Improve your memory in less than a minute

Do you want to improve your memory, digestion, blood pressure, and immune system in less than a minute? I imagine the answer is yes, and I bet you are wondering how that is possible. Let me show you the wonderful world of our brain and its connections to every area of our life.

I have always been fascinated by the brain. I received my Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology (a fancy term that means “the study of the biological reasons for our behaviors”) and went on to earn my Masters of Science in Speech-Language Pathology.

As a Speech-Language Pathologist at Jefferson Healthcare, it is my job to work with people who have cognitive difficulties. Cognition includes memory, attention, planning, decision making, and word finding. Patients I work with see me for a variety of reasons such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, etc., however, we all have one thing in common, we have a brain and want to improve how it works!

Research has shown tools that can improve our thinking and memory; however, one is consistently shown to be simple and effective; breathing. Yes, that thing you do all day is the key to better thinking, right now! The technique I will teach you is called the 4-7-8 breath, or relaxation breath.

Before we get started, please check with your doctor if you have any concerns about completing the following breathing exercise.

To begin, sit or lay comfortably, arms and legs relaxed (not crossed), and allow your gaze to soften or your eyes to close.

  1. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds.
  2. Hold your breath for 7 seconds, staying relaxed in your body.
  3. Exhale through the mouth for 8 seconds.
  4. Repeat from step #1 for 3-5 rounds

The long, slow exhale triggers our parasympathetic nervous system, also known as our relaxation response, the opposite of “fight or flight”. When the relaxation response is activated, our brain receives increased oxygen and has improved connectivity (more connections = better thinking/memory).

Our bodily functions such as digestion, blood pressure, heart rate, and immune response improve. Relaxation is our optimal state.

This technique has a cumulative effect, meaning when practiced regularly (3 rounds takes less than a minute!), the pathway in our brains is more easily activated and we see increased benefits. Try to pair this breathing technique with something you do regularly to help you remember to do it, I like completing it before each meal!

Enjoy this simple and effective tool as often as needed; you can use it when feeling stressed, trying to fall asleep, or anytime you want increased peace. Share with friends and family for even greater benefits!

Megan Devries, SLP, Jefferson Healthcare Rehabilitation Services –Megan has a Master of Science in Speech and Language Pathology from the University of South Florida.  She has a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology and has clinical interests in swallowing and cognitive issues.

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