We all have our days of forgetfulness, but sometimes a bad memory can become frustrating, especially when key dates and important notices are forgotten.
Instead of just playing memory-promoting video games, there are also plenty of other everyday non-intrusive things that can be done to help improve that memory of yours.
Here are 12 simple ways to improve your memory:
1. Look At Nature
Whilst walking through nature may be more beneficial, there are also benefits to be had in just looking at images of nature. The process allows for your mind to de-clutter, which then helps with memory storage and processing, allowing for improved memory recall.
Whilst we spend time focusing on our ab crunches, we rarely think about the benefits we are receiving on a cognitive level when it comes to exercise.
Studies have found that running increases levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supports the health of current and existing neurons, whilst also helping with the creation of new cells.
Weight lifting has been shown to increase levels of a protein known as insulin-like growth factor, which also promotes cell division and growth. It is also thought to help fragile new-born neurons survive their early stages.
Now you’ve got a double reason to hit the gym tomorrow!
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) consists of four stages that help, in part, with the active state your body goes through during sleep:
- Stage 1 – Your eyes are closed but you can be easily awoken.
- Stage 2 – Light sleep that is accompanied by positive and negative waves, which represent muscle tone and muscle relaxation periods.
- Stage 3 and 4 – Deep sleep stages, also known as deep-wave, or delta sleep.
The whole REM cycle is designed to regenerate tissue and strengthen the immune system. However, on a cognitive level the process is vital for the storage of information in the long-term memory.
A key factor with REM sleep is that it also places a bias on the information that caused more stress or has been repeated several times throughout the day. A key example would be the practice of a sport. If a move is repeated over and over again, a little of it goes into muscle memory during the event. The majority of the muscle memory is completed during REM sleep.
4. Chew Gum
Whilst chewing gum doesn’t directly improve your memory, it does help your ability to focus and ultimately retain extra information.
Chewing gum has been known to boost mental alertness by 10% within individuals, which could be incredibly beneficial during a study session or lecture.
What exercise does to our body, music does to our brains. Music “tones” the brain for auditory fitness. Music training tends to give you the ability to assess the relevance and predictability of an auditory signal, and this also includes speech. Because of this musicians have the ability to remember more auditory content.
This is actually one of the secret methods that many of the World Champions of Memory use when attempting to memorize a deck of shuffled cards.
By simply associating key information with a memorable feature, person, action or color, you can begin to use memory recall for the memorable item, which then leads to the visualization of what it is you’re trying to remember.
This should be considered in much the same way as chewing gum: whilst it doesn’t directly influence memory or storage, it does help to make your mind stop wandering away from the primary task.
Even though an experiment that was conducted didn’t have any final, conclusive evidence, it did show that doodlers have 30% improved memory recall.
8. Drink Green Tea
Due to its key ingredient, an organic molecule called EGCG (an anti-oxidant that helps to combat age-related, degenerative illnesses), green tea has become a recommended beverage that people should consume multiple times a day.
For the full benefits of the anti-aging anti-oxidants, matcha tea, which is the full green tea leaf ground into a powder, contains 137 times more anti-oxidants than regular green tea and should also be considered as part of a daily diet.
9. Seek Help
The biggest strain on our cognitive functions are life stresses, including anxiety and anger. Both of these can cause the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory to degenerate. Another key problem that originates from these stresses is depression, which can sometimes be misdiagnosed since one of its symptoms is also an inability to concentrate.
If you can find the source of your problems now and work to resolve them, you’ll be saving your cognitive functions long-term, as years down the track these stresses can have profound effects.
10. Stand Up
Ensure that you’re getting up and moving around throughout the day, especially whilst at work. Our bodies need oxygen to circulate through them to deliver our energy; however, when you’re in a seated position your body goes into a resting period. Our brain will go into momentary lapses of concentration after prolonged periods of sitting down.
11. Study Sessions
Rather than going into a marathon library session, it has been shown that by regularly studying in small chunks that include rest, people were able to remember more and also had improved memory recall.
Because the sessions are short and regular you then have the time to store and process the information during break periods. Long sessions with no rest don’t allow for proper memory process.
12. Learn Before Bedtime
The day has its distractions, and it tends to make learning and concentration an incredibly difficult task. However, if you fit in a study session or learning session right before bedtime, you’re unlikely to become distracted by everyday occurrences.
Memories are something that many of us fear losing: traditional family recipes or the first time you went out on a date: Understanding Sleep: How to Improve Your MemoryFeatured photo credit: Natural Boke on a Red gradient backgroundvia Shutterstock