Mind and Body

6 ways to sharpen your memory

Take a few minutes out of the day to challenge yourself with these mental exercises.

If “Now, what was I going to Google?” has become your new catchphrase, it’s time to challenge your gray matter. “You can improve your memory and the way your brain functions overall by regularly exercising each of your five senses,” says Manning Rubin, a co-author of Keep Your Brain Alive. Pick three days a week to do this series of six brain-stimulating exercises.

In the Morning
1. Change the Station
Set your alarm clock to a new radio station (or switch to the buzzer). Processing unfamiliar sounds—rather than that familiar DJ—wakes up your brain another way.

2. Get Dressed With Your Eyes Closed
Lay your clothes out the night before, then put them on blindly in the a.m. (no peeking!). “If you blunt one of your senses, the others work harder, which strengthens the brain,” says Rubin.


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In the Afternoon
3. Play Lunch Roulette
Swap brown bags with one of your coworkers. Breaking a routine by surprising your taste buds helps force the brain to trigger new nerve pathways, which keeps it healthy.

4. Shop by Heart
Fire up your brain-cell activity by trying to remember your grocery list in your head instead of relying on a written list. Or at least tuck the paper into your bag and pull it out only at the end of your trip to catch what, if anything, you’ve missed.

5. Have a Silent Family Dinner
Enforce a “no talking while eating” rule for one night. You’ll have to communicate your request for an extra roll in a visual way, which will spark creativity.

6. Switch Your Brushing Routine
Or, rather, use your nondominant hand. This challenges your brain to exercise nerve cells on the side that you don’t typically use. Fighting cavities and memory loss: a fresh take on multitasking.