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How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Tips and Exercises to Sharpen Your Memory

by Michelle Joe

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A healthy brain is absolutely vital for good brain function and to fight off mental illnesses. The best way to attain it is by increasing blood flow to the brain.

With improved blood flow, you can see a rapid improvement in executive functions such as focus, cognition and acuity, willpower, better control over emotions, and most important of all, sharpened short and long-term memory. 

Light therapy for depression, brain exercises for dementia, and chewing gum for anxiety are just some of the ways to improve cerebral blood circulation to fight off serious mental illnesses.

Insufficient blood flow means the brain is not getting enough oxygen, glucose and other nutrients. On the other hand, it’s retaining bigger portions of carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and other metabolic wastes.

This can lead to a multitude of cognitive problems and numerous mental illnesses such as dementia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder and others.

Here are 7 ways you can increase your cerebral blood flow today;

1. Exercise

woman running

The number one way to get the blood flowing to your brain is through physical activity. Neuroscientists and physiologists have found that exercise helps slow down the decay of brain muscles, thereby improving overall brain function.

It does not have to be something that tires you. It can be any physical activity that you enjoy and can regularly do, for example, a 30-minute walk, a 15-minute run, a short swim, hiking, rowing, or even dancing. All of these can be effective as long as you are regular.

Yoga is another great way to get some blood flow to the brain. Poses that place your heart above your head are especially effective, such as the downward dog pose.

2. Music

woman listening to music

Good music can be a strong stimulator for the brain. According to Dr. Jonathan Burdette, a neuroradiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, music has a unique effect on all of us.

Whether it is Mozart or Miley Cyrus, if you listen to music that you enjoy, it increases blood flow to the brain. It also helps to produce positive emotions that make you happier and more creative.

3. Learning a foreign language

Learning a new or foreign language is another great way to fire up those brain cells and enhance your cognitive flexibility. People who are bilingual or multilingual have bigger and better performing brains.

According to this British Council research, when people are exposed to different accents, pronunciations, and new types of writing styles, their brains get stimulated. It leads to increased thinking capability which ultimately results in increased blood flow.

It acts as a brain exercise and sharpens your memory while slowing down the aging of the brain -  whether you’re young or old.

4. Meditation

person meditating

Meditation plays a significant role in boosting memory. It increases blood flow to areas of the brain that store and retrieve memories. One type is the Kirtan Kriya, which when done for only twelve minutes a day, can improve blood circulation to the brain.

Integrative Body-Mind Training (IBMT), a type of mindfulness meditation, also helps induce a positive mood and strengthen neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to transform by forging new connections throughout a person’s lifespan.

5. Food

healthy meal

The food you eat plays a big role in keeping your brain healthy. Bringing small changes to your diet can really make a big difference.

Use more spices and herbs in your food. Garlic, ginger, turmeric, and rosemary are known to increase blood flow to the brain.

Amino acid taurine, found in dark meat and shellfish, also improves overall blood flow. Omega-3s, found in fish like salmon, nitrate from beetroots, phytonutrient resveratrol found in red wine, peanuts, berries, and grapes are all excellent nutrients for better circulation.

To know more about the effects of different kinds of nuts on brain health and memory, read more here. 

A little chocolate also helps improve blood flow and keep the mind fresh for hours. A study by Professor Ian Macdonald showed that consuming a flavanol-rich, chocolate drink can amplify blood circulation to specific regions of the brain for a couple of hours, which enhances performance and alertness.

Finally, increasing consumption of tea and decreasing consumption of coffee is also necessary. Coffee contains significant amounts of caffeine that actually obstructs blood flow to the brain.

Tea, on the other hand, has less caffeine and instead has more of a relaxing compound called l-theanine. L-theanine helps in counteracting the effects of caffeine and improves blood flow, uplifts mood and emotions.

6. Exposure to bright light

Research shows that exposing yourself to sunlight or any bright light helps stimulate the brain. According to one study, after just a few days of light therapy, some parts of the brain showed increased activity and blood flow in depressed individuals.

Light therapy also affects pre-term infants’ blood circulation. It was also revealed that increased levels of Vitamin D could lead to better blood flow to the brain.

7. Chewing Gum

bubble gum

This might be one of the easiest things you could do. Among other health benefits, chewing gum also affects a person’s mental health.

The basic act of mastication, i.e., chewing, increases blood circulation to specific areas of the brain that are responsible for anxiety and alertness. It also reduces cortisol levels.

Today you see a lot of new regimens coming up every day that aim to improve your physical fitness. There’s the vegan, vegetarian, keto, raw food, Mediterranean, and several other diets, along with countless types of cardio workouts, weight training, etc.

Not to undermine the importance of these, because physical fitness is extremely important. But a lot of people tend to ignore their mental fitness while devoting all their energy to physical fitness.

What they really need to understand is that just like they need to work to keep their bodies fit, they also have to work to keep their brains fit and functioning at full capacity.

Take the next steps into overall health and wellness and go on a detox meditation retreat!

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