Tips for Improving Your Memory

Written by Stephanie James

You might start forgetting things as you grow older. It can be very frustrating because it reduces your level of productivity during the day. Fortunately, it is possible to change your situation.

With the brain’s neural plasticity and synaptic pruning, you may strengthen the necessary neural connections. This means that you can improve your cognitive skills and memory even as you age.

Below are natural and simple ways that you can use to do it.

Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Meditation comes with extensive benefits that include enhancing one’s memory. Whenever you meditate, your brain’s cerebral cortex thickens because blood flow to the region increases. Consequently, it improves your learning and concentration abilities; enabling you to remember important things more often.

For starters, here are some meditation tips that can help you get better at it:

  • Create time to meditate
  • Find a calm meditation space
  • Close your eyes and detach from your thoughts
  • Make it a routine

Make Time for Exercise

Physical activities are essential not only for maintaining a healthy body weight but also for your mental health. Exercising increases the amount of oxygen in your brain and strengthens the effects of useful brain chemicals like acetylcholine. It also facilitates neuroplasticity. Therefore, heading to the gym more often or jogging in the morning can help to improve your memory.

The following are some efficient ways to make sure that you don’t skip your physical exercise:

  • Always drink water to stay hydrated
  • Exercise whenever you feel ready
  • Look for an exercising partner or trainer
  • Set your fitness goals

Cut Back on Alcohol

Minimizing the amount of alcohol that you drink can improve your memory. Research shows that drinking a lot of it comes with neurotoxic effects on your brain. It might even destroy the hippocampus; the brain’s part that is involved in learning and creating new memories. Therefore, refrain from excessive alcohol consumption to maintain a healthy brain and prevent forgetfulness.

Are you looking for ways to avoid going to your favorite bar every day? Here are some basics:

  • Keep yourself busy whenever the urge to drink kicks in
  • Stop keeping alcohol in your room/house
  • Avoid friends who encourage you to drink
  • Set a limit on the amount of alcohol you consume weekly

Get on a Regular Sleep Schedule

Getting adequate sleep is also a practical tip for improving your memory. It allows for memory consolidation. Hence, your short-term memories become stronger, and you can remember them for long. People who don’t sleep well have poor memories. To avoid being one of them, you can:

  • Try to have consistent sleeping and waking times
  • Avoid consuming a lot of caffeine especially later in the day
  • Stop having long daytime naps
  • Refrain from eating late at night
  • Shower before you sleep

Eat More Fruit; Berries are Highly Recommended

According to a study done by Harvard researchers, eating blueberries and strawberries prevents memory loss that comes with aging. A blueberry is rich in flavonoids which strengthen your brain pathways. They have even been recommended for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and those who want to lower their risk of dementia.

Be Mindful of the Level of Sugar Intake

Poor memory has been associated with taking a lot of sugary foods. Eating a lot of sugar is known to worsen conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This is because it reduces your brain volume; lowering your capability to store short-term memories. To boost your memory, avoid taking foods and drinks with a great deal of sugar.

Regardless of your age, it’s always a good idea to get ahead of memory loss and work on ways to improve it! Don’t remember what you had for breakfast yesterday? The tips that we have provided above can help your memory improve and ultimately improve multiple areas of your life. 

What’s Your Mindset About Retirement?

By Marianne Oehser

Your mindset affects every part of your life. That is especially true about retirement. Your attitudes and beliefs about this time of your life will determine whether you see endless possibilities or whether you buy into some of the negative myths. It will affect your health and your happiness.

Most people choose one of two mindsets about retirement: The Euphoric Mindset or the Gloom-and-Doom Mindset

The Euphoric Mindset

As we approach retirement, most of us are ready to say goodbye to the hectic pace and all the stress that goes with most careers. We are ready to downshift a bit and are excited about enjoying our much earned ‘vacation.’

The retirement picture we create in our minds is often the Hollywood version with lots of excitement but not much clarity. It’s filled with images of things we want to do — travel, golf, tennis, boating, or anything else we have dreamed of doing. And, probably the new toys you want, like a boat. For many of us, that is just how retirement starts and it feels pretty euphoric. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Just like any outstanding vacation, it is not a permanent state. It is simply not realistic to expect the euphoria and the newness to last forever – but somehow, we do it anyway. We think that being on vacation for 20 years will continue to have the same excitement that it had in the beginning. But, it doesn’t – it fades.

The problem with a Euphoric Mindset is that it leads to disappointment. The day will come when all the play is not as much fun as it was in the beginning.

This can create a new kind of stress. Retirement no longer fits your Hollywood image and you don’t know what to do about it. You are no longer sure what you want your days and weeks to be like. You probably feel like you are a bit adrift.

That is when it’s time to get serious about building your Happiness Portfolio®. That means designing your new life so that it is balanced and diversified just like your financial portfolio. Research shows that the people who are the happiest in retirement are those who invest time and energy in all aspects of their life — having fulfilling relationships, enjoying social connections, making a contribution in some way, maintaining your health, enjoying leisure activities, growing as a human being in some way, and incorporating spirituality – whatever that means to you.

If you are looking at retirement with a Euphoric Mindset, by all means keep the mindset that this will be the best time of your life but be realistic about the fact that the honeymoon will end and figure out what you want your life to be like when it does.

The Gloom-and-Doom Mindset

The opposite of the euphoric mindset is the gloom-and-doom mindset. The gloom-and-doom mindset looks at retirement as the end of the line. The story it tells you is that all the good things in your life are over and there is nothing more to look forward to. It tells you that you are being put out to pasture because you are useless. It says that everything is downhill from here and focuses on your own mortality.

