How many times have you walked into a room with zero recollection of what you wanted? Forgotten a deadline or the name of a person you just met? The truth is, we could all use tips to boost our memories – because we’re living in times when we process a lot at the same time.
While certain aspects of our memory are directly associated with the physiology of the brain and genetics, there are also facets of memory that can be learned and improved like a skill. That is what we are going to focus on. The right kind of exercise, diet, and practice will surely help you boost your memory in the long term.
- 1. Pay attention. Practice mindfulness. Actively attend to what you are doing, whether it is studying, working or doing laundry. Notice where you put away your keys and cell phones. Take some time away from the distractions and work consciously. Slowly, your long and short term memory will improve.
- 2. Organise and make clusters. Use Google calendars, reminders, post-its, whatever helps you to keep your task and your day organised. When you are studying, try grouping similar or related concepts together and make an outline to help you remember better.
- 3. Avoid cramming. Particularly from a studying point of view, regularly repeated studying gives you adequate time to process all the information. In contrast, last minute cramming will allow information to remain short term which will soon be forgotten.
- 4. Learn new things. The brain at the end of the day is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Keeping your brain active with a new skill will take your full attention and strengthen your brain’s memory capacity.
- 5. Give time to revise. Repetition and revision reinforce the connection between neurons and aid in the formation of long-term memory. So, repeat what you have learnt, read out loud, teach it to others and test yourself. Practicing revising and retrieving data will help in forming long-term memories.
- 6. Mnemonics work. It is a technique to help remember. You can either make an abbreviation or associate a difficult concept to a simpler term or a drawing. For example, we remember the word VIBGYOR to recall the colours of the rainbow: Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red.
- 7. Use mind maps and mind palaces. Either physically or in your mind, build maps or routes that will help you store data that is organised. You visualise something familiar and associate it with different bits of information. You recall them as you journey through the different parts of the palace. Another way to improve your memory is to use all your senses. You relate data to colours, smells, or even sounds to help you remember.
- 8. Don’t Google right away. While Google can be of immense help, it also has the side effect of making our brains lazy. Try to associate and retrieve information on your own before you say “Ok Google”. Similarly, your spatial memory can be improved if you reduce your GPS usage. Let’s say you reach a place using GPS. Try getting back on your own without blindly following the GPS’s instructions.
- 9. Cut back on sugar. Eat healthily. Be healthy. Research shows that sugar and fat can impair memory. Plant-based food, leafy vegetables, berries, white meat, fish, and whole grains have properties that can improve memory. Keep yourself hydrated and exercise regularly. It improves oxygen flow through the body and the brain.
- 10. Manage your stress. Lastly, while it is important to keep yourself busy and learn new things, it is also equally essential to manage your stress. When stressed, the brain goes into fight or flight mode, affecting your ability to make or recall long-term memory. So take some time to meditate or go for a stroll or play with your pet, anything that will also help your brain relax.
The bottom line is that your memory is also a skill that you can work on and improve.