Ever suffered with the so-called “Brain Cramp” Moment, when you struggled to remember the name of the person you had met in the last house-warming party, or perhaps an old acquaintance, or when you had to flex your brain muscles to remember where exactly you had put your grocery list, it happens to all but women are more prone to these memory lapses.
Memories are stored in the part of the brain called Hippocampus. The functioning of Hippocampus is adversely affected by elevated levels of Cortisol in bloodstream. Depression is number one cause of raised Cortisol levels in blood as well as brain. A recent research shows that people who had suffered from Depression, even if it was years ago, had suffered a memory loss of up to 12% to 15%.Such memory blocks may also be triggered by stress, sleep deprivation, Iron-Deficiency Anaemia, overwork and ageing.
Here are some simple steps to prevent them and enhance memory:
Ø Challenge your mental faculties with mental exercises and new experiences on a daily basis. You may try these mental exercises at home-
i. Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth, eating, combing your hair. This simple activity builds new neural connections in your brain.
ii. Rearrange your files, kitchen, work place and wardrobe frequently so that your brain gets ample exercise trying to remember the new alignment.
iii. Count backward beginning at 100.
iv. Count backward beginning at 200, subtracting 5 each time (200,195,190…)
v. Count backward beginning at 150, subtracting 3 each time (150,147,144…)
vi. Word Making is another technique to enhance your brain’s flexibility. For e.g. make as many words as you can with the following words
Ø Cultivate a habit of taking notes whenever you receive critical information, such as during an important office meet, information from doctor, etc. You may pin these on a soft board, or glue them on your refrigerator door. These may come in handy the next time you suffer from clouding of memory.
Ø Set up a “Memory Place”. Find a box, bowl, or any container to hold your keys, glasses, cell phone or any important object you constantly pick up and put down. Set up your memory place near whichever entry you use most often. Cultivate a habit to constantly place these objects in your Memory Place.
Ø Do something Out of the Box- People tend to forget things when in a hurry especially the routine ones, for e.g. your most likely to forget where you had placed your car keys when in a rush, you may even forget whether you had locked the door or turned off the lights before leaving. Do something out of the blue while you are doing these things, such as …stomping your feet or making a strange sound, believe me this will help you remember these usual activities.
Ø Place a pad of sticky notes and a pen near your refrigerator or front door, whenever you remember something you need to take with you, you can make a note of it and stick it on your refrigerator or door to serve as a reminder.
Ø Visualize to remember-it is often difficult to remember names or series of numbers, convert these abstract information into a relevant image ,for e.g..if you want to remember that you have parked your car in the 13th row of B-wing of the parking lot, then visualize a B’day cake with 13 candles on it(courtesy Forbes) or of 13 butterflies.
Ø Cardio Workouts such as walking, jogging, for 30 minutes, 4 times a day increase blood circulation to your brain thereby improving memory. A study Dr Scott of National Academy of Sciences show that 3 months of vigorous aerobic activity seemed to produce new neurons in the Hippocampus and also showed improvement in mental recall.
Ø Inculcate a Habit of learning something New-Take a new hobby class, or learn some new dance moves, learning complex activities which require physical activeness as well as mental focus stimulates your neurons to create new neural connections, sharpening your memory.
Ø Eat colorful fruits and veggies- They are rich in anti-oxidants and hence prevent Dementia (memory loss associated with ageing).
Ø Taking foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish (wild salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel), mustard oil, cuts the risk of Dementia by about 47%.
Ø Vitamin E is especially effective in preventing Dementia, cutting the risk by about 67%, found naturally in nuts, Olive Oil, Avocados.
Ø All Work & No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy- Ensure that you find time for fun and friends even in your busiest routine. Continuous work related stress is also related to increased levels of Cortisol, severely impairing the memory.
Ø Take Ample Rest- Find time to relax, unwind and refresh yourself. Ensure an eight hour sound sleep, because this is when your brain relaxes and reorganizes the horde of information it has gathered during your waking hours.
Ø Deep Breathing with Chanting- Ancient scribes advocated the combination of alternate nostril breathing technique with the chanting of a mantra or “Om”. This technique has healing powers and is proven to produce neurons. Oxygenation of brain cells enhances memory.
T Homoeopathy Helps!Homoeopathic Medicine –Anacardium 200, once a day, if taken regularly improves memory. Besides, Homoeopathic medicines are very efficacious in treating conditions like Brain Fag due to mental overwork and prolonged hours of study in students. Homoeopathy also has specific remedies for dealing with exam fever i.e. anxiety/ panic attacks in students during exams, adversely affecting their performance. (For more info consult your nearest Homoeopath!)
( P.S.—The above mentioned Brain Games are as advocated by Mt Sinai School of Medicine, in their Memory Enhancement Programme.)