Shia's Healthy New Lifestyle Day 23

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Improving Memory

Forgetting something can cause stress. You can't remember if you sent out your payment for a bill, you can't remember where you parked, you can't find your keys and you're in a rush, all of these and many more instances of forgetfulness can cause undo stress.

So here are some tips to improve your memory from

  1. Pay attention. You can’t remember something if you never learned it, and you can’t learn something — that is, encode it into your brain — if you don’t pay enough attention to it. It takes about eight seconds of intent focus to process a piece of information through your hippocampus and into the appropriate memory center. So, no multitasking when you need to concentrate! If you distract easily, try to receive information in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. (I am soooo a multitasker and I've found that I have forgotten stuff because I had two many burners going at once. Also, paying attention is key. I used to work with this one attorney and when he talked I would zone out. I had to start writing down stuff when he spoke during our meetings or I would leave and think...what did he want?)
  2. Tailor information acquisition to your learning style. Most people are visual learners; they learn best by reading or otherwise seeing what it is they have to know. But some are auditory learners who learn better by listening. They might benefit by recording information they need and listening to it until they remember it. (Dictation: Note to on blog for tomorrow, I'm just not that lame to carry around a recording device but hey making lists work for me. Especially if you have a cute notebook that always helps =) )
  3. Involve as many senses as possible. Even if you’re a visual learner, read out loud what you want to remember. If you can recite it rhythmically, even better. Try to relate information to colors, textures, smells and tastes. The physical act of rewriting information can help imprint it onto your brain. (Okay seriously this is how I remember where I parked I pick out some sort of landmark tree, sign, etc. and then go from there. Also come on you go to the same places try to park in the same area that helps a lot.)
  4. Relate information to what you already know. Connect new data to information you already remember, whether it’s new material that builds on previous knowledge, or something as simple as an address of someone who lives on a street where you already know someone.
  5. Organize information. Write things down in address books and datebooks and on calendars; take notes on more complex material and reorganize the notes into categories later. Use both words and pictures in learning information.
  6. Understand and be able to interpret complex material. For more complex material, focus on understanding basic ideas rather than memorizing isolated details. Be able to explain it to someone else in your own words.
  7. Rehearse information frequently and “over-learn”. Review what you’ve learned the same day you learn it, and at intervals thereafter. What researchers call “spaced rehearsal” is more effective than “cramming.” If you’re able to “over-learn” information so that recalling it becomes second nature, so much the better.
  8. Be motivated and keep a positive attitude. Tell yourself that you want to learn what you need to remember, and that you can learn and remember it. Telling yourself you have a bad memory actually hampers the ability of your brain to remember, while positive mental feedback sets up an expectation of success.
Healthy Habits that Improve Memory also from

Regular exercise
  • Increases oxygen to your brain.
  • Reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • May enhance the effects of helpful brain chemicals and protect brain cells.
Managing stress
  • Cortisol, the stress hormone, can damage the hippocampus if the stress is unrelieved.
  • Stress makes it difficult to concentrate.
Good sleep habits
  • Sleep is necessary for memory consolidation.
  • Sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea leave you tired and unable to concentrate during the day.
Not smoking

  • Smoking heightens the risk of vascular disorders that can cause stroke and constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain.

  • B vitamins, especially B6, B12, and folic acid, protects neurons by breaking down homocysteine, an amino acid that is toxic to nerve cells. They’re also involved in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen. (Best sources: spinach and other dark leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, strawberries, melons, black beans and other legumes, citrus fruits, soybeans.)
  • Antioxidants like vitamins C and E, and beta carotene, fight free radicals, which are atoms formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Free radicals are highly reactive and can damage cells, but antioxidants can interact with them safely and neutralize them. Antioxidants also improve the flow of oxygen through the body and brain. Best sources: blueberries and other berries, sweet potatoes, red tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, green tea, nuts and seeds, citrus fruits, liver.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are concentrated in the brain and are associated with cognitive function. They count as “healthy” fats, as opposed to saturated fats and trans fats, protecting against inflammation and high cholesterol. Best sources: cold-water fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, halibut, and mackerel; walnuts and walnut oil; flaxseed and flaxseed oil
    Because older adults are more prone to B12 and folic acid deficiencies, a supplement may be a good idea for seniors. An omega-3 supplement (at any age) if you don’t like eating fish. But nutrients work best when they’re consumed in foods, so try your best to eat a broad spectrum of colorful plant foods and choose fats that will help clear, not clog, your arteries. Your brain will thank you!

So great we can all follow these steps and improve our memories and never have a single problem because we'll all be sharp as a tack. Right? Wrong. There's going to be that inevitable battle between you and someone else. You remember doing something and they are doubting your memory because they don't remember. For example, you're at work and your boss hands you a check to mail out. You mail it. A month later he doesn't remember if it was mailed or not and now you are doubting your memory because he is insisting that you're wrong. The only way out of a memory battle is to have a system to keep track. Keep copies or scan and save a copy or make notes on a calendar of what went out that day. Often memory isn't the save all. Hard proof to back up your memory is often needed.

However, I look forward to trying to implement some of these tips into my daily life. I am notorious for not being able to find my car key, my wallet, my phone, etc. I am constantly digging in my bag so that isn't really memory but more like organization. So more on that later...we'll all have great memories and have everything organized and saved and there will be NO STOPPING US!!

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