Today we were honoured with a guest post from Adrienne McGuire, writer and editor of the DailyPath. Take it away Adrienne:
Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a Memory Improvement Project every Monday. On our Mindful Mondays at DailyPath, we first focused on beginning the process by gaining some mental clarity, creating a blank slate of sorts for the work ahead of us. After we had gained some perspective and cleared our heads of some cobwebs, we added some memory boosting supplements to our daily routine.
I began this process not as an assignment, but because I had true concerns about my own fading memory. I had days where I struggled to remember words and where I put things. I had heard similar complaints from many of my friends as we are now climbing towards 40, and I became determined to learn as much as I could about ways to stave off memory loss.
Throughout the process, I finally came to terms with the fact that one of the main factors affecting my memory was my lack of regular adequate sleep. As a matter of fact, after I did extensive research on the sleep/memory connection, I had an ‘a-ha’ moment during which I realized that without adequate sleep, my brain power will likely continue to degrade slowly over the years. Getting eight hours a night quickly ratcheted to the top of my priority list, and almost immediately I noticed a huge difference in my ability to process thoughts, and my recall was greatly improved.
Now that I’ve been getting adequate sleep for several weeks, taking the recommended memory boosting supplements, and practicing some behavioral modifications to increase my mental clarity and awareness, I’m ready to take the next step in the process. I’ve always known that I have billions of neurons firing in my brain but what I learned through this experience is that I can control some of the connections those neurons are making!
Yesterday, I started building on the progress I have made thus far by downloading some of the most highly recommended memory boosting games. The brain does have a great deal of neuroplasticity, or ability to adapt and change, but we have to actively show it the way. Playing stimulating mind games like Brain Trainer from Lumosity will keep those neurons firing, creating new connections in the memory part of the brain.
When I was researching the best ways to improve my memory, I was surprised to discover that there is a huge connection between memory and socializing. In a study performed by Psychologist Oscar Ybarra at the U-M Institute for Social Research, it was discovered that engaging in 10 minutes of conversation a day improves brain function as well as performing intellectual activities or playing brain games for the same amount of time. Anyone looking to increase brain power may want to seriously consider putting some social interaction time onto the calendar. It can be as simple as talking to your neighbor over the fence about politics or chatting with an intellectual friend. Just make sure that the topics are somewhat substantive.
Remember that re-wiring the brain is not something that will magically happen overnight. As you can tell, I’ve done a lot of prep work to ensure that my experiment will have a higher chance of success. It’s important to prepare your brain first, make sure you’re eating right and sleeping well, and then embark on making some new neuro-choices. Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to something as complex as the brain.
Adrienne McGuire is a writer, website consultant and wellness enthusiast who abandoned the corporate ladder to create a life that worked for her. To read about the conclusion of her Memory Experiment, visit her at DailyPath, where she is now an integral part of the writing team.