Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details, and quickly comprehend new things, and wished that you too could be like that? Well, you can. To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting away on your couch watching mindless television shows is not going to help. Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly?
Check out these tips:
- Exercise & get your body moving – exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain. Furthermore, without regular exercise plaque starts to build up in your arteries and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks, but it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised. To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day, even if its just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental accuity. Brisk walking , swimming and dancing are all excellent activities.
- Eliminate stressors and seek help for depression (if you have it). Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away at the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate. If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream, which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus, which is where short-term memories are stored. Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.
- Get a good night’s sleep and take naps. Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information and getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.
- Write it down. If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help. Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. You can start a journal, write yourself e-mails, or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.
- Listen to music. Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.
- Feed your brain. 50 to 60 percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking. This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain. Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat, but their lack of nutritional value is going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.
- Visual concepts. In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying. Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook, or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.
- Teach someone else. Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it heps to enhance understanding and recall. Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.
- Do crossword puzzles, read, or play cards.Studies have shown that doing either of these activities on a daily basis not only keep your brain active, but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia. So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book, or enjoy a game of solitaire.
- Eat breakfast and make sure it includes an egg.Accrording to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins, which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage, and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed. Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with eachother, and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells. Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day.