It’s a common held misperception that only aging people have trouble with their memories; this is not so. In today’s world and with the “Gen X” generation, literally everything is tied to a smartphone, PDA, tablets and so on. While technological advancement has its benefits, one downside suffered is the more we use them, the less we have to remember because our devices do it for us. Before we know it, our memories (along with our attention spans) begin to suffer. If you can relate to any of this, the following list of 10 daily habits to improve your memory may help.
1. Make a List
Start small. Hand-write your grocery list and do your best to memorize it. Still take the list with you, but only look at it when you need to (like before you check out). This simple mental exercise over time is one of the ways to improve memory. You may even get to a point where you don’t need to take the list to the store with you.
2. Tend to a Plant
A plant that requires daily care and maintenance calls for committed mindfulness, thoughtfulness and yes, memory. Get something such as a Bonsai tree. Bonsais require daily watering in specific amounts and careful pruning. This Japanese art is not difficult at all; in fact, it is quite relaxing and very rewarding. Bonsais, when properly cared for can live for centuries. The older the Bonsai, the more expensive it is to purchase, but young trees are less than $30.
3. Plant a Garden
The same principal applies to gardens as tending to a Bonsai. You prepare the ground, plant the seeds, weed and water it daily. This also keeps you active and outdoors more often, two more ways to improve your memory. Plant flowers or a vegetable garden – whatever compliments your interests the most.
4. Physical Exercise
Studies have proven that people (including children) who exercise on a daily basis have greater attention spans, clearer thinking and far better memories than people who do not. Swim, walk, bike, do yoga – anything active for at least 30 minutes every day will improve blood circulation to the brain.
Researchers have extensively studied the causes of memory loss. One interesting fact is that people with diets high in Omega 3 fatty acids have significantly sharper minds, better problem solving skills, aptitude to learn new things and yes, memory! Whole grains, veggies, fruits, nuts and healthy oils are all highly recommended. Wild caught salmon and tuna are two excellent sources for Omega 3’s but you can also take it in capsule form daily for close to the same results. The benefit to a supplement is the lessened risk of mercury ingestion, as these fish naturally contain large amounts of mercury. Too much mercury can cause serious damage, especially to the brain.
6. Phone Numbers
Here is another way to sharpen your memory skills. Memorize the phone numbers of 10 people. With smartphones replacing landline home phones, we rarely even read the number again once we’ve entered it into our phones. Here’s a good test of this theory: without looking, write down the phone numbers of your immediate family. How well did you do? Hmm… still wondering how to improve your memory?
7. Playing Cards
We’re not suggesting you rush out to the nearest casino and put down $10 grand on a game of Texas Hold’em. However, playing card games challenges your cognitive abilities including memory and is a fun way to exercise your mind.
8. Board Games
No matter what your age, board games can be a lot of fun. Scrabble is an excellent example of a game that is fun but that also has educational benefits. Not only do you improve your memory, you broaden your vocabulary and use your mind to compose winning strategies. Chess is another excellent challenge for the mind. If you are a beginner, start with checkers.
9. Daily Crossword Puzzles
If your daily paper doesn’t include a crossword, books of them are available and very affordable. Aim to complete one puzzle every day.
10. Object Test
This is easy to do at home with minimal preparation. Gather 10-12 objects that will fit on your tabletop. Study them for a few minutes, then turn away from them and write down as many as you can remember. The better you get at this exercise; you will be able to not only list all of the objects but also the order in which they are lined up.
Memory is one of those things we rarely think about until we start to lose it. Memory loss can be dangerous if it progresses too far, putting you at risk of getting lost, losing important papers or forgetting important dates or appointments. Mind exercises, physical exercise, a healthy diet and daily challenges are the best ways to keep and improve your memory.