Memory. We rely on it all day, everyday! But how many times have you walked into a room and thought “now what was I going to do?” Ugh! So frustrating! Our memory is dependent on a number of factors such as our brain health, diet, exercise, circadian cycle, and overall lifestyle. But did you also know that there are ways for us to improve our memory at any age? Keep reading for 10 quick tips to boost your memory power!
Tip 1: Never Stop Learning
Think of your brain as a muscle and to keep that muscle healthy, we need to use it! By learning new things, we are stimulating the brain and keeping it active! This can be as simple as reading a book, listening to a podcast, or trying a new hobby! Learning comes in many forms and uses all of our senses! This stimulates every part of our brain. Plus, it makes us interesting conversationalists!
Tip 2: Teach It
Research suggests that reading materials out loud significantly improves your memory of the material. Educators and psychologists have also discovered that having students actually teach new concepts to others enhances understanding and recall. You can use this approach in your own studies by teaching new concepts and information to a friend or study partner.
When I was in college, I used to take my notes and “teach” to the wall. This technique works well to solidify information because you hear yourself speak the information out loud and identify missing pieces.
As you learn something to teach it, you will make sure that you understand the concept thoroughly to be able to explain it to your student, child, or friend! This also helps you to convert short term information into long term memories that you can retain.
Tip 3: Use all 5 Senses
Any idea or concept that you are trying to learn and remember is much easier to grasp if you use your 5 senses! Do you love to travel? Plan a trip and make a point to incorporate learning something new!
Visualize and Listen: Look at photos or watch videos. Read out loud. Make flash cards.
Taste and Smell: Sip mint tea or smell peppermint to keep you alert. Eat foods from the culture you are learning about. Smell new spices and flavors.
Touch and Experience: Walk to monuments or memorials related to what you are learning about. Make a project specific to your topic, such as a 3D model or a photo book to trigger memories.
By using your senses, you are able to study something for a longer period of time! And bits of information related to each sense can trigger a memory down the road.
Tip 4: Pay Attention
You’d be surprised as to how much you can remember just by paying attention! Keep distractions to a minimum. Make sure you are taking the time to focus, listen, and process the information that you are receiving. This is how our body takes short term memories and turns them into long term memories.
Attention is what triggers that memory storage because it is our way of signaling to the brain “hey–this is important!” Turn off the TV, cell phone, external noise or any other distractions for the best results in the shortest amount of time.
Tip 5: Relate it to things you Already Know
Make mental connections between concepts, events, or mental states that you already know about! Think of this as your knowledge “tree” then add additional bits of information like the “leaves on a branch.” This creates a relationship between the original information and the new details, making learning so much easier!
Memory seems to operate as a sequence of associations: concepts, words, and opinions are intertwined and can reveal a flood of memories by a simple trigger.
Tip 6: Create Mnemonics or Rhymes
You may have heard the popular phrase “My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets” to remember the names of 9 planets in the solar system. The initial letter of every word in this sentence stands for the initials of every planet.
The best mnemonics are those that utilize positive imagery, humor, or novelty. You might come up with a rhyme, song, or joke to help remember a specific segment of information. These can be simple, fun, and very helpful for learning and retaining new information!
Tip 7: Link It to Music
This technique works very well. When you’re learning or memorizing anything, think of a tune you can easily remember and change the lyrics to include the information that you need to learn!
You can listen to popular lyric-adjusted songs on YouTube, such as “The Periodic Table Song” or “The Presidents Song” if you need some ideas!
When you need to recollect this information, simply go through the lyrics of the song and you will have remembered it in no time.
Tip 8: Repeat and Repeat
Memory enhancement only gets better with practice. When you learn these tips, put them to use as much as you can. This way your mind will get subjected to enough practice leading to better chances of remembering things later on.
Avoid cramming. Review information over time, review it daily, add more details slowly and your retention will be so much greater! This also allows for learning in a less stressful environment and helps to make learning fun.
Tip 9: Move locations
When you have information to remember, try breaking it into smaller details. Then take those details and learn them in different rooms or attach those details to different objects. I’ll give you an example from my own life!
To this day, I still remember every word of the preamble to the constitution. This was taught to me 30 years ago by my 4th grade history teacher. This is the way he taught us:
- We all stood up at our desks and identified different objects in the classroom
- Our teacher assigned a few lines to each object. We would say those lines slowly along with him. Nothing written down.
- We recited this every morning for 1 week, no more than 10 minutes each day. He would point to the object, we would say the lines, then point to the next object, etc!
- When the test was given on Friday, every single student got 100%.
Tip 10: Play Brain Games
Playing logical and brain games help sharpen your mind and keep it active. It enables you to look at ideas and concepts from a different perspective which paves way for a better and stronger memory in the long run.
Try Sudoku, crossword puzzles, word searches, chess (or other strategy games), or even apps! There are TV shows such as “Brain Games” or “The Idiot test” that you can watch that helps you think “outside the box” as well and sharpen new skills!
Long term Considerations to help Brain Health
- STRESS:Be conscious of stress and try to minimize its effects on your body
- SLEEP: Researchers have long known that sleep is important for memory and learning. Research has shown that taking a nap after you learn something new can actually help you learn faster and remember better.
- MEDITATION: Mediation works wonders in improving your memory and calming your senses.
- AVOID ALCOHOL & NICOTINE: These can cause dehydration and constriction of small vessels in your brain that can decrease brain health and blood supply
- DIET: Have a diet sufficient in protein, iron, anti-inflammatory foods, and omega 3 for good brain health. Try to avoid sugar and carbohydrates due to the “sluggish” effect it has on your body
- WATER: Drink plenty of water: half of your body weight in ounces of water within 24 hours each day!
- MOVEMENT: Subject your body to physical exercises regularly. Jogging or brisk walking works well for a start.
I collect memories. I look for opportunities to try new things, go to new places, and meet new people all the time.Marcel Wanders
Working on your memory is fun and easy. As with most things, a slow approach with small changes make a huge impact over time. You need to give yourself practice and patience in order to get there!