Everyone can relate to having moments where your memory just lapses. Sometimes I can’t remember someone’s name, or I forget where I stored a computer file. After not using Final Cut Pro for a couple weeks, for instance, I started struggling with how to use this application as proficiently as I once had. I am fortunate to have a great short-term memory; however I often forget details previously read or the names of people I met after only a couple of days. I attribute these memory hiccups to stress, or how many other thoughts are going through my head in my fast-paced world.
As you may already guess, a strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. In this sense, your brain can be improved significantly with better food and a balanced lifestyle. The brain can also be trained similarly to your own muscles: your brain acts like a muscle, needing to be employed on a daily basis. The good news is that it’s not a person’s age that has say over how much capacity the brain has: in fact, there are plenty of examples of people who start a university degree at a later age.
To give you an example, at 35 I learned Portuguese, at 40 Spanish and at 42 I learned English. I studied and practiced daily languages for several years. At that time, my brain was trained to remember words and sentence structures. It was easy for me to memorize and recall new words and sentences. Now, my focus is no longer on learning a language, so I have a hard time remembering some easy words that I’d love to be able to use during my travels in Asia. My brain is simply not trained in this field anymore. However, I know that this specific ‘language brain muscle’ can be trained again at any time.
Here I give you 9 tips to improve your memory and brain performance. Each of these tips are important, but you’ll achieve the best results if you combine as many as possible. The quote of Denis Waitley comes to mind: “The results you achieve will be in direct proportion to the effort you apply”.
#1 Move your body
Physical activities not only strengthen muscles but also improve your brain performance. The reason is obvious: increased heart rhythm causes more blood and, in turn, more oxygen to enter into the brain. Even with light exercises such as walking or slow jogging, the amount of oxygen in your brain increases significantly. The brain needs oxygen in the same way any other part of your body needs. Furthermore, increased oxygen in your brain makes you feel more alert and relaxed, which may positively affect the brain’s task performance.
#2 Focus on one task at a time
We can concentrate very well and think clearly once we are able to identify and eliminate distractions. Therefore, it makes sense to pause for a few minutes to identify possible distractions: for example, you may be working on a small project that is not part of your more urgent tasks. Sometimes it may even be beneficial to close your office door and switch off your mobile phone.
Lack of focus due to multitasking is one of the main reasons of low productivity.
Additionally, giving attention to social media platforms whilst writing a report or studying a certain topic can make your brain tired. Remember: just like how your brain is a muscle that requires daily lifting, it also gets tired with too much exertion.
# 3 Eat brain foods
We all know what you eat affects not only your body but your brain. I already mentioned how stress negatively impacts our performance. Underlying chronic inflammation caused by food toxins and excess body fat creates ongoing body stress and is linked to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, anxiety, high blood pressure and so on.
By eating good food, your gut keeps your immune system strong and inflammation under control. If you eat foods rich in antioxidants, high quality fats, vitamins and minerals, you not only increase your energy but you also boost your brain health. Therefore, choose whole nutritious foods that support your gut and your brain concurrently.
Here are some of the best foods that support your brain: avocados, beets, most berries, broccoli, celery, coconut oil, dark chocolate, eggs, most leafy greens, nuts and most garden herbs such as basil, coriander, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon balm and parsley.
#4 Drink plenty of water
If you realize that over 80% of your brain is water, it makes sense that water is an important substance for memory. Rule #1 in nurturing the brain is to provide it with enough water. Lack of water causes release of stress hormones that damage the brain in the longterm.
Whilst one cup of coffee can stimulate your brain and increase your productivity, an excess of coffee or other stimulating drinks causes the opposite. Therefore, keep your consumption of coffee, green and black tea to a minimum.
#5 Write down tasks and set priorities
Most successful people are very clear about their priorities. It also helps to write down all your ideas and tasks. Why should you write everything down? Because you’ll accumulate clearer, more confident ideas. If you can remember the good ideas, you can build on them. And, as a side effect, you’ll feel calmer as the tasks occupying your mind fall away.
Click HERE to read “6 Steps to Increase Your Productivity in 2018”.
#6 Think positively
It is a fact that happy people have more available energy. The increase of energy is related to increased endorphin levels. A smile on your face coupled with positive thoughts seem to increase brain activity as well. In a nutshell, the happier you are the better your brain works.
Good moods also help with your problem-solving skills because they broaden your scope of attention. They enable you to see solutions to challenges, rather than just the problems.
In my experience, mindful meditation, yoga, qigong or even walking the dog not only calms one down, but puts one into a positive state that can last throughout the day.
#7 Get enough sleep
It’s no secret that when you’re rested, your ability to focus, learn and remember increases significantly. If you are rested, you make less mistakes and you have more energy available.
Research also shows that the quality of your sleep influences your decision-making process. This makes sense, because if you feel tired you’re probably looking for shortcuts to finish the task at hand, instead of searching for the better and more thoughtful solutions.
#8 Visualize your goals
Make use of the power of visualization. The brain thinks in pictures. Think and visualize your goals as already accomplished. Look with your inner eye at your imagined achievements. Observe your feelings and write down all the ideas floating into your mind whilst doing this.
Some people call this ‘day dreaming’, but it’s so much more than that. Imagine this as a way to make all the hidden connections visible between where you are now and where you want to be. As a side-effect, this process is very calming and encouraging.
#9 Train your brain
There are so many different ways you can train your brain, and it’s actually fun! Perhaps the classic sample of brain-training is playing chess. It doesn’t really matter how often you win, it matters that you play and have fun. A study of 4000 students playing chess for four month showed a significant rise in IQ scores. Besides, chess can even help prevent Alzheimer’s.
According to a German study, playing chess strengthens both sides of the brain and increases creativity. In the end, chess increases your memory and your problem-solving skills. There are many reasons to learn and play chess. But there are also many other games that have similar favorable effects.
Over to you now. Have you tried some of these ways to improve your brain power? I’d love your comments on this topic.