HEALTHMental5 Ways To Boost Your Memory

5 Ways To Boost Your Memory

By: Michelle Bogle

Keeping your memory sharp is just as important as your physical health and well-being. How you live, what you eat and drink and how you treat your body can impact your ability to remember information and past experiences.

As a firefighter, one of your most important pieces of equipment is your memory. You use it to encode, collect, store and recall microscopic details when responding to an emergency, like the layout of a burning building, exit points or the location of people and pets. Your job also requires you to retain the proper arrangement of equipment, routes in designated areas and department procedures. In your line of work, swift memorization skills can be the difference between life or death.

Keeping your memory sharp is just as important as your physical health and well-being. How you live, what you eat and drink and how you treat your body can impact your ability to remember information and past experiences. To keep your cognitive processes strong, here are five ways to boost your mental fitness:

Manage your stress

Studies have shown that excessive stress can be detrimental to a person’s memory function, especially when it is frequent and for long durations of time. Incorporating stress-management tactics, like deep breathing, meditation, yoga and mindfulness, into your daily life can help to lower your stress and improve your memory on the job.

Focus on sleep 

Sleep plays an important role in the consolidation of memory, which is the process that strengthens and integrates the memory into pre-existing knowledge networks. Improving your sleep habits and seeking treatment for sleep disorders, like insomnia and apnea, can help you to retain more information and make it easier to access.

Quit smoking

Research has shown that smoking can negatively impact a person’s working memory, making it difficult to recall stored information. Whether you smoke the occasional cigarette with friends or have a pack-a-day habit, it’s time to butt out.  

Limit alcohol

Consuming too much alcohol can lead to short-term memory loss by slowing down how nerves communicate with each other in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that forms and maintains memories. Excessive alcohol use goes one step further by destroying nerve cells in the hippocampus, causing long-term memory loss. To support proper brain health, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women consume no more than one alcoholic beverage per day or a maximum of two drinks per day for men.

Protect against head injuries

Head trauma is a major cause of short- and long-term memory loss. Always wear protective head equipment when out on the fire ground and seek treatment for head injuries, no matter how small. These safety measures also extend to your personal life. Always wear a seat belt when riding in a motor vehicle or a helmet during high-speed activities and contact sports, like skating or skiing and riding a bicycle, horse, ATV or motorcycle.

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