Recently I was listening to The James Altucher Show (podcast) and he was interviewing memory expert Jim Kwik from superheroyou.com and Jim was sharing with us ideas on how to improve your memory.
It turns out that about 1/3 of your memory capabilities might be genetic, but the rest can be honed and developed. There are many techniques that will help your do this, but in this post I’m going to share with you 10 “brain hygiene” ways to improve your memory – so no techniques.
These were Jim’s 10 and I fully subscribe to them so here goes:
1 – Eliminate Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)
This comes from Dr Daniel Amen, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. He’s a psychiatrist who’s studies thousands upon thousands of brains using SPECT imagery (SPECT = Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) which looks at the health of your brain. An automatic negative thought, is just that. We all have them, but we need to watch out for them. It’s easy to let them take over so first step is to be aware when they creep in and ask if they are valid? What are they there to teach you? Maybe it’s saying you’re going to do lousy at that work presentation – but perhaps a different spin on it would be to decide you’re going to prepare more, or just that all you can do, is all you can do and that’s good enough. The key is to observe them and don’t get overrun by them.
2 – Sleep
This should be obvious enough, but when you don’t sleep enough, or well it affects your mental (as well as physical) state. You perform less well, with great errors and take longer to perform the same tasks – check out this video on that (https://youtu.be/jkeZzWV34a0) So many people have have problems with their sleep, so here are a few free videos I made on the subject (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhy5FLkmqUvVz66BHYtNxb6–Wx7lvAuS) and if you want to know more, I’ll be releasing a Sleep course designed to get you falling asleep faster and feel more rested soon. Be sure to sign up at http://thethoughtgym.com for more information on that when it becomes available.
3 – New Experiences and Learning
The brain craves things that are unique and new. We stagnate, rot and die (effectively) if we don’t seek out new stimuli. The brain can constantly evolve (neuroplasticity) and can, throughout your life, grow new brain cells (a process known as neurogenesis), so help it out in doing that by challenging your usual pattern of thinking with new experiences and learnings.
4 – Food and Nutrition
We literally become what we consume. The cells of our bodies are constantly changing and the raw material for creating new cells comes from what we eat. On a purely simplistic level it’s this. EAT REAL FOOD. Cook from scratch, eat plenty of veg (I say at least 10 portions a day – preferably organic. I tend to have more like 20-25 portions albeit about 15 portions are via a veg juice and veg smoothie for breakfast, and then about 5 portions at lunch and then another 5 at dinner), get healthy fats into you (nuts, seeds – don’t go overboard, a handful is fine, avocado, coconut fat), omega-3 oil (can be found in fish, krill and also supplementation – but get high quality supplementation which hasn’t been heat treated or blended in with bulking agents, fillers or other things). Essentially, stay away from processed foods whenever possible, eliminate junk food, get plenty of veg in, water and avoid foods with celebrity endorsements, marketing campaigns or built from “shelf life” rather than “self-life”.
5 – Supplementation
Supplementation should be just that. To supplement not substitute a bad diet. Go for number 4 (food) first. But, there are some important brain enhancing supplementations that you should look out for. That is the omega-3 oils (and if you don’t eat fish, and are vegan, then your main source of omega-3 will most likely be ALA (a type of omega-3) from nuts/seeds, however, I suggest getting a plant-based EPA and DHA omega-3 which might be more beneficial for you. The body does convert ALA to EPA and DHA, however not really in the quantities needed in all people, so best to supplement with them). Also, look at your B-vitamins which are really useful for brain health.
As ever, eat well, but omega-3 and b-vitamins for brain health won’t hurt!
Good on so many levels, exercise doesn’t have to be excessive. Just make sure you do it consistently. And how to know whether you will do it consistently or not? How does it stack up to the criteria listed here: http://harikalymnios.com/what-kind-of-workout-is-the-best.
Oh, and remember what we talked about before with neurogenesis? Well, exercise helps with that too!
7 – Positive Peer Group
If you are around people that don’t enliven you and depress you, guess what? It won’t be good for you or your brain. Get around people that are positive and challenge (but support you) and push you to go further than ever.
8 – Clean Environment
If you have a messy environment, it’s probably reflecting a messy environment elsewhere too (i.e. in your head!). You want a clear environment to have a clear head and it will enable you to focus on what’s needed. I know some people will dispute this and that’s fine (we need variety of opinions in life), but just try it out for a week. How does it feel to you?
9 – Brain Protection
Needless to say really but sports like rugby, American football, boxing and anything which involves contact with your head, are not going to be great for it. Get protection, or better still – don’t do them. Find your kicks some other way. Once you start doing significant damage via impact like that, it’s certainly a challenge to keep the brain optimal!
10 – Stress Management
I don’t need to sell you on this one. Stress affects so much on our health. Just think back to the last time you were stressed. How was your performance in remembering what you needed. With all the stress hormones being produced by the body, how do you think that affects the body? Not well, I can tell you. Learn to manage your stress via yoga, meditation, qigong, tao chi, Heartmath or even just some deep breathing (which really does help, as it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system – rest & digest part as opposed to the fight or flight / sympathetic nervous system). You could even go for a walk in nature as that has been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol (known as Forest Bathing)
So there you have it. It’s not my list, but it’s a good list and I like it and concur. You want to optimise your memory, your brain power and your overall health, then follow the 10 pieces of advice above.
What do you think? Have you got any additions to this list? Comment below.