Have you forgotten what you had for lunch yesterday? Do little things keep slipping your mind? Don’t panic! It may simply be a case of 'too much information'.
Whilst there are several medical reasons for losing your memory, it’s much more likely that your brain has become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data it is expected to process in our 24/7 society. Our attention is demanded at every turn. Smartphones, round the clock TV, Facebook, Twitter, taking work home - we are exposed to a constant flow of mental stimulation.
While processing new information can be good for your memory, short-term memory has a limit to how much it can cope with and soon fills up, whereas long-term memory has a huge capacity. The problem is that trying to process too much information in one go slows the brain down and this can affect memory.
Your brain is amazing. It can constantly adapt and change throughout your life. This means that, with the right stimulation, it constantly makes new connections, and you can harness this power to improve your memory.
Exercise in not only good for your body, it’s great for your brain. It increases oxygen to the little grey cells, whilst reducing the risks of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both of which are known factors in potential memory loss.
Are you getting enough sleep? You might think you are cunningly getting ahead by working into the wee small hours, but you are only storing up problems for later. Sleep is essential for your memory to assimilate all it has taken in during the day.
Stress is debilitating for your brain and damages the hippocampus, where memory is formed. Be sure to have a read of my article 'Stress and Your Health', and Emma's article 'Stress-Busting', for more tips and advice.
Nurture your friendships. Socialising has been shown to be an effective way of slowing memory loss. Having a good old laugh with friends is even better, as laughter has a positive effect on the whole of your brain and triggers the release of endorphins - the 'feel good' chemical.
Think about what you are eating. Omega 3 fatty acids are particularly good for promoting brain health. We've all heard the saying, 'fish is brain food'. Well, if that fish is oily, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or trout, it’s absolutely true. Try walnuts, too, for a good source of omega 3.
Give your brain a rest from time to time
Further, ensure that you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables - the more highly coloured the better. They contain antioxidants that help mop up damaging free radicals. You should also look to reduce your alcohol intake, as it is well known to kill brain cells.
Finally, limit the amount of sugar in you diet. It’s generally not good for you, and there is an increasing awareness of the negative effects of sugar on brain health. This is why diabetics are much more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.
Give your brain a workout. 'Use it or lose it' applies just as much to your brain as to your muscles, so why not have a go at the occasional crossword puzzle? Equally, give your brain a rest from time to time and switch off your devices. It’s good to empty your head now and again!
“What is life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare...”
- William Henry Davies
So, stimulate your brain and boost your memory!