7 Tips on How to Train Your Brain and Improve Your Memory

Our memory is the part of the brain where we encode, store and retrieve information. There are two types: our short term (or working memory) and long-term memory. Short-term memory is how we remember things temporarily, and it is thought that we can hold around seven items here at any one time. When we no longer need this information however, it leaves us – unless it makes it to our long-term memory. When we keep coming back to information, this can be committed to a more permanent part of our brain.

There are many ways that we can boost our brain power and improve our short and long-term memory, so here are seven ways that you can start today!

Eating brain foods

There are some foods considered to be better than others for our memory, and therefore the preservation of our brains. According to research, the following “superfoods” can help:

Green, leafy vegetables: These, as well as other plant-based foods, can potentially help your memory. This is because they are rich in healthy nutrients that are thought to slow cognitive decline.

Berries: We hear a lot about flavonoids when it comes to our brain, which are the natural plant pigments in berries. In a 2012 study published in the Annals of Neurology, researchers found that women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries per week were able to delay their memory decline.

Omega-3: Fatty fish offers a lot of Omega-3 acids, which are healthy unsaturated fats thought to improve memory. It is recommended that you try to eat fish at least twice per week, but choose those low in mercury such as salmon, cod or canned tuna. Alternatively, if you don’t like fish, talk to a medical professional about taking a supplement instead.

Exercising regularly

It sometimes feels like the answer to everything is exercise, but it really does help in every way. Not only does it improve our fitness and get those good endorphins flowing – but the secretion of neuroprotective proteins could also help our cognitive abilities. In fact, research at the University of British Columbia has found that regular aerobic exercise could boost the size of the brain area that helps us with memory.

Utilising brain training apps

However, not everything we do has to be about eating healthy and exercising. Why not give your brain a workout instead? One trial found that people who did 15 minutes of brain training activities 5 days per week were able to see improvements in their brain function. There are many great ways you can try this, including the likes of websites Lumosity and Game Show.

Playing board games

What could be better than boosting your brain power and improving your memory, while having fun with friends or family? In fact, it seems boards games could well be a winning combo. Firstly, the areas of the brain responsible for memory formation is the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which are what we use when we play. Secondly, board games have the added benefit of being sociable, and one study suggests that those with very active social lives have the slowest memory decline. And considering a recent survey has shown the top emotions evoked when playing board games was satisfaction (82{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c}), friendliness (81{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c}) and enthusiasm (76{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c}), it seems game playing is beneficial all round.

Becoming mindful with meditation

One way to improve your memory is through meditation. A recent study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training can better your cognitive abilities. This is not surprising really, since so much of meditation is about focusing for longer, without letting other (less important!) distractions in. There are many ways that you can learn meditation, even doing it from the comfort of your own home using apps such as The Mindfulness App, Headspace or Calm.

Sleeping for a scheduled amount of time

Some people make the mistake of skipping on sleep to cram more into their day. However, this doesn’t only compromise your physical and mental wellbeing, but your creativity, problem-solving and memory skills, too. According to Harvard, adults need 7.5-8.5 hours in order to be at their functioning best. There are some rules you can put in place to help; try to go to bed at the same time every night, as well as avoiding any devices before bedtime, particularly those that emit a blue light.

Finding a new hobby

Finally, brain exercises should involve something you need to learn, rather than something you’ve already mastered. Choose a new hobby – whether that be learning an instrument, a language or even a craft. Challenging tasks that require you to work through levels or stages offers the perfect opportunity to push yourself a little further each time, in turn, expanding your memory.

Sources:

‘How Memory Works’
https://bokcenter.harvard.edu/how-memory-works

‘Your Short-Term Memory Can Only Hold 7 Items’
https://curiosity.com/topics/your-short-term-memory-can-only-hold-7-items-but-you-can-use-this-trick-curiosity/

‘Foods Linked to Better Brain Power’
https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower

‘Role of Exercise on the Brain’
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5091051/

Regular Exercise Changes the Brain to Improve Memory, Thinking Skills
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

‘Mental Exercising Through Simple Socializing’
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167207310454

‘Playing Board Games, Cognitive Decline and Dementia’
https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/8/e002998

‘Top 10 Health Benefits of Board Games’
https://howgameareyou.com/health-benefits-board-games/


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