How to Improve Memory: What Causes Memory Loss
Many of us think that our memory is innate and we do nothing to improve it. We don’t appreciate its importance until it starts to fail us. However, it is very important that we are aware of the fundamental role it plays in our day-to-day lives. Our memory is what defines who we are: our feelings, experiences and memories. Without memory, we would have no way of remembering the names, places, people, events that we have experienced.
Maintaining an intellectually active life helps prevent our brains from deteriorating prematurely. It is very important to start taking care of the mind before the first symptoms of cognitive decline appear. Paying attention to details, concentrating, remembering a thing, all of this involves many brain processes that can be sharpened with practice and training.
“We are what we remember. If we lose our memory, we lose our identity and our identity is the accumulation of our experiences. When we walk down the memory lane, it can be unconsciously, willingly, selectively, impetuously or sometimes grudgingly. By following our stream of consciousness we look for lost time and things past. Some reminiscences become anchor points that can take another scope with the wisdom of hindsight.” Erik Pevernagie
You may think that you are too old to improve memory, but the truth is that our brain has great flexibility. Brain flexibility is that, with correct stimulation, the brain can create new neural pathways and connections, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in new ways. Our brain can develop, adapt and improve throughout our lives.
Should I be concerned about memory problems?
If you feel that memory problems recur continuously, it is best to go to a specialized professional. In this way, you will be able to determine if the symptoms are caused by some specific factor that can be reversed, if they are due to normal aging, or if, on the contrary, there is some type of cognitive impairment or dementia that must be treated.
It is advisable to always try to have a positive attitude and be aware of how fundamental it is to work with our memory. If what causes us memory problems is work stress or the hustle and bustle that we have every day, we should not worry, but we do have to take care of trying to improve our memory through different strategies. You can do activities such as reading, studying, solving brain teasers or you can also stimulate your brain with clinical cognitive training programs or memory games.
What are memory problems?
We all forget from time to time: We get distressed by not remembering where we left the keys, by forgetting the birthday of an important person, by getting confused and confusing the time the train left, or what day we had arranged to meet our friend. What happens in our brain when we forget things? What are the causes of memory problems?
Memory problems are one of the most frequent causes of neuropsychological consultation. We should not associate them only with older adults, since memory failures can occur at any age.
Mild forgetfulness, or small memory lapses, is often part of the normal aging process. Older adults may need more time to remember or learn something new. However, we all sometimes have difficulty remembering a certain name, or word, we have all lost our keys at times and forgotten an important appointment.
Often many people show daily forgetfulness. Not all memory lapses are symptoms of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, or any other type of dementia. These pathologies usually present with progressive memory failures in frequency and severity. If memory loss is detected by family members or close friends and begins to interfere with daily activities (work, social relationships, etc; it is important to carry out a professional neuropsychological evaluation and seek qualified professional advice on dementia and memory problems.
Memory problems affect any type of population, not just people over 50 years of age. In fact, according to neuropsychologist Alvaro Bilbao, it is increasingly common to find memory problems in young people or even in children, which can cause attention problems. Despite everything, memory problems are one of the most frequent complaints in the elderly.
“Memory is the only paradise from which we cannot be expelled”. (J.Paul, Fr. Richter)
What Causes memory loss?
Memory problems of different types can occur, either problem that prevents memories of the past (“What did I eat yesterday?” – retrograde amnesia), or problems in remembering new events such as the plans we have for the next week (amnesia antegrade). At the same time, memory problems can also occur if we suffer from acquired brain damage. Regardless of what is the reason that causes memory problems or what type of problems we talk about, the person who suffers from them may feel anxiety about forgetting.
In one way or another, memory problems are often reversible and fixable. In these cases, memory problems are caused at bases that we can control in some way, although it is always advisable to see a doctor in order to give a possible solution or avoid future cognitive deterioration.
Carlos Regazzoni (neurologist) affirms that some possible causes for which memory problems can occur may be due to “blood pressure, blood sugar problems and most of the time, stress from overwork.” It is for this reason that more and more young people suffer from memory problems and it should not always be associated with the dreaded word dementia. To remember things it is essential to store the information in memory and for this, we must pay close attention. Many times memory failures are caused simply by not having paid the necessary attention or even because our brain sometimes distorts reality.
