Misplaced your keys? Can’t find your glasses? Forgotten what you came upstairs for? You’re not alone if this kind of information slips your mind from time to time. That said, having a bad memory isn’t something you should ignore.
Based on estimates using the current US dementia rates, one in six women and one in ten men will develop dementia. Of course, your forgetfulness doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more likely to develop dementia. But taking steps to improve your memory may help prevent mental decline while also giving your general health a boost too.
Wondering how to stop being forgetful? Keep reading to find out the tricks and lifestyle changes that can help keep your memory sharp.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
A poor diet isn’t just detrimental to your physical health, it can also speed up mental decline. Eating an unhealthy diet full of processed carbs, trans fat, and sugar causes your brain function to slow down, with an increased risk of dementia and brain shrinkage on the cards for those with bad eating habits.
Foods high in saturated fat like red meat and butter are especially bad for your brain function and memory. In the same way that this type of fat causes sticky plaques to form in the arteries, it can also clog up the brain’s neurological process.
As this 2012 study showed, participants who ate the most saturated fats performed worse on thinking and memory tests than participants who followed a diet low in saturated fat.
So, what should you be eating to keep your mind and body healthy?
First off, don’t think that you need to avoid all fats. Foods high in monounsaturated fatty acids such as cashews, peanuts, olive oil, and avocados are all great for boosting your brain health. The same goes for foods high in zinc, such as eggs, legumes, whole grains, and oysters.
Folic acid is another essential nutrient for a good working memory. Grapefruits are a good source of folic acid, although this can interfere with some medications so you might prefer to take a supplement. Make sure to get enough vitamin B12 too. To up your levels, eat more shellfish, eggs, cheese, and lean red meat, or take a B complex vitamin.
And, when it comes to produce, make sure to eat your reds as well as your greens. Researchers at Georgetown University found that resveratrol, a pigment in red fruit such as raspberries, grapes, and strawberries, may help to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.
2. Vocalize Information
While eating a healthier diet is a good start, this won’t help you learn how to improve short term memory.
One of the best ways to remember something for later is to say it out loud. This works particularly well for repeated actions we do every day, often without thinking, such as parking our car or putting down our cellphone.
Instead of switching to automatic pilot, stop and say aloud, ‘I am putting down my cellphone on the kitchen counter.’ Getting into this habit helps the information enter your brain by two separate inputs (speaking and seeing), reinforcing chemical paths in your memory system for a stronger connection.
3. Work Up a Sweat
We all know that physical activity is great for your heart. But did you know that working out is also strengthens your brain? Researchers found that aerobic exercise increases the size of your brain’s memory bank, the hippocampus.
The good news is, getting hot and sweaty at the gym isn’t the only way to improve a bad memory. Sweating it out in the sauna is also a great way to boost your memory health, as you’ll learn if you read more here. Like exercise, saunas help reduce stress and depression, which are both associated with a higher risk of dementia.
In fact, one Finnish study showed that male participants who often used saunas had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
4. Make a Point of Listening
Do you have a bad memory or are you a bad listener?
Our busy lives and endless to-do lists can often distract us from taking in important information. And, if you were only half listening when your husband said he would be working late, there’s little chance you’ll remember it later.
Make sure to focus on the matter at hand and pay attention when someone is talking to you, especially if they’re telling you new information such as their name or directions. Taking this information in and processing it at the time will make it a lot easier to keep on top of everything.
5. Stay Organized
Take steps to live a more organized life and you’ll soon see that your bad memory was more a symptom of disorganization than chronic forgetfulness.
As soon as you make an appointment, save it in your smartphone’s calendar. Try and complete small tasks when you remember them, or if that’s not possible, set a reminder on your phone.
And if you’re always misplacing your keys, glasses, and other items, make a point of keeping them in the same place.
6. Form Mental Images and Associations
While we can’t teach you how to restore short term memory, there are ways to make new information more memorable.
Most people find images easier to remember than verbal or written information. Using mental images and associating them with new words and pieces of information will help you recall them later.
This trick works well for remembering anything from new people’s names to foreign words. For example, you might imagine your new colleague Carol singing Christmas carols to remember her name for future reference. Or, to remember the Spanish word for foot, ‘pie’, you could imagine cutting into a pie with your foot.
7. Exercise Your Mind
While we’re on the subject of learning a new language, exercising your mind with mentally stimulating activities like this can help keep your brain in shape.
If Spanish isn’t for you, you might prefer to learn how to play a musical instrument or master a new card game. Of course, you don’t have to learn something new. Anything from crosswords to listening to podcasts will help make you think and give your brain a workout.
How to Stop Being Forgetful
Whether you’re wondering how to stop being forgetful or want to improve your brain health and memory function in the long-term, following these tips is a great place to start.
And, with the right fuel and stimulation, as well as some useful memory tricks, you’ll soon find it easier to remember all kinds of new information.
For more ways to stay healthy, be sure to check out our other blog posts!