We’ve all been there. Someone asks you the name of a musician or the title of that movie you watched last month, and no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t remember.
An occasional moment of forgetfulness is totally normal. But wouldn’t it be great if you could improve your memory so that these moments occur less often?
Here’s the good news – you can!
All you have to do is make a few small changes in your lifestyle and add certain activities to your routine. In doing so, you can boost your memory while enhancing your analytical thinking skills at the same time.
To learn exactly which steps to take in order to increase your chances of having a healthy brain all throughout your life, just keep reading.
- Improve Your Sleep
It’s said that the two pillars of health are diet and exercise. However, the base on which these two pillars stand is sleep. Without consistent high-quality sleep, you can’t hope to achieve greatness in any aspect of your health, including your memory.
The amount of sleep you need depends on your age. That said, the majority of adults (those between the ages of 18 and 65) need 7-9 hours of good sleep per night. Yes, that means every night, even weekends.
Sleep is vital to memory, as your brain consolidates memories while you rest. During a good night’s sleep, your brain is able to strengthen short-term memories and transform them into long-term memories.
How to Get High-Quality Sleep
If you’re like the average American adult, your life is hectic. You can barely find time to shower, let alone get eight hours of restful sleep. But if sleep is far down on your list of priorities, it’s time to make a change.
The first step in getting high-quality sleep is to make it a priority in your life. Remind yourself that, without sleep, every other aspect of your life will suffer. Many of us consider sleep a waste of time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Once you’ve changed the way you view sleep, it’s time to implement a nighttime routine. This is the most effective way to tell your body it’s time to rest.
Put your phone, computer, and any other electronics away at least an hour before bed. Instead of scrolling, treat yourself to a warm bath, a calming yoga session, or a quiet conversation with your partner.
- Get More Exercise
As our lives become more and more convenient, we become more and more sedentary. But, as mentioned above, exercise is absolutely critical to good health and can make all the difference in improving your cognitive ability.
The CDC and the American Heart Association agree that a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week is necessary for optimal health. Now, remember, this is a minimum. When it comes to exercise, more movement is almost always better.
Our bodies were made to move! Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, a healthy heart, good mental health, and a plethora of other positive health indicators. It also increases the volume of your prefrontal cortex and your medial temporal cortex, two areas of the brain that control thinking and memory.
Don’t feel that you have to purchase an expensive gym membership and hit the weights every day to reap the benefits. Instead, focus on an activity that you look forward to doing. If you love the gym, great! If not, there’s nothing wrong with getting your daily activity in the form of a morning walk or an afternoon swim.
Exercise has a medicinal effect on your memory and other cognitive functions. After a few weeks or months of regular exercise, you’ll notice the improvements in your memorization and analytical thinking skills. But if you want to keep these improvements for life, you have to make staying active a lifestyle.
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- Avoid Added Sugars
Who doesn’t love a slice of cake or a bowl of ice cream once in a while? If you have a sweet tooth, it’s okay to indulge it – in moderation.
There’s no question that sugar is delicious. So delicious, in fact, that it’s actually addicting. But too much added sugar in your diet can lead to a myriad of health issues, one of which is a decline in cognitive ability.
Try your best to ensure that the bulk of your diet is made up of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Healthy fats and carbohydrates are also important. Stay away from sugary beverages such as soda, and limit your consumption of cookies, cakes, and other foods containing high amounts of processed sugars.
Next time you want a sweet treat, try reaching for a bowl of blueberries or a homemade strawberry smoothie. The less added, processed sugars you eat, the better natural sugars such as those found in fruits will taste.
- Enjoy a Bit of Chocolate
Another good choice of an after-dinner treat is chocolate. Not just any chocolate, however, it should be high-quality dark chocolate. This is because dark chocolate contains a high cocoa content.
Cocoa is great because it’s a sweet treat but also contains nutrients beneficial to your memory and your overall health. The primary nutrients in dark chocolate are antioxidants known as flavonoids.
These particular antioxidants are beneficial to the brain because they stimulate the growth of blood vessels and neurons. In addition, they increase blood flow to the areas of the brain responsible for memory.
For maximum benefits, look for a chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher. This will not only increase your intake of flavonoids but decrease the number of sugars you’re consuming.
