Here we are on the cusp of another year. As we’ve moved through the last few years and especially this year you may have found it much easier to make important decisions or you may have found it much more challenging. For the sake of transparency, this year I found myself in the latter group. It’s time for me to get off of my butt and make some positive changes in 2023.
Many people have found that due to the pandemic their lives have changed drastically, sometimes for the better and sometimes not so. In this case my life actually changed for the better in many ways.
One of the topics I want to start sharing with you is about your brain and, yes their actually is a difference between the brain and the mind.
The two terms are often used interchangeably. The brain is considered to be a physical thing, the mind is considered to be mental. The brain is composed of nerve cells and can be touched, whereas the mind cannot be touched. If you were having brain surgery for example, your mind might lead you to feelings however it’s the actual brain that will be worked on.
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a cognitive neuroscientist and communication pathologist who has extensively studied the relationship between mind and brain, and has found that the mind works through the brain but remains its own entity. If you would like to know more about this Dr. Leaf has written very interesting books on this topic, one of which is “Switch on your Brain” – The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking and Health which you can find here.
Who wouldn’t want to learn faster and boost their memory at the same time? Imagine everything you could accomplish simply by strengthening your memory muscle. Remembering the names and faces of others, learning a skill quicker, and potentially avoiding dementia and Alzheimer’s all sound great, right?
To boost your memory and learn faster, your brain needs to be challenged regularly just like you exercise your body when you work out.
Simple changes to your daily routines can help you strengthen your brains which in turn can help you learn faster and boost your memory. There are many ways to sharpen your brain and increase your memory so this week I’m going to share ten ways in which you can do without having to invest a lot of time or effort. Next week I will share ten more ways.
1) Physical Exercise – Introduce regular or new physical exercises or start a walking regimen. Daily exercise can assist you in keeping your memory and thoughts sharp, as well as enables you to focus better throughout the day. These benefits are due to the increased blood flow to your brain when you exercise. This infusion of oxygen rich blood helps reverse some of the natural brain reduction that occurs as you age. If you usually walk alone, consider the pros and cons of walking with a friend or a group of friends who walks regularly. If you use a treadmill in the gym try listening to music or an audiobook. If you walk outdoors often, focus on your senses in new ways. You want to want to put your brain to work so you are more aware and you focus on your movements. Adding these elements increases your ability to learn things much faster while also boosting your memory.
2) Change Your Routine – Changing your routine encourages your brain to make new connections, which helps send your thoughts into the creative area of your brain. Changes in your routine don’t have to be huge or brand new. In fact, you can explore new ways to change what you’re already doing. For example, you might want to use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth or your hair and perhaps wake up ten minutes earlier. You can use that time to focus on the morning activities, instead of rushing around at the last-minute to prepare for your day. If I’m going out in the morning, I always decide the night before what I’m going to wear so that I don’t have to think about it in the morning.
3) Take a Different Route – Do you find yourself driving to your workplace or even the grocery store without giving much thought to how you arrived at your destination? If so, that’s because your brain is on autopilot and is following your usual routine for that route. One creative and fun idea you may want to consider will be to use a different route occasionally. You may also want to venture out of your comfort zone and take an afternoon drive to a new place. Whether you choose to take a different route to and from work, the grocery, go for an adventurous ride or you might want to drive with your windows down so you can listen to the world around you and take in the sights, scents, textures and sounds.
4) Change Hands – You don’t give much thought to what your dominant hand is doing throughout the day. If you want to learn faster and reprogram your brain, take a moment to think about this topic. In your non-dominant hand, hold your cell phone, brush your teeth, hold a pen to write a note, or even scroll your social media page. Take time to switch the task from your dominant hand to your non-dominant hand. It might feel awkward at first. However, after some practice, you may notice that it no longer feels strange to your brain. Consider scheduling some time to do something fun like use a crayon to color with a non-dominant hand or purposely hold your cell phone in your non-dominate hand. No matter what activity you choose make it fun and interesting.
