10 Suggestions for Maintaining Your MemoryTry the following 10 strategies to protect your memory and keep it strong.1) Focus on AttendingIf you are listening to someone, repeat or paraphrase what they have said along with writing it down, if possible. Try different ways of attending, this helps make new neural connections. In a Dale Carnegie course, the manual suggests that you shake a persons hand and repeat their name upon meeting. Now with Skype and other digital media this can be impossible, but you can still repeat information out loud and take notes. There is research on whether typing information into a computer or the actual act of writing on a piece of paper helps the attention process along with proper storage. It is important to have undivided attention when you are focused on the new information. The Chinese Ideogram for To Listen is eyes, ears, undivided attention and a heart. If you are thinking, when someone is presenting information, you often are not listening to what is presented. Also, it is important to keep the task within your ability orunderstanding. It is extremely hard to properly process and store information when you dont have a good understanding of that information or meaning of what is being said.2) Learn Novel ways of ThinkingUse it or lose it. Do crossword puzzles help? Yes. Does Luminosity and similar websites help? Yes. However, if all you ever do is crossword puzzles eventually other areas of the brain and brain connections will die off. Its important to have a balanced life of conversations with new friends, new routines, and taking different routes when doing your morning run or bicycle ride. As mentioned above, those connections you do use will get stronger, however if you arent doing something novel, the connections youre not using will die off. This is especially true if your brain injury is from disease and/or trauma. If you had a sport-related concussion and you continue on the same path of recovery, the areas that are damaged due to the TBI may never recover. You need to use your brain as much as possible in a variety of ways.3)StressReductionFor many, this is one of the hardest things to do. There is extensive research on how stress affects your ability to attend, concentrate, store and retrieve information. Add to this a disease and/or trauma and your brain just shuts down. Heart rate breathing is extremely important. The heart to brain communication system is through the vagus nerve and the sympathetic afferents. Through controlling your breath, you are able to have control of your brain and higher brain centers that influence registration, storage and retrieval. TheemWave2(link is external)is a method to help you learn heart rate breathing. This method is not going to make the baby stop crying or make the leaky roof go away. Rather, it is going to give you a tool to help you cope better, which reduces the stress, thus allowing you to attend, concentrate, store and retrieve information more effectively.4)NutritionWhat you eat affects your brain. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet that is high in protein andOmega 3really makes a difference. I go into great details about the foods to eat and the foods to avoid my book,Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury(link is external). Also, in theBrain Health Recipes(link is external)portion of my blog there is a wide variety of recipes specifically to help your brainhealthand your memory. Lastly, as part of our integrativeteam, we have an amazing nutritional educator. 5) RestorativeSleepThis area is extremely important, which is why I wrote a previous blog on sleep and devoted an entire chapter to sleep in my book. It is essential that you go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time, if possible. Do not have sound machines or the radio or TV going during the night. Sleep is the first area that is most effected by disease, trauma and/or neglect related memory problems. Rescue Remedy sleep is very effective, as is taking a soothing bath along with the heart rate breathing that helps reduce the stress in your life so you can attain restorative sleep.6) ExerciseThis is a lot easier than you think. Park a block away from your office. Walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Buy a big medicine ball and bounce on it while watching TV or a movie. Try isometric exercise. Try Tai Chi exercises. Move for a least 20 minutes a day!7) Be Careful with PrescriptionMedicationIf you had a brain injury, do NOT take any medication that will affect your central nervous system (CNS) unless it is LIFE or DEATH. Every medication has some side-effects. Only use the medication, if and only if, the positive effects outweigh the negative. If you are in severe pain and need to take a medication for your pain, be aware it will affect your memory. There are major drug categories that will affect your memory including sleep aides, steroids, antiepileptic drugs, tranquilizers, anti-anxietydrugs, and muscle relaxants to name a few. Again, be sure to use prescription medication and even some herbal remedies with caution.8) Alcohol, Wine, Beer and DrugsThis is a no brainersm! Use any of these, especially together, and lose your memory. Period. This is especially true if you have had a form of disease or trauma to the brain. So, this is your choice. Now Im not saying I never have a drink of wine on a Saturday night, but if I do, I understand the consequences and do not plan to have a consultation or see a patient on Sunday.9) StopSmokingWith a brain injury there is a decrease of oxygen to the brain. When you smoke there is even less.10) Reduce yourCaffeineThis is a mixed area, because for some people with memory problems caffeine can actually help in the short term to attend or focus, yet in the long run it can cause adrenal exhaustion, which effects retrieval of information.Now you have a choice. You can continue to neglect yourself, which will definitely cause you some form of memory loss. This is especially true if you have a disease or trauma to the brain. Or, you can take the 10 suggestions presented above and make changes to improve your life and memory.The next blog will present methods and treatments using conventional, complementary and alternative approaches for improving your memory as a result of diseases and/or trauma. What is important to know is that there is a way.