Memory enhancement is important for three things: productivity, personal growth and prevention. Whether you’re working on growing your business or career, leveling up your life or staying ahead of future health problems, the simple memory enhancement methods in this article could make or break your efforts.
If you look into memory enhancement just a little, you’ll see there are different categories you can focus on.
In this article we will look at three categories: nutrition (what we put in our bodies), physical (what we do with our bodies), and mental (tools and hacks we can use to train our brains).
For many, what we put in our face goes widely unchecked. If we do filter what we eat or drink, it is usually about losing weight, but much of our nutrition impacts our brain, which impacts our recall.
At work, your brain is a huge asset. Whether you’re sharp or fuzzy mentally will impact your productivity. Memory enhancement gives you a smoother track to run on as you tackle big projects for your company.
The first ingredient in memory enhancement, nutritionally, is water. Drinking more water is such a common problem that they make apps just to help you track your water intake.
Many scold themselves knowing, in a general sense, they should drink more water because it’s good for you, but when it comes to memory enhancement, there are specific benefits to drinking more water.
While the body is made up of 60% water, the brain is made up of 73% water. A study conducted by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “drinking water improved memory and focused attention”.
For me, I drink more water from a water bottle. Without my water bottle, my water intake drops by more than half. Once you find the way you drink the most water, bring that method with you throughout your day and even to bed so that it’s ready for you first thing the next morning.
Just like water, fats also make up a large portion of our brain. Fats feed our brain slow burning energy that allow it to function at optimum levels. For memory enhancement, finding the proper balance of good fat, alongside fruits and vegetables, in your diet makes a difference.
An article by Harvard Health Publishing found “polyunsaturated fats may be the heroes in the dietary battle to preserve memory.” These fats can be found in nuts, olive oil, and fish.
This doesn’t mean that you have to chug a gallon of fish oil to get your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids. You can start simply by reorganizing what you eat and observe the mental clarity you find. Instead of carbs for breakfast, just add in some eggs. Instead of a refined sugar snack in the afternoon, substitute it with a handful of nuts.
You don’t have to go to the extremes; just begin playing with the sequence of your food throughout the day and find where your mind most benefits from more fats.
Enhancing your memory can also happen through supplements, such as fish oil supplements. The supplement industry is huge, and there are many claims about improved cognitive function that aren’t founded in clinical studies.
If supplements are interesting to you for memory enhancement, the best course of action is to research your options. Look for blind and double blind studies if you want supplements with measured, unbiased results.
As with any of these methods, always research and test to see what works best for you.
4. Intermittent Fasting
On the rise in the last several years is intermittent fasting. Common in the weight loss space, intermittent fasting has also shown benefits for brain and body chemistry.
Intermittent fasting can be done multiple ways. One of the most common protocols is to fast for 16 hours, then consuming your normal amount of daily calories in an 8 hour feeding window.
Many report mental clarity from intermittent fasting, and studies show why the brain works well in a fasted state. With the benefit of increased growth hormone and the healing effects of intermittent fasting, it’s worth a go for improved mental capacity.
In extremes, it’s easy to see that with sleep deprivation your memory suffers dramatically. However, with our busy lives, many of us don’t think about sleep as a bridge to memory enhancement.
A study by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found “a good night’s sleep triggers changes in the brain that help to improve memory”.
If you have trouble getting to sleep, here are some helpful tips for better sleep:
- Turn off your devices an hour before bed
- Meditate for 10 minutes prior to sleep
- Eliminate alcohol or caffeine before bed
- Try a natural supplement like Melatonin
- Take up this night routine to get better rest at night
Getting enough sleep is an easy path to proper brain function and helps limit cognitive decline and memory loss. If you’re not getting enough sleep, the hardest part may be challenging your patterns or limiting beliefs that are keeping you from the sleep you need.
Exercise is great for brain health. In one study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
Exercise can be as simple as a 10 minute walk or even 5 minutes of stretching. The focus here is that as you activate your body, you activate your mind.
If you don’t currently exercise, start small and work your way up. Here are 5 ways to help you make time for exercise.
If you exercise a lot, find ways to bring mindfulness into your physical activity for memory enhancement.
Massage is a bridge to mindfulness. Time stands still, your body relaxes, and your brain opens up to its potential.
Many times, what impedes our memory and cognitive function is the busyness of life. We have too many tasks on our to do lists. Our patterns of life have left little to no margin of time and space for our minds to relax. This is an impossible environment we’ve put our minds in.
