Is having a good memory determined by our genes? Or is there is something we can do about it? Apparently, yes. We can actually exercise to keep our brains fit, as it were. By challenging our minds, we open up new pathways, and keep it functioning physiologically.
Here are some activities to try:
Do something that requires co-ordination
What you do will depend on how fit you are. You could do something sedentary, like playing chess with a chess clock, where you have to think fast, move your piece quickly and then swiftly switch off the clock.
Or try skipping rope using different footwork. This is not for the faint-hearted, literally and figuratively. Both your brain and your heart get a great workout as you figure out which leg to put forward and where the rope must be at what point.
Read something and then write a summary
Try it with this article. When you reach the end, close this tab and open up a Word document. Write down all the tips you remember from this article on improving your memory.
Learn a poem
Learning by rote at school has gone out of fashion, but there is something to be said for memory work when you are able to recite whole poems or bits of Shakespeare by heart. Choose a poem you love, so that you enjoy learning it and get joy from it every time you recite it. Once you have it down pat, practice it often.
Laugh a lot
Laughing or enjoying humor releases endorphins, which sends dopamine to the brain where we experience pleasure. This state of being is the opposite of stress and anxiety: when we are in those states, we are not receptive to learning (or remembering). So, here’s permission to watch all those funny pet videos on YouTube.
Eating saturated fat and trans fats builds up “bad” cholesterol, which affects the arteries, and apparently, also the brain. Red meat and butter are among the worst culprits for the connection between thinking and memory and food. So, eat these in moderation, and learn to love fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil.
Yes, you read that right. Moderate alcohol consumption raises levels of the “good” cholesterol. It also raises our cells’ resistance to insulin, allowing it to reduce blood sugar more effectively. The more resistance we have to insulin, the less chance of dementia, apparently. So cheers! But keep it moderate.
Keep a journal
Get into the habit of spending an hour or so at a regular time each keeping a journal. Write down whatever comes to mind: the trivia of the day; your feelings; the dreams you had the night before. It doesn’t matter. The act of writing brings buried thoughts to the fore, and make them conscious in your mind. This is a fantastic way of preserving memories of your life, while also exercising your memory.