Let’s face it, we all forget things from time to time, but what about the important stuff? There is nothing more frustrating than forgetting someone’s name or phone number. And it can be dangerous to forget things like taking medication. So how can we keep ourselves sharp? With just a few easy things, we can make forgetfulness a distant memory.
If Memory Serves….
If you want your memory to serve you, you’ve got to take care of it.
- Reduce Stress. Yes, I realize this is easier said than done, but try working in a daily meditation session or some yoga into your morning. These things can help calm the mind and reduce stress and when we’re stressed, it’s hard to keep our wits about us. In short, we forget stuff, which makes us more stressed. It’s a cycle. Slow down and breathe.
- What you eat has a direct effect on your brain. When we eat a diet full of protein and omega 3, it greases the gears in our brains.
- Limit alcohol. I know a neat bourbon or a good Gin Rickey may help you get to sleep faster, but it doesn’t help you sleep better. On the contrary. You’re more likely to toss and turn and not feel rested when you drink. And a tired brain is a forgetful brain.
- Challenge yourself, but mix it up. Find something challenging like word searches or embroidery. Maybe crossword puzzles or some other online memory game is good too, but don’t just conquer one. Doing nothing but crossword puzzles day after day may help your skills, but the other parts of your brain will atrophy. Think of it like going to the gym. If you go to the gym and day after day after day you bench press more and more weight, eventually, you’re going to be super buff. In your biceps and chest. But if you never work out your legs, those muscles will shrivel and become useless. It’s the same with your brain. Write, read, do puzzles, pick up a paint brush, keep your mind busy with lots of different challenges.
- Say it out loud. When you’re trying to remember a number or a name, don’t just think it, say it out loud. The more senses you connect to the memory, the more likely you are to remember it. Try saying it out loud as you’re writing it down. In the same line of thinking, when you’re listening to instructions or a lecture, try doodling. It keeps your mind from wandering and it also helps you to associate what you see and draw with what you’re hearing. More connections means more memories.
- On cue. Try giving yourself cues to remember things. For example, tell yourself “When I make my coffee in the morning, I’ll take my medication.” Over time, this becomes a habit, but to establish these habits, we need to jog our memories with cues.
- Chunk it up. Especially when remembering numbers, it can be helpful to break it down. Instead of remembering a phone number as 3161234567 try 31 61 23 45 67 or 3161 2345 67. Seeing it in chunks or blocks can help us remember the number as a whole instead of trying to remember individual numbers.