How to Improve Memory
The following are ten quick tips on how to improve your memory.
In addition, here is one more tip for making these techniques
second nature: teach them to others. When we teach we set our
knowledge more firmly in our brains.
1. Use Repetition - Repeating to yourself the thing
you want to remember may be simple, but it really does work.
Repeat a phone number several times, for example, and you should
remember it for a short while. This works even better if you
"sing" it in your mind to engage other parts of the
brain. To remember things long-term, repeat or review them several
times upon learning them, then the next day, the day after that,
the next week and the week after that.
2. Write It Down - Let the paper remember for you.
The point is to have use of the information later, and if that's
more easily done by way of an "external memory device"
like pen and paper, why not take advantage of these tools? Also,
writing things down is another way to more strongly "fix"
something in our minds.
3. Get Help
If improving your memory and education is important to you,
consider enrolling in online courses.
4. Clear Your Mind - Sometimes to recall something
you just need to relax and empty your mind of all the other stuff
going on in there. Take three deep and slow breaths through your
nose and relax your muscles. Pay attention to the air moving
in and out of your nostrils. Afterward return to whatever it
is you need to recall or work on.
5. Feed Your Brain - This means feeding your body of
course. Your brain needs a lot of energy, and will generally
function better if you eat some good proteins and complex carbohydrates.
Trail mix, with nuts and dried fruit works well for some. Fish
has been shown to immediately speed up brain function, as well
as improve memory and other brain functions long-term improvement
if eaten regularly. Also, the distraction caused by hunger can
interfere with your concentration and ability to recall things.
6. Drink Enough Fluids - Dehydration is not always
recognized, and can both distract you in ways that get in the
way of clear thinking and memory, as well as more directly impacting
the functioning of the brain. You can experiment to see if this
is happening in your case. Just drink a glass of water and note
whether your mind seems to work better.
7. Exercise - Physical exercise has been shown to improve
brain function both immediately (after ten minutes on a treadmill,
for example), and long term. The short-term effect is because
of the immediate increase in blood flow and therefore oxygen
to the brain. The long-term improvement in memory and other brain
functions that come from regular exercise may also be due to
the physical improvement of the brain and body that comes from
this repeated increase in blood flow and oxygen.
8. Learn a Mnemonic Technique - There are many good
memory techniques for remembering names, numbers, lists of things
and more. A simple list of items can be "fixed" in
your memory, for example, by linking them together in a crazy
story that you visualize. You can find some of these techniques
(as well as other memory tips) covered here on the website and
in the Brainpower Newsletter.
9. Imagine the Use - If you think about how you will
use information, you're more likely to remember it. For example
if after learning a new algorithm in a math class you imagine
using it during a test, you'll probably remember it better -
particularly when taking a test. Imagine meeting someone again
in the future and using his name, and you'll likely recall it
when that does happen.
10. Avoid Toxins - Smoking is the obvious one here.
Although it may actually help a person concentrate in the short-term,
the damage smoking does may later hurt brain function in general,
including memory. Many prescription drugs and of course illegal
drugs can also have a negative effect.
11. Reduce Stress - When you're stressed, your body
releases cortisol, which at high levels interferes with the part
of the brain that handles recent memories. Chronic stress has
even been shown to cause brain shrinkage. Meditate or do other
self-work to learn how not to be stressed out. This may be the
most important of these tips on how to improve your recall. It's
not only good for the brain but for your whole body and life