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Sharpen Your Brain

With A Few Changes to Your Lifestyle

Do you often misplace your car keys or forget your grocery list? Maybe you struggle to recall the name of your son{s teacher or the new co-worker. It's normal to forget things occasionally, but it's important to take memory loss seriously.

The brain's remarkable capability to restructure itself remains applicable to learning and memory. You can utilize neuroplasticity's innate potential to enhance your cognitive abilities, improve your memory and learn new information regardless of your age.

While it's not possible to guarantee the prevention of memory loss or dementia, there are some activities that may help to improve your memory. Here are simple ways to sharpen your memory. Remember to seek help if you experience ongoing memory loss.

Improving your memory and mental performance relies on maintaining a healthy and active brain. Whether you are a student preparing for final exams, a professional seeking to stay mentally sharp, or an older adult looking to enhance brain function as you age, there are many strategies you can implement.

Despite the common saying that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," scientists have found that the human brain has remarkable neuroplasticity - it can adapt and change even in later years. By engaging in activities that stimulate the brain, such as forming new neural pathways and altering existing connections, you can promote neuroplasticity and improve cognitive abilities.

Cognitive neurologists suggest using compensatory strategies to improve attention, memory, organization, and productivity.

Cognitive neurologists suggest using compensatory strategies to improve attention, memory, organization, and productivity.

To Improve Attention

  • Improve focus by increasing awareness, monitoring attention, and using strategies like asking for repetition or taking breaks. Pay attention to your attention.

  • It's important to keep your work area clear of clutter and distractions that can make you feel overwhelmed or unfocused. Having a tidy and organized workspace can help you stay focused on your tasks and increase your productivity. Consider removing any unnecessary items from your desk or work area and keeping only the essentials. This can help create a calm and streamlined work environment that is conducive to concentration and focus. Remember, a clutter-free workspace is a key component of a productive workday. De-Clutter.

  • Limit distractions and find a quiet space to work. Turn off your phone ringer and any background noise. A distraction-free environment is key to productivity and achieving your goals. Unplug.

  • It's been said that focusing on one task at a time can lead to better efficiency. Try finishing one task before moving on to the next one. Read Is Multitasking the Modern Way to Get More Done in Less Time? Let's See!. Just one.

  • If you need help planning and executing more complex activities, don't hesitate to reach out to your support system. They can provide valuable assistance. Get Help.

  • To make the most of your cognitive abilities, consider doing reading and other mentally challenging activities during your peak times of the day. For example, if you find that you're most alert in the morning, try to schedule your reading sessions for that time. Fresh Start.

  • Remember to take frequent breaks when reading or studying. Planning breaks at specific intervals, such as every 30 or 40 minutes, can help you maintain your focus and improve your comprehension. Take Breaks.

To Improve Memory

  • Writing down information in a memory book is a great way to improve your memory. Write it Down.

  • If you get overwhelmed with too much information, try breaking it down into smaller chunks or simpler steps and repeat them several times. Simplify.

  • Developing mental imagery and associations has been shown to improve memory, so try to associate new information with something you already know. See It.

  • You can also use cues, reminders, and prompts from family members to help accomplish various goals. Be Alarmed.

  • Planning and preparation are also important in demanding situations. Be Proactive.

  • Summarizing and reviewing information can help you remember important details. Review It.

  • If you find yourself struggling to recall a specific word while engaging in a conversation, it can be helpful to kindly ask your conversational partner to provide the word and repeat it aloud. Alternatively, you could try generating a synonym for the word instead of becoming frustrated. These simple techniques can go a long way in improving your ability to effectively communicate with others. Repeat It.

To Improve Organization

it's important to avoid taking on too many work assignments at once or attempting to solve complex problems all at once.
  • One helpful tip for staying organized is to use an electronic PDA, smart phone, or day planner. Creating a new list each day and referring back to it as you make progress can be a great way to stay on track. Organization Techniques.

  • Additionally, it's important to avoid taking on too many work assignments at once or attempting to solve complex problems all at once. Doing so may lead to feelings of overwhelm and decreased work performance, which can also increase the risk for depression. One Thing.

  • Finally, breaking large projects down into smaller, more manageable steps can be a great way to reduce anxiety and avoid procrastination. Simply write down the steps required to complete a task and work on one task at a time until the project is finished. Step By Step.

To Improve Productivity and Efficiency

  • One strategy to increase productivity is to prioritize the most difficult or disliked tasks and complete them first. This can help reduce anxiety and increase motivation for completing other tasks. Others may prefer to start with a small task to gain a sense of accomplishment before moving on to larger tasks. Setting flexible deadlines and goals can also help get the ball rolling and keep you on track. Remember to take breaks and avoid overworking yourself to prevent burnout. Motivate.

  • When faced with cognitive issues or brain injury, it can be helpful to allow extra time to complete tasks. This can help reduce stress and avoid feeling pressured to finish quickly. For instance, if a task usually takes an hour to complete, it may be wise to allow for an hour and a half or two hours to provide buffer time for breaks or unexpected obstacles that may arise. It's always better to have extra time available than to feel overwhelmed and unable to complete the task at hand. Margin.

  • It's important to take care of yourself when faced with demanding tasks. Instead of relying on caffeine or energy drinks, it's recommended to get enough sleep each night and take frequent breaks to maintain your energy. Relaxation exercises can also be helpful. Remember, it's better to take care of yourself and have sustainable energy than to rely on quick fixes that can lead to burnout. Energize.

  • Ask for help! Be empowered to delegate certain activities that are too demanding. Connect.

Stress Management Tools

Doctor Marla Bruns a Cognitive Neurologist in Rochester, New York with over 14 years of experience in the medical field, is recommending healthy lifestyle changes to her patients. Incorporating healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and stress management tools can make a significant difference in our overall well-being. Taking care of ourselves should always be a top priority, and it's good to see medical professionals emphasizing the importance of self-care. De-Stress. Some of these include:

  • Counseling- for support, symptom relief, insight, growth

  • Principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy- thought stopping, challenging automatic negative thinking, replacing with neutrality or considering alternative explanations

  • Talking to friends/family you trust

  • Support groups

  • Medications- antidepressant, anti-anxiety

  • Exercise- cardiovascular and activities such as yoga are helpful

  • Healthy diet with adequate nutrition

  • Prioritizing self-care

  • Relaxation techniques (e.g., progressive muscle relaxation)

  • Breathing/Mindfulness/Prayer/meditation

  • Reading self-help books and resources

  • Simplify!

  • Leisure activities- listening to music, watching movies, etc.

  • Helping others- volunteering provides a sense of purpose, distraction from our own problems, and often helps us to put things in perspective.

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