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5 important things to do every day to improve your memory

5 important things to do every day to improve your memory

Aren’t you forgetting something?

For the most part of my life, I have always maintained a pretty good memory.

Because I was such a planner in my younger years, it carried over into my parenting days as well.

When my three sons became active in school plays, athletic contests, and presentations, I needed a system to help me keep track of everything. Twenty-five years ago, we didn’t have notifications or online calendars to remind us of something we needed to do.

No, we did things the old fashioned way…we wrote things down on a calendar.

Every year, I would receive two — one for my desk at work and the other one I hung on the wall at home. The day after Christmas, I would update both of them with as much information as I knew at that time.

Then, I took it a step further…

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I highlighted each event with a different color highlighter. Each member of the family was assigned a color and it made it easy looking at the calendar to see who had conflicts and where my husband and I would need to “divide and conquer.”

For example, the boys played select baseball and on any given year, each boy would have at least 40-50 games a piece between April and July. Oh, and my husband coached all of them over 17 years.

We don’t choose to forget

In today’s busy world, we are bound to forget something.

My best friend has a hard time remembering things and perhaps some of you can relate.

Like you, she is always thinking.

Technology has forced our brains into “overload” with all of this information at our fingertips through the applications on our smart phones and the ever present Google.

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Some of our retention ability may stem from our never-ending stimulus that surrounds us every day.

I’ll admit it, my phone is never off — even when it is next to my bed. (However, I do choose to leave it at home on occasion.)

So why are some of us better at remembering things while others of us are not?

Some might suggest that owning your own business requires so much of you — because you have to know and do everything, you simply remember everything.

Okay…that’s not it. My best friend owns her own business,

Others might suggest that we don’t get enough sleep.

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That could be, but she is tired most of the time.

As we get older, our brains will get more and more tired.

Eventually, we will forget a few things.

However, in the meantime, let’s start doing these 5 things now!

1. Make a routine

When we keep a schedule, we have less to remember. Our bodies and minds are on “auto-pilot” and do things because of muscle memory. Maybe that routine is as simple as getting up at the same time every day. Over time, our bodies will learn to wake up at the same time and we will not feel so groggy each morning. In addition, incorporate a routine into your daily life as much as possible. Creating habits that you follow every day can be difficult at first, but eventually, you’ll need to remember less. Completing familiar tasks every day become cemented into our minds, allowing space for new information to find its way in.

2. Play memory games

Every morning, I play two games, both of which are kind of like “Where’s Waldo?”, but in a mystery type theme. Different locations become available the more I play. I move onto different levels based on the success I have in finding all of the objects in the quickest time in the early levels. Over time, not only do I recall the different information shared with me on each level, but my finding these objects increases too. The objects (their colors, shapes, past locations) become almost certain to where I will find them next in future levels. The games teach me to play them better based on my past experiences with the game, creating a learning atmosphere I otherwise would not have obtained.

3. Laugh out loud

Life can be pretty serious most days. With deadlines to meet and places to be, we are so focused on getting things done that we don’t take time to laugh out loud. It has been proven that laughter reduces our stress level and releases chemicals in our bodies that make us feel good. Simple joys and funny things happen all the time, but we miss them too often. A simple giggle (even with something you did) can immediately take our mind off of something. That may not seem like a good thing, but in the end, we will be able to get back on track with what needs done. Life should never be taken so seriously that we don’t laugh at least one a day. (Permission granted.)

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4. Write things down

Remember the calendar I mentioned earlier? Here is where that comes in along with the never-ending “to-do” lists. I am old-fashioned and believe in the power of the pen and paper (when not available, I will use my smart phone). Writing it down releases it from your mind and puts it somewhere you can see it. Writing things down can also keep your hard-earned money in your wallet as well. For example, it has been said that people who take a list with them to do their grocery shopping tend to spend less money. Side note: Choose designated areas for these “lists” so you don’t need to remember where they are…

5. Exercise

Just like laughing, doing something with our muscles is good for our body in many different ways. Whether our form of exercise is getting on a treadmill at 5 am or doing some boxing in a ring, giving our body a good workout is beneficial to our muscle growth and health maintenance. Our minds need to be challenged as much as our bodies do and staying fit allows things to work more smoothly. Even if you are not out to run a marathon or become the strongest man/woman on earth, getting a regular dose of exercise will not only keep your body fit, it will tidy up your mind as well.

So, let’s work smarter

No doubt life will just get more complicated as we move through it. With more and more information trying to vie for the amount of limited space we have in our brains, we will forget things. Some of these things will be irrelevant while others might be more important.

Life is hard enough as it is, so let’s find ways to “hack” it and become better in the process.

In the meantime, take some of these helpful hints and apply them to your everyday life.

You just might be surprised at what you remember.

I know my best friend might be too.

Featured photo credit: Priscilla via unsplash.com

More by this author

Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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