- Misplaced important paperwork somewhere in your office?!
- Completely forgotten about an important telephone call with a client?!
You're not alone – we all have lapses in memory sometimes, especially when we are busy at work or distracted by more domestically-rooted stresses and strains. But is there anything that we can do to boost the ol’ grey matter? Or is forgetfulness just something that we should accept?
I’ve been doing a bit of research into this issue and I'm pleased to say that the news is positive! There are a number of things that you can do to help boost your memory, from ‘exercising’ both your brain and body to eating ‘brain-boosting’ foods. I’ve mentioned a few in this blog, but there are a huge number of suggestions out there – I’d love to hear if you have any fail-proof methods for boosting memory, let me know!
The first memory-boosting tip I uncovered in my research is to ‘exercise your brain’, an idea explained clearly in this quote from www.helpguide.org:
“The Human Brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change. This ability is known as ‘Neuroplasticity’. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways. The brain’s incredible ability to reshape itself holds true when it comes to learning and memory. You can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory at any age”
According to the articles that I have read, the best way to exercise your brain is to learn something new and challenging, rather than to complete an activity that you once found challenging, but now find relatively simple to perform. Activities such as learning a new language or a musical instrument, or taking up a complicated activity that involves careful coordination (like a new ballroom dance or how to juggle) are all recommended as great ‘brain boosting activities’ that should help to increase your capacity to remember things.
Along with mental stimulation, physical activity also comes highly recommended by a number of reliable resources when it comes to improving memory. One blog post from Harvard University (www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110) cites a study carried out by the University of British Columbia, who found that ‘regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning’. For the researchers involved in the study, this evidence seems to suggest that physical exercises like running, aerobics, dancing and swimming actually change the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills – yet another great excuse to get out and about in the great outdoors and away from your desk!
For those of you too busy at the moment to take up a new hobby or get out and about to exercise, there does appear to be another source of help for your memory - Diet. We all know the benefits of a varied and balanced diet, but there is research to suggest that as well as having an impact on your wider health and well-being, certain foods can also help with brain function and memory. The BBC Good Food Website (www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/10-foods-boost-your-brainpower) lists a number of ‘brain boosting’ foods:
- Oily Fish – this contains essential fatty acids, occurring naturally as EPA and DHA. Low DHA levels have been linked with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Memory Loss.
- Wholegrains – these release glucose into the bloodstream more slowly than other carbohydrates, helping to keep you mentally alert all day rather than give you an initial ‘sugar rush’, then crash mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
- Blueberries – research carried out by Tufts University in the US suggests that Blueberries may be effective in improving/delaying short-term memory loss.
So there we have it – a number of great starting points to help each of us take back control of our memory! It’s great to know that there is something that we can do, so don’t beat yourself up over a missed telephone call or misplaced document; take a breath, eat some blueberries, and phone your customer back. Worse things happen at sea!!