5) Play Observation Games – If you have a smartphone there are dozens of free apps and challenging games available that are specifically made to challenge your brain. If you are looking for less technology as a source to reprogram your brain and learn faster, there are other options available. These include focusing on the facial expressions of those around you, studying the design of a house or even sitting down to put together a jigsaw puzzle. The options will force you to observe your surroundings to improve your focus and memory.
6) Share News or Create Stories – You may recall hearing relatives retell their childhood stories or you may walk into a cafe and hear a table of coffee drinkers sharing their latest adventures. Without realizing it, they are actively boosting their memory while reprograming their brains. Have you considered joining a local acting guild or a group that is interested in a hobby you like? You can act out a story you lived or heard. You may also use your imagination and create opportunities that interest you as well as your friends, family and community.
7) Skip Technology – Do you rely on technology to get through your day? So many people use their smartphones to keep notes, set reminders and remember important phone numbers. You are often completely reliant on technology to do your thinking, memorizing and problem-solving daily. This can make your brain lazy. Choose to use technology less throughout your day. Schedule a few hours each day when you get away from all forms of technology. During this time, you want to incorporate more critical thinking and problem-solving, as well as solving word puzzles, playing board and card games. You may also want to read, write and participate in a few hobbies. These types of activities will challenge your brain and skills. Daily, practice memorizing simple facts and information, such as phone numbers, birthdates, locations, and events. If you spend your days battling digital overload and digital distraction, you may have an underlying addiction to technology. If this is the case, you can make conscious choices to schedule a technology-free day or weekend. However, remember to block out time every day to walk away from technology and use that time for a brain and memory-boosting activity. When you mix a brain-boosting activity with physical activity you are prompting your brain to remember the new information or skill.
8) Read More – Technology makes it easy to read a digital book, but when was the last you picked up a paperback or hardback book to read? Reading from a physical book induces your brain to start at the beginning and go to the end without jumping around. This process increases your attention span instead of a process that makes your thoughts and attention jump from one thing to the next without completing the story. As you age, your memory and brain function decline. However, reading may help slow the aging process and keep your mind sharp. It also enables you to better understand other people. This skill helps you with complex social relationships. Reading from a physical book versus an eBook provides your brain with more context, which leads to a deeper understanding and better comprehension.
9) Learn a New Language – Learning a new language helps you with complex tasks like problem-solving, planning and attention. Foreign languages give you an opportunity to develop new skills, expand your social interaction and increase your knowledge. Just like many of the ideas listed throughout this article, learning a new language improves your memory. The more you learn, the more your memory improves. In addition, new languages enable your brain to multi-task better, improves your long-term memory and leads you to focus more on the task at hand.
10) Build Your Vocabulary – Introduce new vocabulary words into your daily speech on a regular basis. This can trigger your brain’s visual areas and create mental pictures, which prompt you to remember the things you want to memorize. You might choose to keep a journal of each new word, along with the date you memorize it. You can take this a step further by creating a funny or silly story using this new word and its meaning. You may also want to record the word or story on your smartphone and replay it while you exercise or drive.
I hope you are enjoying these longer articles and that this one in particular will help you to have a stronger memory. Next week I will write about 10 other ways in which you can make your brain and memory stronger.
I’m Hazel Palache, author, success coach, clinical hypnotherapist, stress management counselor and entrepreneur. If you have any questions I would love to connect with you. Over my 30 years as a Mindset Expert I’ve helped many hundreds of people to change their lives and businesses so they are living a life they love with less stress and more fun. Everything I write about and teach, I’ve been through and come out the other side myself so, although I have lots of training, I speak from vast personal experience.
If you would like a complimentary chat just email me at Hazel@LiveYourAbundantLife.com and you will be contacted to set up a 30 minute session by Zoom or phone. Your choice. There's never going to be a better time than NOW.