Being forgetful from time to time is something that we are all guilty of.
It is important to identify the things that impair our memory so that we can work towards improving cognitive function. In some cases, memory loss is caused by a medical condition, but everyday forgetfulness is common and can be easily improved with a few lifestyle changes.
Some common causes of forgetfulness
A poor diet can inhibit your ability to stay focused. If you don’t fuel your body with the necessary energy needed to operate, this will result in a decrease in memory function. A lack of certain nutrients, such a B12, may result in confusion and forgetfulness. A lack of folic acid, a type of B-vitamin, can impact concentration and memory.
Drugs and alcohol.
Some studies show that a glass of red wine can have a positive impact on long term health. That being said, we must still greatly consider moderation. Excessive binge drinking and drug use can seriously impair short and long term memory function. Some prescription drugs may cause side effects of forgetfulness. In this case, it is important to speak with your physician to discover alternatives that may better suit your body.
Stress and sleep deprivation.
Long term anxiety and stress can make you feel more forgetful. Stress can affect our ability to be present and therefore affects our ability to store and recall memories. Sleep deprivation generally comes along with extended periods of stress. If you are unable to let go of a heavy day, your mind will struggle finding ease in the evening, resulting in difficulty falling asleep.
Ways to be less forgetful
Get enough sleep.
Regular REM sleep has been proven to increase brain function and induce regularity in your life. If we are sleep deprived, we lack the ability to focus attentively and therefore, can’t effectively learn and absorb new information.
Minimize distractions and live in the moment.
We are constantly living in a world of two realities, real life and that of which is on our phones. Although we find ways to adapt and grow with technology, it is challenging to find balance. If time allows, set down your phone and engage in the activity around you.
Write things down.
If we seldom remember something, it will likely fade and feel very distant.
Our brain is made up of a complex map of neural connections, and the building block of all memories. The more we think about a memory, the stronger it gets. Connections between neurons can be so powerful that they have the ability to strengthen memories that may not even be true. If we have a memory from childhood, that we’ve revisited throughout our lives, even if it is inaccurate we will believe what we remember. The same goes for new memories, if we actively condition ourselves to recall a memory, our likelihood of remembering will increase. I’ve found that the best way to exercise this function is to write, rewrite and write again.
Play with association.
Stimulants in our environment can trigger emotions, some of which, we associate with particular memories.
Sometimes you hear an old song and it immediately makes you smile ear to ear. That feeling of happiness is associated with a memory linked to that song. Whether we are aware of it or not, our brains are constantly making associations. A trick on recalling memories is to try and think of something that could trigger an emotional response. This can also help when forming new memories. Let’s consider meeting someone and remembering their name, so simple, yet most of us find it to be challenging. If you can associate that person and their name to something relevant, meaning something you have some feeling towards, you are way more likely to remember it.
Feed your brain
Learn to love turmeric.
Turmeric is said to not only decrease inflammation in the brain, but can help improve memory function. The main component found in turmeric is curcumin, an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant super chemical. A relatable correlation and real life example of the effectiveness of curcurmin on brain functionality is the presence, or lack thereof, Alzheimer’s in India. We can take some notes from this culture whose diet is centered around turmeric.
Yes this seems like a fantasy, but studies show that there are positive health benefits to consuming cacao. Flavanols consumed when we eat chocolate, are shown to penetrate the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for storing long term memories. They increase blood flow, promote the formation and function of new neurons, enhance their connection and protect them potential damage.
Magnesium for cognitive function.
Magnesium restores brain plasticity and improves cognitive function. It strengthens the connection between neurons in the hippocampus and prepares the brain to store memories for a long time. Magnesium also helps build up the part of the nerve that triggers a response. Thus, making connections stronger in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain associated with short term memories. Many foods that we eat contain magnesium, among many are bananas, nuts, legumes and leafy greens. You can also introduce magnesium into your diet through supplements or by applying it topically. Magnesium oil can be used in creams and lotions, or applied directly on the skin. This is also an amazing way to soothe sore muscles.