Massage can be a great interruption for the chaotic chatter in our minds, creating an environment for the brain to breathe while enhancing our memory.
Similar to massage, meditation allows our brain to breathe and calm the chaotic chatter.
An advantage to meditation over massage is how quickly we can access a calmer mind. However, while many often say they want to do meditation, it’s hard for them to still their mind and relax into the quietness meditation can provide.
Meditation, in its simplest form, is simply breathing. You don’t need special phrases or to sit in certain positions.
To get started, just sit in a comfortable position and breath deeply for as little as five minutes. Thoughts will come and go. Just bring yourself back to focusing on your breathing.
You can also have a try with this 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime.
As you do this daily, you’ll begin to notice how refreshed you feel in such a short amount of time.
Often used to improve workflow, batching refers to doing similar tasks in consolidated blocks of time. For example, rather than checking email throughout the day, you would check email once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
You can see how limiting the distractions can create an environment for your brain to focus on what’s at hand.
In one study, researchers found that it takes the average brain over 20 minutes to refocus after an interruption. More important still, they found that a new interruption happens every 11 minutes, causing your brain to never fully catch up. This fatigues your brain and impairs your memory.
With batching, you’re simply reducing the amount of interruptions your brain has to manage, making it available for the work you want it to do.
Brain games can keep the mind sharp. Whether you play on paper or in an app, memory games can be fun.
There is a debate about whether games like crossword puzzles actually enhance your memory, but research is emerging that shows “brain training” is an effective solution.
Like growing muscles, when you push your brain beyond its current abilities, you force it to grow. When used to push your brain to the next level, brain games are a great way to enhance your mind.
Similar to games, apps are great trainers of the mind. There are a large selection of apps specific for memory enhancement and exercising your brain.
Picked by Medical News Today out of hundreds of brain training apps, here are their top 5 apps for brain training:
You can also check out more brain training apps here to train your mind and improve memory.
At different price points, you’ll want to find one that works best for you. If you’re busy, apps may be a great solution during small waiting periods in your day.
12. Mnemonic Devices
The imagination is a powerful tool. Mnemonic devices use word play to make it easier to remember things like names and lists.
Popular types of mnemonics include: Music, rhyme, expression/word, connection, spelling, and image.
Here’s an example of an image mnemonic device that can be used for immediate recall:
Using numbers 1 to 10 you find a rhyming word with each number and then place the item you want to remember into the image you created in your head.
Our example will be for a grocery list, but you could use this for names, birthdays, work projects, or tests:
One rhymes with run. So I picture a horse track with a horse running on the track. The first item on my grocery list is olives so I put a human size can of olives on the saddle of the horse running.
It’s important that you make the items in these visualizations memorable, like a human size can of olives on top of a horse.
Common rhyming words for this particular mnemonic device are:
- One, run
- Two, zoo
- Three, tree
- Four, door
- Five, hive
If you have 20 things to remember, you can begin to use colors to separate the groups of ten. For example, if I have 20 things on my grocery list, then the first 10 visualizations can be in red and the second, using the same rhyming words, can be in yellow.
Try this out and you’ll see how quickly this works. The mind is powerful, especially when we use images and pictures that tell stories. Mnemonic devices are simply hacks that use images and pictures that tell us stories that are easy to remember.
It’s time to make this article actionable. You have many options when it comes to memory enhancement. The real trick now is to pick one.
Looking at your current goals in productivity, personal growth and prevention, you can narrow your focus to the methods that best support those goals.
Go back through this article and find three to five methods that interest you the most. Then, look at your schedule and decide how you will add these methods to your daily and weekly routines to improve the environment of your brain.
With all the tools and research, there has never been a better time in history to train our brains. Your path to enhanced memory is now in your hands.
More on Memory Enhancement
- How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter
- 11 Tactics on Increasing Brain Power, Memory, and Motivation
- How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways
- 13 Little-Known Memory Tricks To Help You Remember Anything Easily
Featured photo credit: Tamarcus Brown via unsplash.com
|||^||The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Minor degree of hypohydration adversely influences cognition: a mediator analysis|
|||^||Harvard Health: Boost your memory by eating right|
|||^||University of Michigan: A Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting|
|||^||Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: Study Shows How Sleep Improves Memory|
|||^||Harvard Health: Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills|
|||^||Todoist: Time Blocking|
|||^||Gloria Mark: The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress|
|||^||Medical News Today: Five of the best apps to train your brain|