Our memory can fail for different and varied reasons. Among the main causes that can cause memory problems we can find:
1. Stress and Tiredness: Side effects of some type of medication or even the effect of treatments for some diseases such as periods of changes in our lives, work pressures, Smoking or intoxication with alcohol or other drugs can damage brain activity, affecting the capacity and quality of memory.
2. Lack of sleep: When we sleep, the areas of the brain related to memory are activated and on the contrary, if we sleep little, these areas are weakened. That is why it is advisable to sleep an average of 8 hours a day.
Moments in which we are most nervous or moments in which we experience very strong emotions.
3. Lack of Vitamins: A deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause memory problems. That is why experts recommend the adequate consumption of this vitamin in different foods or even in cases of pregnant women, people with gastrointestinal diseases, vitamin supplements. Even a high-calorie diet (for example, eating a lot of junk food) can cause memory problems.
Memory is an asset that we must carefully take care of. We must discard from our daily life any factor that can cause us any harm such as eating a bad diet, smoking, drinking excessively, drugs, a sedentary life or the mere fact of not exercising the mind.
What can I do to remember better?
Don’t get too obsessed with mild memory problems. Memory has a limited capacity, and in order to continue forming new memories, you have to get rid of memories that no longer serve. Human beings remember the general as people, events and places but we tend to forget the details. That is why many times, we forget because our brain needs to forget.
We remember 5% of what we hear, 15% of what we see and 90% of what we do. What does this mean? That a good way to remember things is by saving the information with keys to remember in an easier way. What can we do to remember better?
Give ourselves instructions out loud: We can significantly reduce memory lapses if we give ourselves instructions out loud. For example, “I have to take the car keys when I leave home”, “I have to send an email to my partner”
Visualize ourselves doing what we want to remember: Visualizing ourselves mentally doing that action can help reduce those small forgetfulness or memory problems.
Practice physical exercise: Physical exercise helps alleviate small memory problems as it oxygenates the brain and rejuvenates cells.
Eat a diet that is right for the brain: A diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce memory problems. The antioxidants that we find in these foods can help us protect our neurons. Discover the best vitamins for the brain.
Get adequate rest: Adequate rest is essential for optimal memory function.
Plan your activities and make lists: Some people find that they remember things better if they make lists of all the pending activities.
Other recommendations: If you want to learn to remember better and reduce your memory problems, discover in this article 10 Activities to improve your memory.
You just need patience, motivation, effort and constant exercise. Once you see how your memory problems disappear, your mood will increase and therefore, you will feel better and at the same time, you will have fewer tendencies to forget things.
â€œWe are what we remember and we remember what we are.”
10 Activities to Improve your Memory
Memory not only helps you to be smarter and sharper, but it is also useful to improve your work performance and your social relationships. This skill is often taken for granted and many people don’t bother to train it. Don’t make this mistake and practice the following activities to improve your memory.
1. Improve your attention:
Memory is closely related to attention. We cannot remember something that we have not paid attention to. Therefore, by improving our attention span, we will improve our memory.
Focus on everything you do. If you are talking to a friend, give him your undivided attention. He even paraphrases what he says from time to time. In this way, you will better remember what you are talking about and also show understanding. Mindfulness meditation has been proven to improve our attention as well. With ten minutes of meditation a day you can get to modify the structure of your neural connections and get your mind to focus better on the things around you, improving your memory, attention span, focus and ability to make decisions.
2. Use memory techniques or mnemonic rules:
Different studies defend that “self-imagination” is very useful to promote learning and memory.
Repeat the information, group it, relate it to things you already know and use mnemonic rules. Use rhymes or songs to learn information (such as multiplication tables), use acronyms or acrostics.
3. Practice brain teasers to improve your memory:
The different groups of people, trained their brains with brain stimulation programs, improved their performance in memory tasks and other 20+ cognitive skills. This program of computer science games allows us to strengthen brain functions, increase mental vitality and promote neuronal regeneration and reconnection.
You might also be interested in What is Self-Discovery: Begin Your Journey of Self Discovery?
