Many people look for treatments or medicines which will improve their memory. However, if you suffer from poor memory, the first thing you should do is to work through some simple lifestyle changes.
At the centre of improving your memory is keeping your brain healthy and functioning well, so there are also a number of 'brain games' and exercises you can do to keep your brain active.
If your memory problems are related to the medicines you have been prescribed, speak to your doctor to see if there are any alternatives available. In addition, seek medical attention if your memory problems started after an accident, even a mild knock to the head, as it may be a sign of concussion or other form of brain injury.
Memory problems are commonly associated with stress. Feeling stressed can lead to difficulties in concentration, which in turn affects memory. For example, feeling a sense of panic because you cannot remember facts for an impending exam will make it more likely that you will forget them, or not even properly register them in the first place.
Learning how to relax and de-stress is important for your general health and wellbeing. It will help you to concentrate when you need to. If you take the time each day to relax, you are likely to notice the benefit in your mental function.
Similarly, low mood can affect your memory and concentration. If you are not feeling your best emotionally, you will be easily distracted and also find it hard to focus properly on the task in hand. If you can manage this problem, you are more likely to notice your memory improving.
Try to laugh as much as possible. Laughter triggers chemical responses from various areas of the brain, keeping the brain cells all over the brain healthy. Additionally, listening to jokes and trying to work out punch lines works in a similar way to performing the types of brain exercises described below.
Laughter also helps you to relax, de-stress and improves your mood, so that you will generally feel much brighter and able to concentrate.
The more you use your brain, the healthier it will be. It is important to keep your brain active so that the brain cells (neurones) become good at making new connections and strengthening old ones.
By socialising regularly and experiencing new situations, your brain is more likely to work efficiently.
Often playing brain games such as Sudoku or crosswords, taking up a new hobby, or learning a new skill helps with this too; it is like exercising your mental function.
Do not just exercise your brain but your whole body. Exercise improves circulation around your body as well as your brain. A continual fresh supply of oxygen and blood keeps your brain tissue healthy and functioning well. The release of chemicals in the brain triggered by exercise helps to protect brain cells and keep them working efficiently.
Sleep is important for your general health as well as your memory. If you do not sleep properly,
and are constantly tired, then you will find it more difficult to
concentrate. Sleep is also important for consolidating information that
has entered your brain. For example, if you are studying all night for
an exam, and don’t take the opportunity to sleep, then your brain
doesn’t have the chance to mull over and internalise the information.
Your diet affects the way your brain works.
Certain foods such as oily fish, nuts, fruit and greens are often termed as ‘brain foods’. This is because they contain the nutrients, including essential fatty acids, which feed and revitalise your brain cells and improve circulation.
It is worth keeping your brain hydrated too, so drinking plenty of water every day is important. Certain fluids such as green tea and cranberry or grape juice when drunk in moderation boost blood flow to the brain.
Ginkgo biloba, one of the oldest medicinal herbs, originated in China where it was known as the ‘Memory Tree’. Research has shown that it can improve the circulation in the smallest blood vessels known as capillaries, thus benefiting the function of many tissues including the brain.