The human memory is a powerful and mysterious force. Scents and sounds can evoke visions of the past or allow us to recall a loved one. Losing your memory — struggling to recall names or stumbling over well-known telephone numbers — can be distressing. Here are a number of tips to keep your memory healthy and in top shape.

You should rest each hour for about 5-15 minutes during study or work sessions, so your brain has time to relax. Once you resume your task, your brain will be alert and ready to go.

The phrase “use it or lose it” definitely applies to your memory. Make time to engage in activities that require you to recall information, such as crossword puzzles, learning a new skill or reading. Teaching someone else is also a good way to make active use of your memory and prevent it from becoming rusty.

Keep lists of everything. Keep a shopping list at all times. Hang it on your refrigerator. Every time you think of something you need, add it to the list. This will help make sure you don’t forget anything. Keep lists for other things as well, such as things that need done around your house.

If you find that your memory has deteriorated drastically in a short period of time, it is important that you see your doctor right away. Sudden memory loss could be a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, which can effect people of all ages.

Most of us live in routines. Our lives are centered around having the same routine each day or each week. If we stray from that routine it can keep us from being able to remember things. Your routine is what is holding back your memory. Change how you do things each day to force your brain to develop new ways of remembering and sorting information.

Build consistent study times into your schedule. To build your long-term memory, you need to fight the urge to cram. Cramming information will place it in your short-term memory, and it will easily fall to the wayside once the information is used. To really commit something to your memory, develop daily sessions where you study it with real focus. Keep it consistent, and you will soon find the information is with you for the long haul!

Reducing distractions in your immediate environment will go a long way in helping you to remember something. Phones ringing, children screaming or horns honking are not conducive to memory for anyone so limit the amount of distractions your mind has to deal with, and you will increase your ability to remember!

When you’re trying to commit information to memory, it’s best not to cram. Set up a series of organized study sessions, for the best results. Do not try to learn a large amount of information in a short time. Your mind won’t be able to keep track of everything, and before long, you’ll forget the things you worked to learn. Make sure you have regular study segments to ensure that your brain can remember things.

As you’ve read in this article, keeping your memory healthy and strong is easy and can be fun! Use these tips to keep your mind sharp and enjoy the benefits of always having the name you need on the tip of your tongue, being able to find your keys, and remembering the milk!