Tips To Improve Memory
“I don’t remember where I placed my phone. I don’t remember what I was saying just a minute ago. I don’t remember when the deadline was. I don’t remember…” Sounds familiar? You are not alone! It’s normal to experience bouts of forgetfulness every now and then, but there are ways to keep your memory and your brain sharp and clear. Read on the find out more!
Is your degree of forgetfulness ‘normal’?
As we get older we tend to worry about our memory and thinking abilities. It is normal for most of us to become rather more forgetful as we age, but if you think the frequency and extent of your memory lapse is a cause for concern do talk to your doctor for professional diagnosis and care. Here are ways you can differentiate:
|Forget to pay a bill once in a while||Forgetting to pay bills on a frequent basis as your mind struggles to keep track of due dates versus current date of the month|
|Forgetting which day it is and remembering shortly after||Losing track of the date or time of year|
|Sometimes forgetting which word to use||Having trouble holding a conversation as you struggle with remembering the words you want to use|
|Losing things from time to time||Misplacing things multiple times a day and being unable to find them even though you are sure you just left the item nearby a couple of minutes ago|
Now that we have established that everyone has their moments of forgetfulness from time to time, especially when life gets busy, we do understand that not being able to commit something to memory can also be very frustrating. Here are some tips that can sharpen your brain and help you remember things better!
Tips to improve your memory
1. Find your learning style
Everyone has a different style of learning. Constant repetition of writing things down is the most commonly used method to commit something to memory, but it might not be the most effective way. If plainly trying to write things down repeatedly doesn’t help, then try different methods. Whether it is visual, auditory or kinaesthetic, understanding your learning styles can help to remember information better. Using a combination of styles when learning something can also increase your memory as compared to learning something with just one sense.
2. Use your senses
Using your senses can help increase memory retention due to the power of association. For example, chewing a mint while trying to remember something might help associate the flavour with information. Spraying a unique perfume also can help bring back information you associate with the smell as your amygdala (region of brain responsible for smell function) is directly connect to the hippocampus (responsible for memory function) in your brain.
3. Write it down
Writing things down with pen and paper can help you remember more than typing with a laptop.1 This is because the process of writing allows you to process ideas for a longer period of time, allowing you to be able to fully absorb them. It is important to rephrase information in your own words to test your understanding and help you remember it better. Mind mapping is also great way to break down information into a simple diagram to be easily remembered.
4. Talk it out
Making a deliberate effort to verbally repeat a piece of information that you wish to commit to memory can be an effective way for some folks as it helps the brain to form 2 memory pathways to the information - both visual and auditory. The dual action of speaking and hearing yourself makes the spoken information more distinct than just reading it.2 For instance, by saying the person's name multiple times after you've been introduced can help you remember the person’s name better. Trying to teach the topic to someone else can also help you remember information better as it encourages you to work harder to understand the information better, recall it more accurately and apply it more effectively.
5. Use Mnemonic Devices
Mnemonic Devices are memory tools that help a person improve their ability to remember something. Some of the techniques you can use are:
- Acronyms: They are a word formed from the first letters in a name or phrase. For example, in music, students are taught to remember the notes of the treble staff (EGBDF) by using Every Good Boy Does Fine
- Rhymes: Rhymes help our brains encode words easily by remembering its sound structure. For example, you can remember a person’s name by rhyming it with a verb, ‘Shirley’s hair is curly’
- Chunking: A simple way of breaking down large pieces of information into smaller chunks. For example, it is easier to remember someone’s phone number by breaking it down to 2 chunks of 4 numbers.
- Imagery: Our brains encode visual memories differently than words, making it easier and quicker to remember visuals. By recalling specific imagery, we can recall information associated with that imagery.
6. Train your brain
Similar to the muscles in our body, our brain also needs regular use to stay healthy. Exercising your cognitive skills by playing brain games is a fun and effective way to boost your memory and sharpen your brain. Hopping on to the internet’s latest favourite word game Wordle, or playing old school games like crosswords, Sudoku or Tetris can help improve memory, reasoning, and attention skills.3
7. Take occasional breaks
This might seem counterintuitive but taking breaks in between memorising information is important in memory and learning. Taking short breaks gives your mind and body the much-needed time to relax and consolidate the information that it has taken in. 4 Take few minutes to talk to friends or do something you enjoy, anything that enables you to shake any stress off. This helps you to come back to the information with a fresh outlook and can increase your productivity and creativity. It also gives your brain the much-needed processing time and keep exhaustion at bay.
8. Get enough sleep
Studies have consistently associated sufficient sleep with better memory performance. Sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation, where the brain organises and consolidates short-term memory and transforms them to long lasting memories.5 Ensuring that you get a full night’s rest of 7-9 hours a night is therefore important to keep you brain working at its peak.
Exercise is not only important for your physical health but your mental health as well. Research has shown that regular exercise reduces the risk of cognitive decline with age and protects the brain against degeneration. Exercising improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to the body, and helps to create new cells in the brain which are essential for memory storage. Even moderate exercise such as brisk walking, badminton and aerobics has been shown to improve cognitive performance, across all age groups.7
10. Feed your brain right
The foods that you eat play a key role in keeping your brain healthy and can improve specific mental tasks, such as memory and concentration. Cut down on sugar, refined carbs and alcohol which have been associated with reduced cognitive function. Instead, incorporate anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, vegetables and tea in your diet as they help stimulate brain memory.8 Herbs like Ginkgo Biloba and omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA are also known to be natural brain boosters. To help achieve optimal brain function, opt for supplements like LAC Brainspeed PS which are specially formulated for peak mental performance. At the end of the day, improving your memory is a skill that takes practice and just like any skill, it takes consistent practice and healthy overall habits to be made perfect. Try adding these tips to your daily routine to boost your brain health and keep your memory in top condition.