One of the big problems with such a negative outlook on this act of your life is that it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you are focused on all of the things that are potentially bad about this new phase, you are not likely to see the endless possibilities for how great your life can be now. This kind of thinking can negatively impact your health and lots of research studies have shown that it probably will. It will definitely turn you into a grumpy person and can lead to serious depression.

Of course, there are some legitimate things that are not so wonderful about this phase of your life. You probably don’t have the boundless energy of your youth. You might fear that you will become ‘irrelevant’ and may not keep up with all of the information and technology changes that will certainly evolve. A whole segment of your social life will disappear including the people you interacted with as part of your career. These things are real but you don’t have to let them take you down a rabbit hole you can’t get out of.

Shifting your mindset to a more positive perspective will allow you to look at things differently. Choosing a story that includes the possibility that there are more positive things ahead will shift your mindset and allow you to see ways to deal with the downsides of life after your career.

Staying stuck in either the euphoric or the gloom-and-doom way of looking at retirement will not serve you very well in the long run.

A Third Option

Carl Jung, Ph.D. was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of Analytical Psychology who had a profound impact on how we see a wide range of areas today. Dr. Jung offers us another way of looking at this stage of life. He talks about the “afternoon of life.” The morning of our life is focused on achieving things – getting an education, building a career, raising a family, acquiring things, becoming someone. Dr. Jung says the “afternoon of life” is not just a “pitiful appendage to life’s morning” and rather than seeing our afternoon as a process of reduction, he says it is a process of expansion.“The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different.”                              

This way of looking at the new chapter of your life suggests that there is much to be savored about it. The afternoon just has a different rhythm than the morning. It may be a time for slowing down a bit but it can still be filled with enthusiasm and activity. It is an opportunity to focus on different things than you did in the morning of your life. It is an opportunity to see new and different possibilities for how you invest your time and energy. It is a time to discover the meaning and purpose of your own afternoon.

It’s time to bask in your afternoon sun.

Your 3 Biggest Retirement Challenges

Retirement should be an amazing time. Prepare to explore new interests, savor quiet moments, experience for the first time the true meaning of stress free, take full advantage of mid-week specials and in general live life in a way that best suits you. What is it like to control how you spend your time, to do what you want when you want? Won’t it be glorious to find out!

We all deserve to live the dream. So how do we?

After a decade of comments from readers, diverse feedback from fellow retirees and lessons learned navigating my own retirement I believe the key to a successful migration from work to a happy retirement is preparation. Don’t hope to just flip a switch and smoothly move to retired life. It takes effort, planning, adaptability, curiosity, perseverance and patience.

Retirement is a transition

Over the years I have heard from many negotiating the passage from fulltime work to fulltime retirement. A common theme is challenges abound. Big changes in lifestyle take time to negotiate. And the move into retirement is a big change.

Who will you be once you exit your career? Many define their essence – who they are – based upon their work role. Leaving that behind can prove confusing and dismaying. The job always sort of told you what you should be doing. Once retired your time is truly your own – do you know what you will do?

When it comes to retirement we have no past experience to draw from. This is the first time we are doing it. You may discover early on that your expectations of how things will be are not exactly on target. Learning to adapt is a valuable skill for the new retiree and the old retiree as well. If one path does not pan out, don’t fret – try another.

The successful retiree asks important questions before retirement arrives, hopefully staying ahead of the game with a little foresight. Answers don’t always come quickly or easily but it is important to ask sooner rather than later.

Get used to the fact it will take time to find your retirement groove.

Retirement can be lonely

No matter how well you prepare there will be moments when you feel alone. I think this is typical at any stage in life but maybe felt a bit more acutely once you retire. Prior to retirement should you find you feel alone you need only wait until Monday to return to the comradery of co-workers. Not so once you retire.

To varying degrees we are all social creatures. While for the most part I happily savor silent moments by myself my wife appreciates more interaction with others. Even I realize without engaging I get a little slow. The old brain loses its resilience. After a few years into retired life I found I needed something more, something stimulating to fire up my routine.

For both of us a part time job fit the bill. The missus keeps active working at a local law firm while I spend three days a week pouring wine. Both of us get the interaction we need and have far better stories to share at the end of the day.

A part time job works for us but may not be your thing. Whatever your remedy retirement is more fun when you share moments with others. There are clubs, volunteer opportunities, mutual interest groups, and neighbors. My wife has a group of friends that regularly get together to hike nearby parks. Keeping active helps avoid boredom. Having someone to share with – ups as well as downs – is rewarding and just plain healthy.

It’s up to you to fashion a unique retirement

We are different people with diverse wants and needs. Each possesses a unique blueprint for what makes us truly happy. In retirement we begin building a foundation for that life best fitted to our individual passions.

What will your retirement look like?

You might discover useful tidbits from current retirees happy to share specifics of their own journey. It helps to know where they experienced challenges – perhaps you can avoid repeating the same. Understanding what works for them might give insight into similar avenues for you.

Plenty of retirement information is available via numerous books and blogs and magazines. Typically you will find useful nuggets of insight to assist in your journey.

But I have found no one else’s retirement is a perfect prescription for me. Decisions of how I want to live, what I want to do, how I want to do it are all uniquely mine. I entered retirement with certain preconceived notions of what to expect. Many proved far from reality. But that is okay.

It is in the ability to adapt and adjust that my retirement has evolved and improved. Today I am at the point where my days are occupied doing things I like. I am no longer driven by a need to succeed but instead just enjoy the moments. My wife and I share common interests but also have our own and we allow each other the freedom to pursue those individual diversions. I look forward to each day free from stress and happy to be alive.

For me that happiness is what a successful retirement is all about. I expect things will continue to evolve as the years add on and my tastes and interests change. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I am curious and optimistic.

Happy retirement!