Improve Your Memory
Few things make you feel completely out of it like forgetting something, right? When you misplace your wallet or can't seem to remember where you parked, you're left feeling confused and almost disoriented. What was I gonna say? Or you know, that one guy from that show, uh ... anyway where was I going with this? You get the point. Our brain is a vital part of our body and we probably don't exercise it enough. But there are simple things we can do to sharpen our mind. And the stronger it gets, the more ironclad your memory stays. Here are 10 scientifically proven ways to supercharge your recall rate.
Find Some Stillness
You don't have to call it meditation. And you don't even have to do it regularly to see all the benefits. But sitting in stillness has been proven to increase blood flow to the brain. Aim for quiet contemplation, bringing awareness to your breath. A 2020 study found that doing it for just eight minutes increased the short-term memory of participants (compared to those who listened to an audio book or chose not to do anything).
Think of games like crosswords, puzzles and Wordle as tools to strengthen your memory muscle. Research proved that four months of regularly doing sudokus can improve your working memory. Similarly stimulating activities like reading or even video games can reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we age.
Start Brain Training
If you want to focus solely on the brain, there are gamified apps now—CogniFit, Lumosity and Elevate—that are specifically designed to train your brain on certain mental skills. The research is still a little mixed on whether these actually help your short-term memory, but several have been found to improve working memory, processing speed and executive function—all of which is used when multitasking, focusing and planning.
Eat More Fish
Call it brain food. We've all heard about the myriad of benefits from omega-rich superfoods. But it's especially true for memory. Oily fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies and mackerel are good for your brain. Several studies have linked the fish to a reduced risk of age-related mental decline.
Learn a Language
You don't have to master a second (or third) language to reap serious benefits from the practice. Simply learning a few new words and phrases will boost your ability to retain new information. Not only will it make travel easier and impress dates, but studies show that it's an excellent way to strengthen what neurologists call our “cognitive reserve”, which is the brain's capacity to compensate for the loss of its natural functions—especially as we age. Don't have an ear for foreign languages? You can get similar benefits from simply expanding your vocabulary.
Get Better Sleep
As anyone who's pulled an all-nighter knows, sleep deprivation massively impacts how well our brain functions, so it's no wonder it impacts short-term memory and attention span. Make getting enough healthy sleep a priority. Most adults need seven to nine solid hours a night on a regular basis.
Vitamin D Levels
Did you know that having low levels of vitamin D is actually fairly common for men? Especially during winter when sunlight isn't as plentiful. The essential vitamin has long been touted for strengthening our bones and aiding our immune system, but researchers from Tufts University found that it may also affect our brain's cognitive function. You could get a blood test to check your levels or just get some supplements to boost your intake. Couldn't hurt, right?
Cut Back on Booze
Of course, a heavy night of drinking can lead to fuzzy memories the next day. But even when you don't hit the bottle that hard, your short-term memory can take a hit from alcohol. Studies have found that regular drinkers score lower on short-term memory tests than those who abstain. To maximize your memory, avoid binge drinking and keep your cocktails to a moderate amount.
When you write things by hand, your brain processes it better and commits it to memory with greater accuracy. The practice also forces you to focus on a particular idea or thought. Because of the nature of memory and the brain, you are more likely to remember the things you focus on. Not only does it boost memory and comprehension, it also increases the brain's processing power.
You can add short-term memory to the list of things exercise can improve. Researchers have found that 30 minutes of cardio each day for 10 days can improve short-term memory. Regular fitness has also been shown to boost our working memory, along with complex object recognition memory. And varying your workouts is a great way to fortify your mind against future memory problems.
Here’s why we forget people’s names as soon as we’re introduced and some proven ways to increase your ability to catch and retain names.