Health Advocate Blog

Tips to keep your memory sharp

Forgot your keys, a recent movie plot, a neighbor’s name or the right word to use in a sentence? You’re not alone! While a dulled memory can be a result of the normal aging process, forgetfulness can also be triggered by a variety of factors, many of them pandemic-driven, including anxiety, stress, disrupted routines, confinement, boredom, and more. But no matter what your circumstances, the following tips can help restore your memory power.

Counter stress. Grief, relocating, financial troubles or just the ongoing bombardment of disturbing news can release stress hormones that, over time, can affect the brain’s ability to store and recall information. Whenever possible, unplug from social media, TV, etc. In addition, make a plan to deal with troubling stressful situations. For example, if money issues stress you out, develop a detailed plan to reduce your expenses and debt.

Challenge your brain! Recent lockdowns might have taken away novel experiences that help stimulate the brain. But you can still learn something new right where you are, whether it be a foreign language, computer skills, new recipes, or listening to an intriguing podcast series.

Give your brain solid cues. Try visualizing someone’s face with their name written across it. Or use association to connect a person with something you may also be interested in, like their birdwatching hobby. Use organization: Always keep keys, glasses, cell phone, and your wallet in the same place. Try grouping your grocery list by item category–even if you forget the list, you are more likely to remember its content.

Stay fit, eat right.  Cardiovascular health helps your memory because it allows the heart to effectively pump blood with nutrients and oxygen into the brain. To fuel your brain, exercise regularly—take daily walks or join an online workout class. Additionally, choose foods high in healthy fats, such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Go for fish, lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Don’t let memory slips throw you off!  Focus on your capabilities and really lean into learning what you want to remember.

If you’re becoming increasingly forgetful, check with your doctor. Memory problems can stem from depression, trauma, allergies, hypothyroidism, cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure, and other illnesses, as well as certain heart medications, antidepressants and even cold remedies. Other causes for memory problems include aging,  dementia and Alzheimer’s.