Whether you’re concerned with mastering facts for a test, getting the names of your coworkers right or preventing memory loss down the road, there are steps you can take to help you accomplish your goals. You may not be able to completely revolutionize your mind, but you can practice simple techniques to help improve your memory and keep your brain functioning well.
1. Implement the tricks of the trade
If you really want to be the master of memorizing, you may have to put in a little elbow grease to see some quick results. Use focusing tricks to help you commit facts to your short-term and long-term memory. Here are some easy strategies you can implement.
Repeat a fact after you learn it, either aloud or silently to yourself. If someone introduces himself on the first day of work, use his name right away and internally repeat it to yourself a number of times. After the brief introduction or conversation is over, stop and review what you’ve just learned. His name is David, he works in the personnel office and he has been with the company for five years. Repeat the information a few more times to help you cement the facts in your mind. Additionally, writing down the details is another great way to repeat the information for your brain’s convenience. Plus, as long as you jot down the note in a safe place, you can have the luxury of referring back to the sheet of paper later as needed.
If you have a hard time recalling details like the names of your child’s friends or which office supplies go in which drawers, create some associations to help you remember. If Sheryl and Bailey both come over together for a playdate with your daughter, come up with a trick to remember who’s who by reasoning “Since Bailey’s a brunette and Sheryl has red hair, I can remember that the B’s go together. When I see the brunette running past me, it must be Bailey.” Obviously, if you create a far-fetched association that’s hard to remember, you’ll probably end up forgetting the initial fact and the association so keep things simple and straightforward.
If you’re bad at remembering things like getting your lunch out of the fridge before you leave for work or unplugging your phone once it has been charged, you can leave notes and reminders in visible places. Put a post-it note on the front door saying “Lunch” so you can’t miss it before you go out the door in the morning. When the charger is plugged into your bedroom outlet, put a piece of paper in front of the clock that you look at before bed so that the paper is obscuring the visibility of the time. Later when you naturally check what time it is, the piece of paper in the way can act as a reminder that you need to unplug the phone before going to bed. If you have an event that you’re afraid of forgetting, set the alarm on your phone to go off when you need to start getting ready and not when the event itself begins.
2. Exercise your brain in general
Keeping yourself mentally active can have a huge influence on the connections between neurons in your brain, helping to prevent deterioration and brain disease in the long run while also helping you to stay intellectually plugged in for the here and now. Having an occupation or major that is mentally demanding can help you keep your brain at its best, but you can also fill in the gaps with relevant extracurricular activities to build up your brain fitness. Hobbies such as reading, playing cards and doing crossword puzzles are all mentally stimulating and can help.
The power that these hobbies have in delaying the onset or slowing the progression of brain diseases tends to be proportional to the time spent engaging in the activities themselves, which means that the more Scrabble you play, the more mentally fit your brain will be. Of course, there’s moderation in all things. If you spend 18 hours a day on brain games rather than going to work, taking care of needs and engaging with your loved ones, your memory improvement may not be so valuable when you’ve run out of cash, groceries and friends.
If you’re among the segment of the population that hates games and can’t stomach the idea of spending some free time filling out a crossword puzzle, don’t give up on the idea of mental fitness. Challenging your brain to learn anything new can be a good way of keeping your brain in tip-top shape. Whether you’re interested in something like learning a foreign language or how to knit, pursuing anything that makes you turn your brain on can help improve your memory.
3. Keep your body moving
Physical activity helps the functioning of your brain by enhancing blood flow and nerve cell formation. Getting exercise in also builds your overall health, which has a positive influence on your body’s ability to devote resources and energy into remembering what you want. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that aerobic exercise at any age can improve cognitive functioning and help participants perform better on memory tests.
Even if you don’t have time to hit the gym for two hours everyday, you can still benefit from putting effort into some sort of regular exercise program, squeezing in twenty-minute walking sessions during your lunch break or after work a few times a week. You don’t have to work up a full sweat, but get your heart rate up and body in motion. Your brain and your body will love you for the effort.
4. Eat healthful, nutrient-rich foods
Studies have shown that eating a healthy diet may be able to lower the risk of developing brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. An eating regimen that focuses on fruits, vegetables and protein sources like nuts with moderate additions of fish, dairy and poultry can even help prolong life in individuals that already have dementia. For your mental health, avoid smoking, alcohol and too much caffeine.
Along with your healthful diet, keep your body physically well by getting enough rest and dealing with stress properly by addressing tough situations head on. Cultivate a positive mental attitude. Don’t let worries linger and don’t focus your mind on things too far ahead of you as it creates anxiety. Anxiety can disturb your ability to remember in the short run and severe stress can have long-term effects regarding memory impairment.
What are your techniques for improving memory?