We live in a stress-filled, fast moving world in which remembering daily / weekly tasks can be difficult. Whether you're a student studying (or cramming) for exams, a working professional interested in doing all you can to stay mentally sharp, or a senior looking to preserve and enhance your brain power, there are lots of things you can do to improve your memory and mental performance. It's a well known fact that a strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain.
Recent studies suggest that adopting a few simple lifestyle changes can help preserve your memory. If you are struggling to remember everything on your weekly or daily to-do list, try these 5 tips.
Sports researchers found that short yet intense workouts that incorporate weights, resistance equipment or body weight exercises can improve long-term memory. Physical exercise increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise also enhances the effects of helpful brain chemicals and reduces stress hormones. In general, anything that is good for your heart is great for your brain so choose activities that keep your blood pumping such as any form of aerobic exercise.
2. Limit Stress
Stress is one of your brain's worst enemies. It can cause physical and emotional illness which can affect your vitality, peace-of-mind, as well as your personal and professional relationships. Too much stress can affect your sleep, can cause backaches and/or headaches, and can also contribute to potentially life-threatening diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Related article: Make Stress Awareness Part of Your Personal Wellness Plan
Over time, chronic stress destroys brain cells and damages the region of the brain involved in the formation of new memories and the retrieval of old ones. Studies have also linked stress to memory loss.
Here are some tips for managing stress:
- Set realistic expectations
- Take breaks throughout your busy day
- Express your feelins rather than letting them boil up
- Maintain a happy medium between work and free time
- Do not multitask - focus on one task at a time
3. Eat Healthily To Improve Your Mental Performance
Healthy foods not only keep your body active, they also keep your brain sharp. It's well known that a diet based on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, “healthy” fats (such as avacados and nuts), and lean protein will provide lots of physical health benefits, but such a diet can also improve your cognitive strength.
Related article: These Foods Can Help Save Your Memory
However, for mental health, it’s not just about what you eat—it’s also what you don’t eat and what you don't do. Check out this blog post to learn about the correlation between mental health and healthy eating.
4. Maintain Your Blood Sugar Level
Although monitoring your sugar intake is easier said than done, studies show that lower blood sugar levels are associated with better brain function and may even help you avoid age-related cognitive impairment.
Dr. Perkins, one of Total Access Medical's physicians, said, "even if your blood sugar levels are 'normal,' lower blood sugar levels are better for your brain in the long run with regard to memory functions..."
In addition, having elevated blood sugar levels on a regular basis is a sign of diabetes and can damage blood vessels, reducing blood and nutrient flow to brain cells and ultimately contributing to cognitive decline, as well as Alzheimer's disease. (Tip: Help keep your blood sugar under control by having a snack or meal every three hours that combines a lean protein with a complex carbohydrate).
5. Get Your Z's
There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function at your best. There's also a big difference between too little sleep and too much sleep. When it comes to memory, both too much and too little aren’t good. Aim for “just right,” says a report from a Harvard Health Study. The truth is that over 95% of adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep every night in order to avoid sleep deprivation. Even skimping on a few hours makes a difference! Memory, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking skills are all compromised.
But sleep is critical to learning and memory in an even more fundamental way. Research shows that sleep is necessary for memory consolidation, with the key memory-enhancing activity occurring during the deepest stages of sleep.
Here are a few tips to improve your memory through getting rest:
- Get on a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning. Try not to break routine.
- Avoid technology (TV's, cellphones, computers) for at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted by these screens can trigger wakefulness and suppress hormones such as melatonin that make you sleepy.
- Limit caffeine intake. Try reducing your intake or cutting it out entirely if you suspect it’s keeping you awake at night.
These are just a few ways in which you can improve your memory. If you would like to meet in person with a medical professional to learn about ways you can prevent cognitive decline than consider the convenience and simplicity of scheduling a doctor's appointment through Total Access Medical's direct primary care program. With direct primary care, you'll receive 24 / 7 access to top-tier physicians. Sign up for a FREE Meet n Greet with one of our medical professionals today to learn more about specific ways to improve memory.