If your memory isn’t what it once was or you’re worried about everyday forgetfulness, worry no more! While you may believe that your brain is beginning to slip, the truth is that in mid life your brain is most likely at its best. In fact, it’s during this time that life experiences combined with decade’s worth of neural connections result in peak intelligence and ability. We stumbled upon an article in the December issue of Real Simple magazine and found the following information to be useful for capitalizing on your brain’s ability.
So, what should you do to capitalize on your brain’s ability? It’s simple…start by making mental space. While there is plenty of room in your brain, don’t fill it with unnecessary information. Media may be one culprit – the average person is exposed to 10 hours of media a day. This exposure takes a toll on your ability to focus and form new memories while also taking up valuable space that could be used for more important information. Try to limit the amount of time you spend on the internet each day to about an hour. This is enough time to encourage neural engagement without overtaxing your brain.
Another suggestion is to avoid is multitasking. You may think you’re doing each task to the best of your ability, but the reality is that by focusing on two important things at once, (such as thinking about a future presentation during a meeting) you are limiting your brain’s ability to turn these thoughts into long term memories. You’re also not completing either task as well as you could be.
Now that you know what not to do, it’s time to focus on what you CAN be doing to improve your memory…
Maintaining a healthy diet can be crucial for your brain. The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet has proven to slow cognitive decline. This diet emphasizes nuts, beans, whole grains, poultry, olive oil, leafy greens, berries, and a daily glass of wine. Middle-aged and older adults following this diet for one year have scored the equivalent of 7.5 years younger on cognitive tests, according to a 2015 study from Rush University and Harvard School of Public Health.
If you’ve heard that classical music and brain puzzles will help increase your brain’s function, this may not be necessarily true. Of course, doing either of these things is better than doing nothing, but the best way to boost your brainpower is by learning. This can be either mental or physical, such as learning a new language or physical activity.
Another important factor in cognitive health is sleep! If you have just one night of shortened sleep, it can take several nights to get back on track. Research has shown that many key benefits of sleep come between the sixth and eighth hour, making it essential to have a full night’s sleep.
Try not to worry if you find yourself forgetting why you opened the refrigerator and focus on what you could be doing (or not doing) to help get your brain back on track.