one. You need to do something that engages the brain, something active. Whether it is playing cards or doing DIY, when you are actively engaged in an activity that you enjoy, this is when you worry less and start to think and remember better.
  • Drink wine. After a hard day’s work in the office, why not have a glass of red wine. Drunk in moderation red wine can be good for the brain and memory. It is rich in antioxidants, which helps protect brain cells. One glass a day for women and two for men are the considered safe moderate amounts.
  • Sleep better. Lack of sleep can affect your memory and your concentration levels. It makes you unable to focus on things clearly, therefore you can't remember as well.

These are just a few things you can do to help improve your memory whether on your way to work, or at home. Remember, the more you tax your brain the more efficient it will become.