- Play Brain Games
It can be helpful to think of your brain as a muscle. Because, like a muscle, your brain requires training to reach peak performance. Just as you can’t expect to have toned biceps without weightlifting, you can’t boost cognitive performance without exercising your brain.
The best way to work out your brain is through brain games, as they’re both fun and beneficial to your cognitive health. There are several different options that are good for both your memory and analytical thinking, it all comes down to personal preference.
Here are a few options to consider:
Logic puzzles are a fantastic choice because of the variety within the genre. There’s something for everyone! You can enjoy a crossword puzzle, a series of riddles, or Sudoku – all of these options are just as beneficial to your concentration and memory as the next.
Logic puzzles are also easy to find. There are many free options available online, but if you prefer using pen and paper, you can find puzzle books at any bookstore.
Board games are especially good for analytical thinking, as many of them require the use of this part of the brain. And unlike Sudoku or riddles, they’re best when played with more than one person, meaning you can bond with loved ones while you exercise your mind.
The most effective options are those that require a level of strategy, such as chess, checkers, scrabble, and other “thinking” games. Standard jigsaw puzzles are another great tool for keeping your mind sharp.
Not a fan of standard old school games? Don’t worry, video games can be beneficial as well. Similar to board games, certain video games work the analytical part of your brain, it’s a matter of choosing the right ones.
To improve your memory and focus, choose games that require strategizing. These can be games that challenge you to solve problems in the short term or to use your skill to achieve broad goals.
- Be a Lifelong Learner
One of the best things you can do for your memory, recall, and overall cognitive health, is to be a lifelong learner. Having an unquenchable thirst for knowledge throughout your entire life will keep your mind sharp well after you’re finished with school.
Staying in school your entire life is certainly an option, but if you don’t have the budget or aren’t interested in the free classes in your area, there are many other ways to learn. The first of which is to always ask questions. Never be satisfied with not knowing something – if you have a question, search for the answer.
We live in the age of technology, where the answer to any question we could ever have is at the tips of our fingers. Take advantage of this fact!
Have you ever wondered why whales breach? Wished you knew Italian? Wanted to learn to play the piano? It’s time to chase the answers and start building the skills.
- Join a Book Club
In addition to researching topics that interest you and learning new skills, consider joining a book club. This will help to hold you accountable with reading, but will also give you a chance to consider new perspectives and hone your analytical skills.
Yes, you can read on your own, but joining a club is more beneficial, as you’ll be discussing what you read and possibly even debating your perspectives. This exchange of ideas is what will help to develop both your skills of articulation and your analytical thinking.
- Consult Your Doctor
It’s not fun to think about, but if lapses in memory are a constant problem in your life, there might be an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. If your lack of memory or thinking skills get to a point where it’s more than an occasional annoyance, set an appointment with your physician.
Though supplements such as Neuronol can help to boost your memory and cognitive function, it’s important to get professional advice.
Your doctor will be able to help you determine the root of the issue. It could be something as simple as a nutrient deficiency. For example, if your body is low on vitamin D, you’ll experience a decline in cognitive function.
If this is the case, spending more time in the sunshine or adding a vitamin D supplement to your health regimen is all you need to reverse your symptoms entirely.
However, it could be something more serious, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Pay particularly close attention to your memory and your overall health if you know your family has a history of this condition.
- Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
There’s nothing wrong with having a drink with friends every now and then. In fact, an occasional glass of red wine can have a positive effect on your heart health.
That said, drinking too much can be detrimental to your health and have a profound negative impact on your memory.
Alcohol has a neurotoxic effect on your brain. Specifically, too much of it can damage your hippocampus, the part of the brain primarily responsible for memory. Like sugar, you don’t have to cut it out of your life completely, everything in moderation is key.
Avoid binge drinking, meaning consuming alcohol to a point that your blood alcohol content reaches 0.08 grams per ml or above.
If you struggle with binge drinking, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for help. It’s a tough step to take, but speaking to a counselor can do wonders for your mental health and put you on the road to more positive habits.
Start Improving Your Analytical Thinking and Memory Today
Although genetics play a role in your memory and analytical thinking abilities, they’re not the end all be all. No matter who you are or where you come from, you can improve all aspects of your health, including the health of your brain, through positive lifestyle habits.
Building a healthy lifestyle can be a difficult task, but one well worth the effort. You’ll thank yourself when you have energy, vitality, and an excellent memory, well into your later years.
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