4. Actively try to remember things:
Memory is reinforced by remembering facts, events, and experiences. By remembering things from your day to day such as what you have eaten, names of characters from books you have read: you exercise four parts of your brain: memory, working memory, reasoning and analysis.
Thinking about many things also helps you gain more insight from past experiences and have a more mature and rational perspective on the past. These skills can also be applied to prevention, being alert and observing more closely what is happening around you.
Every day remember what you did the day before, and try to recall where you went and what you did on the past vacation.
You can also try doing a little exercise every day. Grab a pencil and paper and leave the room you are in. When you are outside, write down all the objects you remember in the room, you will see that it is not as easy as you thought. Don’t cheat and avoid looking at the room while pointing the objects. After writing down everything you remember, go back to the room and look at all the things you have left behind. If you do this exercise every day you will see how you improve, you can also do it with the clothes that the people you have seen during the day wore, with the features of those people, etc.
5. Good sleep improves memory:
During sleep, we consolidate what we have learned. Proper sleep hygiene allows us to have memory in optimal condition. According to a study, lack of sleep negatively affects our memory.
Try to maintain good sleep habits. Sleeping 7-8 hours a day is best for optimal performance. Rest in a dark place, quiet (you can use earplugs if you can’t avoid the noise). Turn off all electronic devices and avoid using them before sleeping (the light from their screens can affect our sleep). Don’t drink coffee or caffeinated drinks in the afternoon. Try to make the last coffee after eating, otherwise, you may have trouble falling asleep. The routine is important, try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Moreover, go to bed early and get up early in the morning the next day.
6. Get physical exercise to improve your memory:
Increasingly, the benefits for the brain are associated with physical activity. According to Kirk I. Ericson of the University of Pittsburgh in collaboration with a group of researchers from different North American universities, aerobic physical exercise increases the size of the anterior hippocampus and this leads to improvements in spatial memory. He concludes that it is a good way to reverse the loss of volume associated with age in this brain structure essential for memory.
Physical activity oxygenates the brain and reduces the risk of diseases that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It also lowers stress hormones. Exercise also plays an important role in neuroplasticity, promoting the creation of new neural connections.
Any type of aerobic exercise that you like will help you improve your memory. The important thing is that you enjoy it to maintain the habit. Is it difficult for you to start exercising? Here’re the Benefits of Physical Exercises.
7. Eat healthily:
A healthy diet is essential to keep our bodies in perfect condition. For our brain to function properly it is important not to have any nutritional deficit. And it is that what we eat affects our brain.
Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and legumes. Whole grains, bread, and pasta. Limit highly processed foods, sugar, and salt. Chocolate is associated with an improvement in memory. Remember that you should take it as pure as possible (85% cocoa).
8. Keep your mind active:
Memory is like a muscle, if you train it, it gets stronger if it doesn’t atrophy. Over time, when we have finished our academic training we become comfortable. We already know how to solve most problems, with relatively little effort. And every time we use our mindless and give it less stimulation than it deserves.
Any activity that poses a challenge will be effective in keeping our memory active. Runaway from activities you’re already good at. Learn and develop new skills. Learn to play an instrument, or to play a difficult song. Think of anything you have always wanted to learn, speak a language, play chess.
9. Leave home and meet your friends:
Several studies have shown that being in contact with your friends, and having a wide social life is associated with better memory.
Spend time with your loved ones. Enjoy leisure time with friends. Maintain a good support network and stay away from toxic people who make you feel bad. Socialize more, volunteer or join groups.
10. Get rid of stress:
Stress is one of the brain’s greatest enemies. Over time, chronic stress destroys neurons and damages the brain’s memory centers.
Practice relaxation and meditation techniques. They have been shown to be very effective in reducing stress and anxiety. Set realistic expectations (and learn to say no). Take breaks during the day, express your feelings instead of hiding or repressing them. Balance work time and leisure time. Focus on one task at a time, as multitasking can increase our stress.
Now you have various tricks and strategies to improve your memory and observation skills, starting them is up to you. Keep your brain young and fit is now in your hand! Let’s know:
Do you think you may have a hard time remembering things?
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