It’s time to celebrate and spark some memories! My thoughts for you are short and sweet for this week since many of us are taking a bit of a break to spend with family and friends over the Independence Day Holiday this week. Take advantage of the celebrations and gatherings this week to spark some memories! Use what we’ve learned so far in our #SummerToRemember series and make new memories to enjoy.
We don’t think about exercising our brains as much as our bodies, but we should.
In order to age well, we not only need to take care of our bodies, but also pay attention to maintaining our brains, too. Studies have shown those who stay mentally engaged retain cognitive function longer than those who don’t exercise their minds. This week in our #SummerToRemember series, let’s explore ways to stay mentally sharp.
How do you exercise your brain? In our middle years, we have numerous mental challenges bombarding our brains all day long. We long for the day when we can physically and mental relax a bit in retirement. But that attitude can lead to golden years of lackluster cognitive function. In order to have sharp minds now AND later, we need to stimulate our minds daily, no matter our age.
Retirees may feel they deserve a break-as well they do. However, if we choose to not engage in mentally challenging activities as we age, we will lose the ability to think and function at a high level. It’s the ‘use it or lose it’ adage that applies to both physical and mental ability. When we exercise our brains, we then have more brain power to call upon when needed. It’s that simple.
When life shifts into retirement or a different season of life, how can we continue to challenge ourselves? By being creative!
Daily life offers a plethora of choices and options to stimulate our minds, but are we capitalizing on them? Whether it’s working, raising a family, juggling both children and parents, caring for grandchildren, or just managing our aging lives, we all have choices. How we choose to spend our time truly matters.
Are we engaging mentally in something that stimulates our brains or do we choose easier, more passive ways of spending our days? Are we using our time wisely or taking the path of least resistance to just get by? What we choose will make a difference in our mental capacity later in life. If we always choose the easy path and don’t challenge ourselves mentally, we’ll have less ability to do so later.
Let’s pick the road less travelled as Robert Frost put it. Let’s do simple things like take a different route or figure it out without relying on GPS. Let’s do the math in our head instead of using a calculator. Let’s create a new recipe instead of making the same old thing for dinner. Let’s try a new game, read a different type of book, join a new club or make a new friend. All these simple choices can make a world of difference in how our brain functions now and when we’re older.
The added benefit of challenging ourselves mentally is the good feelings it evokes. Trying something new or different feels uncomfortable at first. But after a while, we settle in, find our groove and eventually can take pride in even attempting something outside our box. Endorphins are released and happier, more satisfying feelings result. WIN, WIN, WIN!!
Give it whirl. Try something new, step out of your normal routine and stimulate your brain more than usual. Do it today, tomorrow and the next day so your future self will thank you. Make it a #SummerToRemember by challenging yourself mentally!
Long summer days and nights bring fun, warmth, and many memories in the making. Capturing these memories can be as elusive as containing a firefly on a breezy, summer evening. As we continue our #SummerToRemember series, let’s dig into which techniques are best to record all our moments.
We all have our go-to memory techniques that typically work. But what about when they don’t? A new friend tried to recall another person’s name she thought we may both know. It really bothered her when she couldn’t remember the woman’s first name. We laughed at how we knew she’d eventually think of it and she did–about an hour later, as is often the case.
We don’t always know how our unique memory works, just that it does (or sometimes doesn’t)! Typically, we try to associate or write things down. Others capture moments in pictures for posterity and prompt recollections later. These are some of my favorites as well as verbal repetition. I too never used to think much about HOW I remembered, but now I do.
Studying memory in depth and applying specific techniques in my own life has shown I benefit from my go-to favorites but also using many techniques in tandem. I’m a visual and auditory person. I prefer these avenues of taking in information as opposed to being more hands-on and tactile. To that end, visual and auditory memory techniques like visualization and written and verbal repetition are my go-to techniques.
I also benefit from a heavy dose of visual association. When traveling, I like to see the map. I recognize visual landmarks and can typically remember where I was and who I was talking to when visually recalling a venue. All of this plays into my strengths and aids in making memories.
My daughter has a great memory for the golf courses she plays. Since I’m often watching her play, we’ll discuss various holes and I recall them best by visualizing the landmarks of each. First, I need to pay attention, but as we go over it, she’ll mention a visual cue and then I know what hole she’s referencing. I don’t remember like she does, but the visual cues help. If that doesn’t work, I refer to the notes I take as she plays. The different techniques blend together and ultimately, assist my memory.
How do you best remember? Is it by visual cues or associations? Do you like to hear things, take notes or pictures? This week, let’s dig into HOW we remember.
Your challenge for this week is to think about how you best like to receive information because then this will be the best way to also recall information. Are you more visual, auditory or tactile? Do you like to see, hear or do things to remember? Once we identify this about ourselves, we can use memory techniques that fit with our strengths and remember more this #SummerToRemember!
