As we get older it is common for our memory and concentration levels to deteriorate. There are a number of factors that contribute to this such as diet, stress, and lack of sleep. The great thing is that there are lots of things that you can do to help you enhance your brain’s performance. You may be a student, working professional, both or a senior citizen – the following tips will go a long way in helping you improve your memory and ensuring you stay mentally sharp.
Take your brain to the gym
Learning to play a musical instrument, building a 1000 piece puzzle, learning a new language, taking art classes. What is key is that the activity must be challenging to you and not something that you are already good at. The activity should teach you something new, provide mental stimulation, be challenging, and provide a sense of fulfillment.
Give your body a workout
There are certain chemicals that the body releases when you take part in physical exercise, these help with stress management. The flow of oxygen – which is vital for the brain is increased and the risk of diseases that lead to memory loss is decreased. Activities that are good for the heart are also generally good for your ‘think tank’. Try to partake in an exercise that engages movement from your arms and legs like running and swimming.
Close your eyes and sleep
The majority of adults require 7.5 – 9 hours of sleep every night in order to function optimally the next day. Do your best to stick to a pattern, sleeping, and waking at the same hour each day and though it may sound silly because you’re a grown-up, try to take naps when you can and take breaks throughout the day. Avoid screens: TV, phone and tablets about an hour before you sleep, rather read a book. Sleep deprivation will have a negative impact on memory, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking skills.
You are what you eat
It is highly recommended that you limit the amount of sugar and caffeine you take in and keep high fat and junk food to a minimum. The foods listed in the table below have been proven to have a variety of health benefits for your body and mind.
|Hard-boiled egg/egg york||Romaine Lettuce||Chia seeds|
|Wheat bran/ All bran||Dark chocolate||Pumpkin seeds|
|Ginkgo Biloba & Ginseng||Extra virgin olive oil||Coconut oil|
|Avocado||Kale, spinach, Swiss chard||Salmon, trout|
|Beetroot||Rosemary, Turmeric||Tuna, halibut|
|Blueberries||Kidney, pinto & soybeans||Mackerel, sardines, anchovies|
Spend time with ‘abangani’ / friends, laugh, and keep stress levels low
Humans are social animals so healthy relationships stimulate the brain and contribute to your emotional wellbeing. You want to avoid excessive stress as it is the brain’s worst enemy and can lead to other health issues, talk about your problems instead of bottling them up. Laughter, on the other hand, helps us think far more broadly, so share a joke, laugh at yourself and play like a child.
A few more tips
Do one thing at a time and when you do focus on that one thing alone, clear up the area in which you are working if at all possible and switch off things that will distract you, you can even invest in a pair of headphones. When your attention is divided or you’re ‘multitasking’ it is easy to get confused and become overwhelmed, panic can set in causing you to freeze up, which is counterproductive. Try to take breaks, how often will depend on you, some people can concentrate for 25 minutes, others for 45. So take regular breaks and then go back to the task at hand. Be nice to yourself, you’re not a machine, and even machines break sometimes – set reminders and write things down.