For those making resolutions to hit the gym this year….
You might want to consider working out your brain too.
If you don’t start now, you won’t have half as many stories to tell your grandchildren.
You simply won’t remember. Seriously.
In Layman’s terms, our memories are kind of like a huge library. If you keep shoving them into the back of the dusty corner, you’ll eventually forget where you put them.
Now, I’m not talking about dementia or Alzheimer’s. This begins happening as soon as your brain reaches maturation. You are not exempt if you are only 40, or even 20.
Childhood memories slowly begin to fade away, and only the significant events remain. Sure, some item or person may suddenly jolt your memory, but you will be less likely to remember that on your own.
Recognition Vs. Recall
Note: There is a difference between recognition and recall. —-Recognition is the association of a memory with an event or physical object you’ve encountered. So, you might see a baseball glove and suddenly remember how your grandfather took you to a Texas Ranger’s game. Recall is more like a Fill-In-The-Blank. It’s not even multiple choice. You have to remember something, with nothing in front of you to help.
So, what to do about this?
Well, the brain is a muscle, like any part of your body. Time to pump the iron.
If you’re looking to improve your memory, with training techniques, there might be far more indirect brain benefits than you realize:
It will keep you telling those hilarious stories at social events, lower your stress, keep you better organized, stay mentally healthy, more alert, and better grasp concepts.
My 10 Practical Tips:
- Eat “Brain Food.”
Yes, I’m hitting you with the diet stuff first. Let’s get it out of the way. Hey, if it makes you feel better, I’m medically allowed to add wine to this list.
- Get enough sleep.
(Yes it’s that simple. No, we don’t do it.) Nothing makes for a foggy day like being sleep-deprived. The reverse is true: nothing makes you feel more alive and alert than a full night’s sleep.
- Carry around a notebook
Whether you’re nostalgic or frustrated, a new parent- creating a book of bedtime stories, or collecting material for your memoir, ALWAYS carry a notebook with you. everywhere. Best advice I can give you.
Stimulates production of new synapses, essentially new pathways which are applicable to any situation (whereas learning Sudoku might not help except in number-related puzzles). Also, the increased oxygen to the brain= good thing. Trust me. Last but not least, when you work out, (whether cardio or weights) it releases the feel-good chemical endorphins. (see link for targeted work-out tips)
- Play video games (for real)
Neuroscientist Yaakov Stern of Columbia University said in an article, “It requires motor control, visual search, working memory, long-term memory, and decision making,” [also ability to control and switch attention among different tasks.] “People get better on tests of memory, motor speed, visual-spatial skills, and tasks requiring cognitive flexibility.”
- Stay creative.
Don’t just do busy-work and boring work. Do something everday you love, for you. Writer Charles Bukowski didn’t believe in the “tortured genius.” He believes our motives affect our performance.
It’s good for the soul. And apparently your memory retention? Also, don’t forget to laugh at yourself! Many memories are embarrassing, but don’t let that stop you. You might find some of them hilarious now, which you swore you’d never speak of again. In fact, tell it to a friend. Laugh until you cry. You never know, it might bring up other pieces of the event, if it happened with a friend.
- Drink green tea.
- No More Mean Girls. Make real friends & real memories.
Surround yourself with healthy relationships. Ok fine, we can still watch the movie. I just mean, friends are the ultimate memory booster. They always remember stuff for you, good or bad. They induce those memory recall situations. Not to mention, people are the most important memories.
- Try meditation, reading an old book, visiting where you grew up, yoga, crosswords & Sudoku, using Mnemonic devices, active listening to radio news, trivia games, or (my favorite) photo albums.
I’d love to know:
What proven method did I leave out?
What unconventional method works for you?
What’s your strongest memory?
What triggers your flashbacks?