For more in-depth resources on memory, check out the Academy subscription service or contact me for a memory wellness presentation for your group in the future! Let’s pay attention to how we remember and capture more of our memorable summer moments!
It’s a year of firsts and lasts for us with two growing teens and an aging family, causing me to hold onto all those memories. Wanting to enhance my own memories and help educate others on memory issues are both part of the impetus behind our #SummerToRemember series. No matter our season of life, we all want to capture our precious memories. But how?
When asked for memory tips my answer is always the same: pay attention. It’s as easy and as complicated as that. In a society where instant gratification and multitasking are praised as virtues, remembering well relies on honing the skill of focused attention.
Nothing we experience can ever move from short term to long term memory correctly if it isn’t paid attention to in the first place. How many times do we catch ourselves wondering or asking for something to be repeated because we missed it the first time? It happens to me WAY more than I’d like to admit! But it does happen.
Our attention span has shrunk to mere single digit seconds. If we don’t get our point across quickly, we’re either interrupted or put on the back burner of someone else’s attention. I’m guilty of this too. But I also try to be cognizant of when it’s happening. Now, I not only catch myself but others’ lack of attention. Once we’re aware of our waning attention we see in others, too.
So what’s the magical path to focused attention and preserved memories? This, my friends, we each need to find on our own. Some (today’s entire generation under 30) use pictures to chronicle their lives. This is fine but it can cause us to miss the presence of a moment by attempting to get the perfect pic. Some try to hone their attention by practicing mindfulness-a process of being still and mindfully paying attention to the world around us while not attempting to manipulate it. Others use meditation; seeking to forge a higher sense of concentration and stress relief. Still others pray, seek help, or practice focus building with a combination of the above or another way entirely.
There is no one universally applicable path to honing our attention. Over the last few years, I’ve purposefully chosen to be more present in everything and with everyone. I’ve had good and not so good moments with this process, but it has brought an increasing awareness to my attention span (or at times, lack thereof).
I tend to move and desire to get things done quickly. But I’ve learned to slow my pace, take life in and not try to control things so much. I try to be aware of when my mind begins to wander, my pace quickens or am attempting too many things at once. It’s a bit outside my comfort zone, but it’s helped me focus on what is important in any given moment and also remember more.
Last week our challenge was to identify what was valuable that we wanted to remember most this summer. This week’s challenge is to identify what’s influencing or hampering our attention span.
Are we multitasking more than we should? Easily distracted by too much in your environment? Let’s use what we identified as valuable last week to help identify what gets in the way of paying attention to said thing or person. How can we shift our focus from what’s not important to what is?
I challenge us all to think about our attention and create strategies to focus on the important each day. It’s the next step toward making this a #SummerToRemember!
Life is made up of choices. One after the other, every day, all day, we make choices whether we realize it or not. Not doing something is also a choice. We either choose TO DO or NOT to do something. Either way it’s a choice. All these decisions can be overwhelming and daunting, especially as we age. Our choices matter, so how do we choose wisely?
By keeping what’s important in perspective.
If we want to make wise choices for our memory and brain, we need to keep what we value in perspective. What’s important to you as you age? Is it a healthy body, mind, and spirit? Are your relationships important, your work, faith, and/or your legacy? What we deem important is where we focus. To make wise choices, we need to keep what we value at the heart of all of them.
Making choices involve many different parts of our brain, particularly the frontal lobe. Decisions can become more difficult due to our aging brains but also from our daily lifestyle choices. Making memories, remembering what we want to when we want to, and making decisions can all be made a bit easier by how we live. Our everyday choices have an impact on our memory and overall brain wellness.
Maybe it’s because I’m seeing children turn into adults in front of my eyes or watching loved ones and clients age, but I want all my choices to reflect what matters most. I want to remember well and want those I care for to remember well too. Life is short, so let’s make our choices count. Let’s create an environment to make memories in all our fleeting moments.
Summer memories are often some of our most treasured. Our choices, whether made quickly or after thoughtful deliberation stitch together the fabric of our memories. So let’s choose to start here, today and this summer. Let’s make this a Summer to Remember by consciously choosing what’s important to us and for us.
To dive into making this a Summer to Remember, we must understand our lifestyle choices made multiple times daily impact our overall and also our memory wellness. Choosing wisely includes managing what and how we think, what we eat, how much we move our bodies, and understanding how to focus and use our memory well. These and other topics will be the focus of our blog for the summer.
To begin, let’s all take a moment in the next week to identify what’s truly important and the memories we’d like to create this summer and in the future. Write down what’s important to you and make a list of memories you’d like to create. This may take planning either to initiate or to get ourselves ready to make a memory. Choices stem from what we value, so let’s identify what’s valuable for each of us. Beginning next week, we’ll dig into a new topic impacting our memory wellness each week to truly put ourselves in the best position to make this a Summer to Remember!
Join me on social media by sharing what you value and want you’d like to capture this summer by using the hashtag #SummerToRemember. Let’s focus on what’s important and dive into a Summer to Remember!