Have you ever wondered how to improve your memory?
We’ve all had those moments where we’re standing by the refrigerator with the door open, gazing at it blankly as we forget exactly what we were hoping to find…
We all forget from time-to-time; it’s perfectly normal. Our memories naturally decline a little as we age. But it’s also possible to improve your memory at any age.
Here are my thoughts on what might just be the biggest memory booster, plus some other tips to help you remember.
How do our brains form memories?
All thoughts, including memories, are electrical and chemical signals between neurons. Making a new memory requires forming a new connection.
Memory creation and recall involves three phases:
- Encoding (learning new information)
- Storing (keeping the information)
- Retrieving (recalling the information correctly)
Various factors can affect any of these steps, which results in misremembering or forgetting.
Scientists believe that sensory input is essential in the encoding phase. If you think about how a smell or taste might evoke a strong memory, you probably will understand how vital sensory input is to this process.
One Surprisingly Simple Activity to Combat Memory Loss
In recent years, various studies point to the effectiveness of aerobic exercise for brain health, specifically memory.
But this doesn’t mean you need to go on a long run or hit the gym; just walking for 30 minutes a day can have a significant impact on memory formation and recall.
This makes sense. After all, if you think about our ancestors foraging for food, the ones who were able to pick up visual cues and remember them so that they could find their way home would have been more likely to survive.
So you don’t need to look too far if you’re wondering how to improve your memory — a simple stroll is a great start. But this is just one of many things you might want to try.
More Tips to Help Memory
Here are a few other things you can do to keep your brain healthy to retain necessary information.
Scientists have conducted multiple studies that support the theory that sleep is essential to cognition, concentration, and memory.
So most adults will benefit from about 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
But it’s also about the way we sleep. Getting a night of restful sleep is important, and napping — when done right — can help with cognition.
This short video explains how to make the most out of your next nap.
You may have had experience studying for a test and reading the same set of notes over and over again, trying to memorize. Repetition works, but for some, it works better if they’re addressing the same topic in a different way.
For example, if you read about an interesting movie online, see it with a friend and then have a discussion about it, you might be more likely to remember it than if you just read a single article.
The more often you repeat something, the more likely it will be to “stick” in your brain. So if you want to discover how to improve your memory, you might want to try repeating the same information through a variety of formats.
Writing with a pen stimulates the brain in a way that typing doesn’t, potentially leading to a better chance of memorization. This might be a good motivation for students who routinely use laptops to take notes in class.
Build a Memory Palace
A “memory palace” or “mind palace” is a way of visualizing a set of details. You tie those details to a place such as a house, where each item is placed in a different room. Then you will tie other concepts and ideas together in a quirky way that makes the visualizations memorable. Then you “walk” through the house and see each visual when you need to remember.
(This Smithsonian article explains the “mind palace” concept in more detail.)
Pay More Attention to Relevant Details
We are capable of retaining important information, but we need to essentially cue our brains to understand which information is most important.
If there is too much going on at once — for instance, if we’re constantly distracted by phone, or social media notifications — our brains can get overloaded.
Be aware if you’re feeling stressed or overloaded, and give your brain regular breaks throughout the day.
Even a 5-minute meditation may help clear clutter from your brain, help you concentrate better, and improve memory.
Connect with Me for More Brain Health Tips
There are so many things that we can do every day to improve our memory, concentration, mood, and overall health.
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