5 Ways to Improve Memory and Mental Agility

The brain is an organ that needs to be stimulated. If not, it can lose its rhythm, and you may start to experience memory problems and other issues.
5 Ways to Improve Memory and Mental Agility
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Have you forgotten where you put your cell phone charger? Forgotten an important appointment? Have you also noticed that you’re losing a little mental agility? That you’re no longer as creative as before? Don’t worry!

The brain is like a muscle that you can strengthen with a little daily exercise. We’ll explain the best techniques to strengthen your memory and mental agility in this article. You could see how much of a difference this makes every day.

1. Avoid routine, do something new every day

It’s important to remember that one of the worst enemies of your memory and mental agility is doing the same thing day after day. Work, chores, shopping, doing this, doing that… Little by little, you can fall into a routine that creates a kind of sensory deprivation. In other words, your brain has no stimuli to activate it.

Monotony and daily routines that never change reduce your creativity. They also don’t give you new situations from which to learn, experiment, and enjoy.

  • Thus, it’s vital that you do something different each day in whatever moment you can.

Maybe even today you can do a few yoga exercises when you get home. Tomorrow, go for a walk, and on another day go to a dance class. Do whatever you can imagine but remember… break your routine!

2. Concentrating on the here and now is good for your memory and mental agility

Mental agility

Another common problem is thinking of a thousand other things while trying to do something else.

It’s possible that while you’re making dinner your mind is reviewing your day:

  • You think about the conversations, problems, things you’ll do tomorrow, and your obligations for the next day.

However, do you really know what’s happening? You’re actually losing your present, your “here and now!” As such, you don’t realize whether you’ve turned off the stove, or whether you were with a friend at some point.

So, if you don’t focus on what you’re doing at the moment, your brain will wander in a vague cloud without ever focusing its attention. Take the time to enjoy the present!

3. Go for a walk and relax your mind

Woman's legs walking on path

Walking can become your daily vitamin, natural relaxant,  and “miracle” antidepressant. In addition, walking is a wonderful way to sharpen your memory and mental agility.

Walking is an exercise that roots you in the present, making you aware of your body, of your feet touching the ground, of your heart rate beginning to rise.

At the same time, walking helps relieve tension and releases burdens. As a result, your brain is freer to think, imagine, create, etc. Why not start putting this into practice?

Plus, one scientific article showed that walking can significantly improve your cognitive processes and sharpen your mind. At the same time, the surroundings and places where you choose to walk can also stimulate your mind and force you to explore new ways of thinking. This was demonstrated in an investigation published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

4. Say yes to laughing and no to obsessive thoughts

There are some who have the habit of constantly feeding themselves negative thoughts:

  • “I won’t be able to with this.”
  • “I am a mess; I always forget things.”
  • “I can’t rely on my short-term memory.”
  • “I always forget and stick my foot in my mouth.”

It’s also important to mention that these negative thoughts sometimes come from those around you. The very same people who make sure to remind you, quite effectively, that you’re forgetful. And there’s nothing worse than that.

  • If you listen to their ideas, you’ll only reinforce your short-term memory and lower your self-esteem.

Don’t listen to them. Stop the stream of negative thoughts in your brain and start seeing life with a good sense of humor. L earn to laugh and see the bright side of things.

Sometimes it’s difficult, but laughing relieves tension and lessens stress. Moreover, a brain free from tension can better recall memories and is more agile.

5. Be creative: knit, write, dance, draw

Finally, it’s important that you never lose the ability to learn new things. Learning improves your memory and mental agility, in addition to generating positive emotions and breaking out of your routine.

A study published in Occupational Therapy International determined that any artistic activity, from drawing, dancing and knitting to doing DIY can help the brain reach a level of concentration similar to that achieved during meditation. Similarly, some investigations have demonstrated that this technique reduces stress, and can significantly improve memory, performance, attention span and mood.

How can you learn new things? You don’t have to sign up for a university class. Life is full of big and little things from which you can learn. Furthermore, a lot of them won’t cost you any money, believe it or not.

All you need is your own willpower and one or two hours a day to practice.

Want a few easy examples?

Knit or crochet

This ancient exercise contains incredible benefits for your physical and mental health.

  • You’ll develop creativity, alleviate stress, foster social relationships by sharing techniques, focus your attention, and reach goals.

We encourage you to crochet or knit, you’ll love it.

Read or write

There are a thousand books and new worlds to discover. In addition, they’ll help you to have more mental agility and will improve your memory.

  • It’s like providing “fuel” for the brain and it will help keep you young, with your cognitive processes in good shape.

Take advantage of the internet

Not everything on the internet is bad. The web is an ocean of possibilities when it comes to learning. You can use it to discover interesting methods to improve your memory.

  • Also, there are games and programs that are very useful and effective. Don’t hesitate to give them a try!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Aguado-Aguilar, L. (2001). Aprendizaje y memoria. In Revista de Neurologia. https://doi.org/10.1155/NP.1999.97
  • Tirapu-Ustárroz, J., & Muñoz-Céspedes, J. M. (2005). Memoria y funciones ejecutivas. Revista de Neurologia. https://doi.org/10.1021/ct400678g
  • Ballesteros, S. (2010). Memoria. Psicothema. https://doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.2836
  • Halbwachs, M. (1990). Espacio Y Memoria Colectiva. Estudios Sobre Las Culturas Contemporáneas. https://doi.org/10.2307/40183784
  • Etchepareborda, M., & Abad-Mas, L. (2005). Memoria de trabajo en los procesos básicos del aprendizaje. Revista de Neurologia.
  • Morgado, I. (2005, March). Psicobiología del aprendizaje y la memoria: Fundamentos y avances recientes. Revista de Neurologia.
  • Voss, M. W., Prakash, R. S., Erickson, K. I., Basak, C., Chaddock, L., Kim, J. S., … & Wójcicki, T. R. (2010). Plasticity of brain networks in a randomized intervention trial of exercise training in older adults. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 2, 32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20890449
  • Gutman, S. A., & Schindler, V. P. (2007). The neurological basis of occupation. Occupational therapy international, 14(2), 71-85. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17623380
  • Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Diamond, B. J., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and cognition, 19(2), 597-605. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1053810010000681

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.