Life Hacks: Improving Attention Span and Memory

Category:  News
Thursday, March 24th, 2016 at 7:16 AM

As we live our daily lives, our brains tend to get lazy. This can stem from sleep deprivation, stress or being overworked. There are several things you can do to keep your mind in better shape. Exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, laughing, being social and relaxation are among the best things you can do for your mind and body.

These are all everyday things that you can do to keep your brain healthy. Help Guide says that aerobic exercise can help keep your brain sharp. When you exercise, you get a larger flow of oxygen to the brain. Exercise will also reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It can also combat factors that lead to memory loss. On top of all of those benefits, exercise boosts neuroplasticity and neuronal connections.

Exercises such as walking, running, swimming and rock-climbing can help reduce traumatic stress and can get your mind and emotions in balance.

Most adults over 18 need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Like most college students, this may be a hard thing to come by regularly, but research shows that sleep deprivation is detrimental to your health and mood. Sleep directly influences learning and memory function, problem solving abilities, creativity and critical thinking skills.

Getting and keeping your circadian rhythm on track is important for your health. Some ways to do this are getting on a regular sleeping schedule, avoiding all screens before sleeping, and cutting back on caffeine. The blue light emitted from TVs and phones trigger your brain to think it’s daytime again, causing people to have trouble falling asleep or entering REM once asleep.

Making friends and laughing are also two very easy and important ways to improve cognitive function. Research shows that isolation and loneliness can cause adverse affects to health, even after only a few days. Laughter is often times referred to as the best medicine. When you laugh, it triggers multiple regions across your brain to light up, causing many neurotransmitters to fire, releasing chemicals such as dopamine.

The Huffington Post reported on ways to boost cognitive fitness and longevity. It said that watching TV and reading actively are things you can do to keep your mind sharp. Brain-training games like crosswords, board games, card games and mind puzzles are a great activity to boost function.

Actively reading and listening encourage our brains to imagine and be creative. Taking up a new hobby such as a new language, reading, gardening, concerts, visiting museums or zoos, or crafts, whatever you enjoy, can keep you healthy by creating new neural connections.

Diets have a direct correlation to brain function as well. Foods high in protein and low in calories and fat are especially good for memory and brainpower. Omega 3s are brain food; they come from certain fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring. Other sources of omega 3s that are not seafood include walnuts, flaxseed, winter squash, kidney and pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds and soybeans. Vegetables are also great for the brain and the body.

Studies have shown that drinking a glass of wine a day can improve memory and cognition. Specifically red wine seems to be the best for the brain; also grape juice, cranberry juice, fresh grapes, berries and peanuts can serve a similar purpose.

Finally reducing stress, meditation and being actively creative can help offset cognitive decline. Meditation can reduce stress in mind and body. Stress is particularly detrimental to our brains and can cause cell loss if left unchecked.

All of these things are simple, everyday things we can do to keep our brains functioning for school and work. They can combat the inevitable fog our brains develop when not being exercised fully. Even a little boost of exercise and healthy food can help a tremendous amount when it comes to memory, mood, concentration and retention.

Anna Ashcraft is the Managing Editor of Arts for The Spectator.

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