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Train your brain

Few events make you feel completely uncomfortable like forgetting something, right? When you lose your wallet or can't remember where you parked, you feel confused and almost disoriented. What was I going to say? Or you know, that guy from that series, uh... anyway, where was I going with this? You get the point. Our brain is a vital part of our body and we probably don't exercise it enough. But there are simple things we can do to sharpen our minds. And the stronger it becomes, the firmer our memory remains.

Here are 10 scientifically proven ways to boost your ability to remember.

You don't have to call it meditation. And you don't even have to do it regularly to reap the full benefits. However, sitting in silence has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain. Seek quiet contemplation, bringing awareness to your breathing. A 2020 study showed that doing it for just eight minutes boosted participants' short-term memory (compared to those who listened to an audiobook or chose to do nothing).

Think of games like crossword puzzles, puzzles, and Wordle as tools to strengthen your memory muscle. Research has shown that four months of regular sudoku practice can improve working memory. Similar stimulating activities like reading or even playing video games can reduce the risk of cognitive decline as you age.

If you want to focus solely on your brain, there are gamified apps like CogniFit, Lumosity, and Elevate that are specially designed to train your brain on certain mental skills. Research has got somewhat mixed results on whether these apps actually help short-term memory, but several of them have been found to improve working memory, processing speed, and executive function, all of which are used when multitasking, concentration and planning.

Call it brain food. We have all heard of the many benefits of omega-rich superfoods. But it is especially true of memory. Oily fish like salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies and oily fish are good for your brain. Several studies have linked fish consumption to a reduced risk of age-related mental decline.

You don't have to master a second (or third) language to get serious benefits from the practice. Simply learning a few new words and phrases will improve your ability to retain new information. Not only will it make traveling easier and dating impressive, but studies show it's an excellent way to boost what neurologists call "cognitive reserve," which is the brain's ability to compensate for the loss of its natural functions, especially with advancing age. Have you no ear for foreign languages? You can reap similar benefits simply by expanding your vocabulary.

As anyone who has had a sleepless night knows, sleep deprivation greatly affects how our brains work, so it's not surprising that it affects short-term memory and attention. Make a good amount of healthy sleep a priority. Most adults need seven to nine hours of solid sleep a night on a regular basis.

Did you know that having low vitamin D levels is quite common in men? Especially during the winter when sunlight is not abundant. The essential vitamin has long been thought to strengthen bones and boost our immune systems, but researchers at Tufts University have found that it may impact our brain's cognitive function, too. You might have a blood test to check your levels or simply take supplements to boost your intake. It wouldn't hurt, right?

Of course, an evening of drinking can lead to fuzzy memories the next day. But even when you don't drink that much, alcohol can affect your short-term memory. Studies have shown that regular drinkers score lower on short-term memory tests than those who abstain. To maximize your memory, avoid excess alcohol and keep your cocktails moderate.

When you write by hand, your brain processes it better and memorizes it more accurately. The practice also forces you to focus on a particular idea or thought. Due to the nature of memory and the brain, you are more likely to remember the things you focus on. Not only does it boost memory and comprehension, but it also boosts the processing power of the brain.

You can add short-term memory to the list of things exercise can improve. Researchers have found that 30 minutes of cardio a day for 10 days can improve short-term memory. Regular fitness has also been shown to boost our working memory, along with complex object recognition memory. And varying your workouts is a great way to fortify your mind against future memory problems.