“Memory is man's greatest friend and worst enemy.” - Gilbert Parker (British politician)
A good memory and organized routine go hand in hand. This helps bring clarity to your life and help you achieve your goals without forgetting things. To those who feel this is easier said than done, take a look at the infographic below to discover 11 great ways to improve your memory:
The benefits of learning music go beyond the auditory processing in the brain and extend to other areas. Such skills are transferred to working memory. If you don’t want to learn music, let’s take listening to music, like we do every day. By learning the lyrics, we automatically boost our levels of the brain-building chemical: acetylcholine.
2. Write things down:
Much of history has been recorded in writing, even though there are vocal forms of it passed down through the ages. This is because it’s easier to remember, and it doesn't change with time, unlike verbal tradition. This is the whole idea of taking notes in class. Here are some relatable reasons to physically write things down on pen and paper:
Writing helps bring your dreams a bit closer to reality.
Checklists will help you prioritize. This especially helps when you’re out shopping.
Writing things slows down the march of time (atleast for your brain).
3. Make sure you do physical exercise:
It doesn't matter what kind of physical exercise you do, just get moving! There’s a lot of research that’s been done on this topic. One such paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The main takeaway is this: even 10-minute installments of gentle exercise trigger the part of the brain responsible for memory: the hippocampus.
4.Train Your Brain
Like the rest of our body, the brain needs fitness training too! When done right, brain training exercises can exercise the following main cognitive functions:
Things you can do to improve your brain include:
Focus on one new activity, as opposed to many, and devote your time and attention to it.
Sign up for a fun class, like painting or cooking.
Schedule time for practice.
The ideal activity should be:
Challenging to your brain
Complex but interesting (digital photography)
Practice (Keep working at your hobby to get more benefit from it)
5. Sharing is caring!
While reading is good for your brain, you can take the benefits to the next level by reading or studying aloud. Indeed, researchers have found it more efficient for students to read aloud than read silently. You can improve on this concept by teaching something to someone else, or reading it aloud to someone else. This reinforces the concept in our minds. Also, reading something out loud to someone else, and this is likely to inspire comment or discussion.
If meditation sounds too new-agey for you, remember that scientists have been taking a good look at it as a cure and remedy for certain conditions.
Done regularly and with the proper technique, meditation can enhance the size of the cerebral cortex, which is in charge of higher mental tasks including learning, memory, concentration. A study done by the University of Pennsylvania confirms this.
7. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Stress is bad, chronic stress is worse. Researchers from the University of Iowa have linked the release of stress hormone cortisol to reducing synapses, in effect, rendering short-term memory less effective. This is true for lower levels of anxiety.
High-stress situations interestingly enough increase the ability of white matter in the brain to send messages, though a lot of neurons die in the process. Such an imbalance can result in the development of mental illness, and conditions such as schizophrenia, chronic depression, and bipolar disorder.
So, to prolong the life of your brain and memory, control stress by:
Engaging in activities that make you feel good and automatically reduce your stress, such as massage. Yoga, reading or a walk in nature.
8. Take your Vitamin D:
While the information to do with Vitamin D mainly concerns bone development, its deficiency has been found to cause a whole host of diseases. It controls Calcium levels in the blood. Calcium doesn't just affect the bones. It extends to brain cells, which are therefore affected by Vitamin D levels. Brain cells die all the time. Symptoms of memory loss could occur as early as in your 30s. Though it could be attributed to a large number of factors, maintaining healthy Vitamin D levels, could help to reduce the deterioration of your brain function and memory over time.
9. Eat properly- do it for your brain!
There a lot of diets in the news these days, from LCHF, to paleo, to keto, to vegan, to pescatarian, and so on. It wouldn't be wrong to say that people are more aware of what they eat nowadays, especially since food can directly impact your health.
According to research done, a brain-friendly diet would include less LDL (bad) cholesterol and trans fats. They combine to form sticky plaque in the beta-amyloid plaque: sticky protein clusters in the brain that could cause Alzheimer’s.
In addition, you could be doing your brain a favor by maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels and keeping a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index).
Examples of brain-friendly food include:
Extra virgin olive oil, salmon, avocados, egg yolks, beets, coconut oil, blueberries, bone broth, broccoli, celery, dark chocolate.
10. Make sure you get enough sleep:
Sleep is essential for the brain to review and reinforce concepts learned through the day. The better you rest, the better your memory.
In a research paper entitled: “Sleep promotes the branch-specific formation of dendritic spines”(published in Science. 2014 June 6; 344(6188): 1173–1178. doi:10.1126/science.1249098.), sleep is essential for memory and learning. During sleep, neurons involved with waking experiences and memory storage, are revived.
Sleep-deprived mice saw less recall after a learning task than mice that received adequate sleep. An exciting development is that scientists have found that, in certain cases, the brain is capable of learning new information as we sleep.
11. Plan and strategise:
Add some variety to your routine, change your reading places, read at different times, review after reading.
Spend more time and effort on information that is hard to process.
Try to relate new information to existing information that you already know.\
Use various colors, flashcards, and anything you need to get your attention, to make remembering things easy.
Mnemonics such as making words out of the first letters of the components of lists can make memorizing things much easier.
If you have a lot of material to memorize, try to take little breaks to refresh your mind, before you get back to another session.
There are many great ways to improve your memory. This article just covers eleven of them. If you haven't already embraced these habits, do give them a try. Your brain will thank you for it.