5 Simple Habits to Boost Memory and Learning

May 2023
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Do you often forget things? Whether it’s looking for your keys, recalling the items on your grocery list or thinking of what you did last week, we’re all trying to remember a lot and dealing with information overload and many different stimuli.

The good news is there are a few things that can help boost your memory and learning, according to Inc.

The first one is focusing on your diet. Mushrooms (and specifically porcini) can “boost nerve growth and enhance memory,” neuroscientists say, and “contain antioxidants that fight medical conditions associated with aging, like cancer, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.” Meanwhile, dark chocolate and cinnamon can improve cognitive function. And eating more vegetables can also lead to less memory loss later in life, experts say.

Beyond food, having quality relationships can lead to a happy and fulfilled life. To strengthen these connections, Inc. suggests conducting an audit of your relationships, and detail which ones provide you with the most value and others you’d like to improve.

During periods of isolation, our brain cells can “become hyperactive, which in turn suppresses brain circuit function and memory formation,” so surrounding yourself with other people and maintaining healthy relationships can have the opposite effect.

Spending time in dimly lit environments is another factor that can impair learning and memory. Similarly, not getting enough sleep can lead to “deficits... in vigilance and episodic memory,” according to the article. Conversely, those who spent time in brighter environments maintained higher mental function. Being outdoors in nature also yields health benefits such as enhanced memory, attention and concentration.

Participating in cognitive-based activities can also help. Detailed hobbies like birdwatching require processing and recalling information, and reading for pleasure (especially for at least 90 minutes at a time) can strengthen memory skills. Taking part in mentally stimulating activities such as puzzles, brain games and crosswords also improves “cognition, function and neuroprotection,” researchers say.

Lastly (and perhaps least expected), walking backward has been linked to increased memory recall. “Motion-induced past-directed mental time travel improved mnemonic performance for different types of information,” said one of the study leads at the University of Roehampton in London. “We have named this a ‘mnemonic time-travel effect.’”

Here are five simple habits, via Inc., to boost memory and learning.

  1. Eat specific foods.
  2. Build good relationships.
  3. Improve your environment.
  4. Spend your time wisely.
  5. Walk backward.
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