Boosting brain health is always important, as having a healthy, sharp mind can do wonders for productivity and longevity. It’s hard to feel as though you’re forgetting things all the time, and increasing memory retention can help you feel more confident in your knowledge and ability to think on the spot.
Of course, there’s a difference between forgetting where you placed your keys on occasion and forgetting to meet deadlines or social or work commitments regularly. For minor slips, it’s not as important, but if you encounter these set-backs in memory retention and find them to interfere in your daily tasks, it might be worth speaking with a physician.
As a certified health coach, I help my clients eat the right foods, work out, and have the ideal lifestyle habits to boost their brain health and to increase memory retention. Of course, memory declines as we age, but there are ways to enhance memory retention and brain power in order to reap long-term benefits and to minimize the natural decline as best as possible. Here are 11 ways to increase memory and brain function in order to improve health and mentality, so that you can feel more competent, informed, and productive during the day.
According to Dr. Lisa Ashe, Medical Director of BeWell Medical Group, over email with Bustle, eating foods high in omega 3 fatty acids could increase memory retention and improve overall brain health and function. Ashe recommends eating, “all foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, berries, sardines and walnuts.”
2. Reduce Stress
As explained by Ashe, “increased cortisol levels interfere with memory,” and so it is important to reduce stress levels as much as possible in order to boost brain health, memory, and function and to increase feelings of happiness, productivity, and competency. Consider picking up a hobby, yoga, or meditation to calm your nerves.
3. Play Mind Games
Ashe recommends playing mind games in order to keep the brain active and working as best as possible. Ashe suggests some great games, such as “crossword puzzles, brain fitness games, and boggle,” to have on hand for entertainment and mental power. Plus, these often come in small pads and books, so they are ideal for travel or a work bag.
4. Learn Something New
Ashe expresses the importance of consistently shocking the brain and mind in order to wow it with new feats and information. It’s nice to maintain curiosity, to learn and grow. Ashe suggests learning something new and exciting, something that might even take time and patience to tackle, so that the brain is active more frequently. Ashe recommends trying a new instrument, as an example, or perhaps a language.
Ashe recommends exercising regularly to boost memory retention. Furthermore, Guillén Fernández, director of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour at Radboud University Medical Center in an interview with TIME, says that exercising before completing a task can improve memory retention, due to release of dopamine and norepinephrine.
Ashe says that socializing regularly can increase brain health and function, as well as boost mental sharpness and memory retention. Furthermore, a study in the July issue of The American Journal of Public Health, showed that socializing can reduce cognitive decline in the elderly. Lisa F. Berkman, the study’s senior author and director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies says that social engagement makes people mentally sharper.
Ashe explains that not getting enough sleep can mess with our hormones, especially cortisol, which can lead to greater stress. Such stress can negatively hurt our brains and lower memory retention and mental alertness. Thus, getting 7 to 9 hours nightly should be a healthy habit that takes priority in order to reduce cognitive decline and be more productive in the day.
8. Stay Organized
Ashe recommends staying organized for greater health, productivity, and brain function. Being in a clutter-free area will boost concentration. Additionally, organizing the information is also beneficial, as explained by experts at the University of Utah School Of Medicine. They say that treating information as a funnel, where you can compartmentalize information, you’ll be able to enhance retention based on priority and recognition.
Over email with Bustle, Lynne Goldberg, founder of OMG. I can Meditate! app says, “Incorporate 10 minutes of meditation into your daily routine, as meditation is been proven to increase memory retention.” Set aside this amount of time either each morning to start off on a high note, mid-day to avoid that dreaded crash, or in the evening before bed to calm the body and mind for rejuvenation.
10. Be Consistent In Healthy Habits
Goldberg suggests being consistent in healthy habits, as such commitment can help enhance the mind and brainpower on a daily basis in order to provide long-term benefits. For instance with meditation, Goldberg recommends, “be consistent with your meditation practice. It is better to find ten minutes everyday than one hour on the weekends.” Goldberg adds, “first thing in the morning works well because you can make sure to practice before your best intentions get sidetracked by your never-ending ‘to do’ list.”
11. Use Coconut Oil
According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, coconut oil can boost brain function and memory retention. By adding 35ml a day, you can get enough healthy fats that are associated with increased brain power and function. Add some to oatmeal, smoothies, stirfry dishes, or just eat plain! Being so versatile, coconut oil is the perfect complement to many dishes.
By adding these healthy habits to your lifestyle, you’ll be better able to boost brain health and memory retention, in order to achieve greater, long-term health and happiness benefits and help combat the cognitive decline that comes with the aging process.
By Isadora Baum / Bustle