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5 important things to do every day to improve your memory

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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.

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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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