Everybody today is looking to get ahead however they can.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a young law student, a busy marketing executive, or a competitive gamer, you will be regularly put under immense pressure and expected to perform flawlessly.
When you are in a position where there is a lot riding on your performing mentally, the first thing to go is often your memory.
We’ve all experienced it before; you study for months for a test, and then as soon as the clock starts, you can’t remember a thing.
Some of you reading this will have experienced something very similar in a big client meeting. The more important the presentation, the more riding on them signing up to your firm, the easier it is for your memory to stop working as soon as it’s your turn to pitch.
But you may have noticed that this happens much less often to some individuals than others.
This is usually because they have practiced ways of recalling information when they need to.
Sometimes it is simply because they have been gifted a wonderful memory.
But there are ways that everyone can improve their memory retention and recall speeds around the clock.
There are some simple, safe, and most importantly, free methods you can employ to optimize your memory function.
Employing these methods in your day to day life can help ensure that you are at your best precisely when you need to be.
Here are three great ones to get started.
The health benefits of intermittent fasting have been well established. Many people around the world employ this way of eating to help them lose body fat, reduce cravings, get their blood sugar under control, or simply to practice mental discipline.
This last point is certainly a major benefit of intermittent fasting and it can help your cognitive function enormously.
Practicing fasting on a regular basis can help you learn to tune out distractions and focus on the matter at hand. It can teach you to ignore the emotions you feel as a result of hunger and to concentrate on what’s important.
However, this is not the main benefit we’re talking about here.
Perhaps more importantly than the discipline it instills, intermittent fasting can have a profound physiological impact on your brain and, by extension, your cognitive function.
As this blog helpfully explains, intermittent fasting is actually known to increase the production of a compound called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
This is a chemical which controls the rate of neurogenesis – that is, the formation of new brain tissue.
In short, intermittent fasting is known to directly stimulate the release of BDNF, which promotes the growth of new brain cells, neurons, and other cerebral tissues.
The effect this can have on your focus and memory function should be pretty obvious.
It may be worth giving intermittent fasting a try in the run-up to your finals, or as your next big client pitch approaches, and see if it gives you the mental edge you’ve been looking for.
The best thing about intermittent fasting is that it has so many peripheral health benefits, is easy to do, and is free!
Learn A Language
Don’t worry; we’re not about to tell you that you need to become practically fluent in French to stand a chance of doing well in your next exam.
But practicing a foreign language for just 5 minutes every day can have an absolutely enormous impact on your long-term memory function.
Neuroscientists have noted how language learning activities very specific parts of your brain. Giving these areas some activity as it were can really pay off in the long-run.
Indeed, if we look at the clinical data for language learning and cognitive decline, the power o this method becomes clear.
You don’t need to set yourself serious targets, or even practice the language outside of your designated practice time.
It seems that the mere act of committing new words, sentence structures, and conjugations to memory acts as a kind of “exercise” for your brain.
All it takes is a few minutes while you get ready for work each morning.
Who knows? You may find that you progress more quickly than you thought, and all of a sudden you have a new passions and a new skill!
Again, this is an easy, fun, and free method to introduce to your daily routine. There are plenty of free language learning applications out there now which are also incredibly fun to use. Check out Duolingo as a good place to start!
Go For A Run
This one is probably known to most of you, but you may not realize just how good a short run every day can be for your brain.
Lots of people run regularly to get fitter, to get faster, and to help them live longer.
Many run regularly for their mental health too; getting out first thing in the morning and pounding the pavements is a form of meditation for a large number of people.
Indeed, running is one of the only ways that many people get out into the country, away from other people, and spend time with themselves.
But we’re going to focus on the physical benefits of running here. Not the decreased risk of heart disease, increased lung capacity, and so on.
No; we’re going to focus on the physical effect of running on the brain.
The first thing we need to point out is that running dramatically increases brain circulatory capacity.
Going for a run on a regular basis (say 2-3 times per week) can significantly increase the amount of blood that can be circulated around your brain.
This is due to the vasodilation that occurs while you run; as soon as you start pounding the pavement, your blood vessels dilate, and the blood starts pumping.
Obviously, if you increase your cerebral circulation, you can deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your brain cells. You can also start delivering more oxygen to those areas of the brain that might otherwise be getting less than they need.
This will lead to dramatic improvements in cognitive function in the long-run. Everything from memory retention and recall to focus and even mood can be protected from degradation through this method.
By making these small changes to your daily routine, then you can guarantee that your memory will stop failing you when you need to rely on it most.
Going for a 15-minute run, practicing Turkish, and restricting your caloric intake to an 8-hour window may seem like small changes on their own, but employed together they can make a huge difference to your focus, recall and reaction times now and in the future.
So go on, give them a try today!