One thing in life we all take for granted is our brain, we all use it automatically and rely on it to, think of an answer to a question or for writing this article like I am now, but what do we do to help keep our brains in shape. Believe it or not our brains are like computers, they pick up information see if it needs storing if it doesn’t it goes in the bin, if it does then it gets stored into a file. But our brains are far more complex than that and of any computer. Like physical strength and fitness our brains need continuous work done on them to stay in shape. Imagine if you just plodded through life and never enhanced or used your brain, you just went to work or stayed at home and in the evening just watched rubbish on TV sooner or later your brain will just use what it needs and you will find it very hard to learn anything new.
Being able to maintain a healthy memory depends on what you do. At any age you can start to help yourself, Neuroplasticity is the ability to adapt and change stimulation within your brain, this will be able to create new neural pathways and alter existing ones.
Below are some ways to help maintain and look after your brain.
Having a good sense of humour and being able to laugh is so important it allows natural chemicals to be released into the brain. Also if someone is telling a joke try and work out the punch line before they reveal it, this keeps your brain working and you on your toes. Surround yourself with happy people move towards laughter, enjoy it and soak it up hearing someone laugh can often help us laugh too. Have stupid or funny things around you maybe a silly picture of you or a friend or a toy, and when you’re having the day from hell look at it and remind yourself of the fun you can have in life.
Being stressed is on of the worst things for the brain, stress can destroy brain cells and can often damage the part of the brain (Hippocampus) that creates new memories and retrieves old ones. If you are aware that your becoming more and more stressed then go and see a Doctor as soon as you can, never deal with it by yourself use your family and friends if you feel you can. Meditation can alleviate a lot of stress and help you relax and deal with what maybe a small issue, I would advise that you still always consult your Doctor first it may need more attention.
Just as our bodies need a boost with the correct food so do our brains. Make sure that you reduce your intake of saturated fats these can sometimes reduce the improvement of your memory. Eat fruit and vegetables they contain natural vitamins and nutrients to help keep your brain healthy, they also contain natural antioxidants. Fish has always been reported to be a good food source for the brain and this is due to its content of Omega 3 oils. If you’re naturally a person that forgets a lot of things try using association as a memory tool, I use this a lot as I’m quite forgetful and if I’m not having to remember things I tend to not bother. There are lots of different techniques that you can use to remember things, please try these out and over time one will feel easier to use than the others and you can start to apply this to your daily living.
Some people have used these techniques in exams, e.g. if you had to remember the meaning of “Radar” - Radio detection and ranging, “Naafi” - Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes. You can make your own up if you’re that creative and like this method.
Method of Loci
If you had to remember a list of several words you would quite simply place them in locations that are easy for you to recall, e.g. Computer, banana, football, mobile phone, and bike. Start off thinking about what you do in the morning. You wake up in your bedroom and you notice your computer is on, you walk into the bathroom and notice you’ve left a banana on the side, you then walk into the kitchen and nearly trip over the football, you walk into the living room and take your mobile phone off charge, then you ride your bike to work. Keep it easy to recall and make it a natural progression of your day, also make it funny as it will make it easier to remember.
We all know thirty days has September, April, June and November all the rest have 31. It’s self explanatory.
Imagery and Senses
If you have to remember a lot of people’s names try this method and see how you get on. You find yourself being introduced to John Smith, simple you look at that person and imagine them as a can of John Smiths. If you have to remember someone’s name that is more difficult try to associate them with someone you know, if for instance their name is Mike if you don’t know a mike, see that person in front of you as a microphone by making it funny you will remember them. If their surname is Griffin and you don’t know anyone by that name then imagine a Griffin bird holding a microphone, you’ll be surprised how much fun you will start to have with this now.
The brain is your most important organ look after it and it will look after you.
© Paul Alland 2012