Do you need to sharpen your memory? Without my daily routines to guide me, I find myself forgetting stuff. It helps if I make a list and maintain my calendar, but I wanted to do more. Here’s what I found out:
Anxiety Doesn’t Help
We’re all pretty anxious right now about many things, including Covid. Do what you can to control and sooth your anxiety. Remind yourself that you’re taking all precautions for Covid (and do it! Wear your mask, wash your hands, maintain your social distance, keep up your connections safely). Support the local businesses that are most important to you. If you’re anxious about what you see on the news, review your own actions in relation to discrimination, and resolve to do better if necessary. We can’t do it all, but we can do one thing. One thing over and over, or maybe one new thing every day, to do what we can about the things that make us anxious.
Ask yourself, “what is making me anxious?” and “what would help?” Do you need to ask for that help? There are many ways to learn more about the important issues that are fueling our anxiety, and knowledge can translate into action. Taking action often helps us feel less anxious and overwhelmed, both enemies of memory.
According to Terrence Sejnowski, PhD, a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, regular moderate exercise (elevating your heart rate above 85 beats per minute for 20 minutes) helps maintain the health of neurons in the hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for forming long-term memories. Take that walk! Do that morning yoga class you found on YouTube! (Check out free yoga on-line, like Yoga with Adrienne.)Many of the Y’s are offering free movement and Zumba classes on Zoom, if you like to be part of a program. Exercise also helps depression and anxiety, so keep moving. And all of this will help you sharpen your memory.
A good night’s sleep has been scientifically associated with memory retention and brain health. Experiences are consolidated during sleep, and the brain uses that time to run through a cleaning cycle. I was really happy to discover that a 2016 study at the University of California-Riverside found that participants who took a 90 minute midday nap were better able to retain information and meet creative challenges. So sharpen your memory in the hammock or on the couch! And do what you can to get a good night’s sleep. Shut off the TV/stop using your devices an hour before bed, take a nice shower, perhaps do a bit of meditation. Read a good (but not thrilling) book. Create a relaxing routine and tell yourself you’re going to have a restorative sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for your day.
Drink That Water!
You must have noticed how your potted plants wilt without water, and your flowers need a daily drink when they’re blooming their best. Water yourself! It will help you sharpen your memory. Especially in the summer, we need to hydrate and humidify from the inside out. Your brain will feel better, your skin will look better, your digestive system will function better, and your muscles won’t cramp as much if you’re properly hydrated. You’ll eat less, improve your mood, and definitely help sharpen your memory.
These are four simple tips, all within your power to do. In this time (spring 2020) when it seems like we have control over very little, it turns out we have control over a lot that can make us feel better.