Skin serums and beauty treatments might seem like the most obvious way to fight aging, but there's a simple way to remain healthy and youthful that has proven long-lasting effects: flexing your mind. While genetics affect part of your memory skills, Gary Small, the director of the UCLA Longevity Center, says “about two-thirds of what determines how well we age comes from non-genetic factors—as in, our everyday behaviors.” So, if you make small changes now, you can naturally build up brain strength and increase your memory skills, he tells Prevention. Flex your mental skills with these simple hacks and bid bye-bye to lost keys for good.
Finding a permanent home for items you use every day, such as your keys, wallet, and cell phone, will help streamline your routine. You’ll never have to stress about finding stray items if you always put them in the same place, and this will lessen the load your memory has to carry.
Struggle to remember your grocery list? Boost your memory by creating a story that includes each item you need to buy. The more creative the story is, the more likely you are to remember it. “If I know I need eggs and stamps and to pick up the dry cleaning, I see myself holding a big egg with a stamp on it, and the egg slips, getting on my pants, so I have to go to the cleaners,” Small says. “Exerting that mental energy creates a cognitive framework that helps you retrieve the information later.”
Try introducing yourself to someone new each day. When you do, focus on their name and frame it you can remember it. Framing means to create a memorable mental picture of the name. For example, when you meet someone named Mary, imagine her drinking a Bloody Mary. This will help you better remember the name in the future.
When you can’t remember something, for example, the name of an actor, focus on the things you associate with the actor, like movies or co-stars. Small explains it like this: “Our memories live in neighborhoods, so a neighboring memory could trigger the word you’re looking for.”
There are all sorts of apps with games that improve concentration, adaptability, and task-switching skills. Some good ones to try out include Mental Workout, Elevate, and Lumosity.
Every day before you say goodbye to a loved one in the morning, zero in on one item of clothing they are wearing. Remember everything about it, from the color of the fabric to the detailed pattern. When you get into bed at night, try to recall all of those details.
Challenge your brain by finding an alternative route to work, using your non-dominant hand to brush your hair, or wearing your watch upside down. This will force your brain to fight routine and develop your mental skills.