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8 ways to sharpen your mind

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Women, in particular, juggle more work than ever, as they continue to perform the traditional housekeeper, cook and chauffeur roles. The result? Overload, stress … and memory lapses.

You might notice it in little ways—such as, momentarily forgetting a colleague’s name, or in big ways, such as misplacing important documents—but the frustration and fear are the same.

Take little steps now to exercise your mind. According to Pink, these eight steps can help improve your memory, while relieving stress:

1. Chew. Why it works: MRI studies of brain activity show jaw movements increase signals in the hippocampus, an area of the brain critical for learning. Chewing also can reduce stress (which may explain why some people chew on the end of a pencil).

2. Drink coffee. Just one cup in the morning can improve your concentration and memory well into the afternoon, says a study by the Cognition and Neuroimaging Laboratories at the University of Arizona.

3. Dance. Why it works: It provides both physical and mental stimulation. Proof: Older people who dance at least three times a week are 76% less likely to have dementia than those who dance just once a week or less, according to research at the Albert Einstein Center in New York.

4. Think. Exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. What to do: Learn a foreign language, play a musical instrument, read, work crossword puzzles or even play along with television game shows.

5. Meditate. Meditation, yoga and massage have been shown to relieve stress and improve mental function, says Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa, president and medical director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Foundation International.

6. Add vitamin C. Proof: In one study, Harvard researchers found that people who took vitamin C supplements daily for up to 20 years scored higher on memory tests than those who took the supplement for a brief time or not at all.

7. Eat cold-water fish twice a week. Why it works: Fish are high in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a substance that improves blood flow to the brain and prevents damage to areas where brain cells communicate.

8. Take ibuprofen. Why it works: In animal research, the drug reduced inflammation in the brain and inhibited the buildup of waxy deposits that scientists believe play a role in Alzheimer’s. (Consult with your doctor before using ibuprofen.)

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