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Last Updated on August 21, 2020

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too! Learning how to improve memory isn’t as difficult as you might think.

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through social media is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective strategies on how to improve memory.

1. Get Your Body Moving

Physical activities don’t just exercise the body, but it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain, so when learning how to improve memory, exercise is king.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to regulate blood flow. Plaque buildup reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

One study in particular found that exercising 4 hours after learning significantly improved memory retention. The researchers suggested that “appropriately timed physical exercise can improve long-term memory and highlight the potential of exercise as an intervention in educational and clinical settings.”[1]

To improve your memory, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming, and dancing are all excellent activities.

If you have trouble finding time to fit in a workout, check out this article: 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors

Any risk factors that cause you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will, in time, begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed as a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

One study assessed memory in 3999 veterans and found that “depressive symptoms (without anxiety) had an adverse effect on immediate recall of new information and the total amount (but not rate) of acquisition.”[2]

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream, which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus, which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression and any stressors causing it—your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will help you in your task of learning how to improve memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information, especially during REM sleep[3].

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. On the contrary, sleep deprivation can put a huge dent in your ability to form memories.

Another helpful strategy is to take a nap during the day, especially after learning something new. This can also help you to retain those memories, as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer. However, the length of your nap is also very important. Scientists, in one study, found that people who napped for 30-90 minutes experienced better word recall[4].

This TED video explains how you can improve memory just by getting the right amount of sleep.

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4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages, and the quicker you can think.

This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting. Their brains need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating, even to the adult brain[5].

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel, and wild salmon) and dark, leafy green vegetables.

For more great brain food choices, check out this article.

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat, but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats first.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins, which help nerve cells burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage, and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed. If you want to learn how to improve memory, breakfast is incredibly important.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other, and one study found that HFCS can actually damage the brain by promoting brain insulin resistance[6].

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. Don’t skimp on this important meal!

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

Nowadays, it’s fairly uncommon to write down notes with a pen and paper. When we go to class or meetings, we take our laptops and use that to mark down important ideas. However, recent research has suggested that may be doing us more harm than good.

One 2014 study found that “even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing.”[7]

You can start a journal, write yourself emails, or even start keeping a blog. All of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information. Most importantly, if you’re going to class or to a big meeting, consider taking notes by hand instead of on your computer.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories. If you’re looking into learning how to improve memory, this can be a great thing to try.

Listening to music has been shown to specifically benefit the memorization of words. One study found that young adults who listened to music while memorizing a list of words, as opposed to listening to environmental sounds or silence, performed better when asked to recall the words[8].

Next time you have to memorize a speech of want to compete in a spelling bee, try listening to music while studying. You may be surprised by how much it helps.

8. Use Visualization

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

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Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

Another strong visualization technique for memory is the memory palace. This essentially involves imagining a place you know well (your house or a former school, for example), listing distinctive features of the place in your mind, and begin to associate those features with things you want to remember. Then, when you need to recall information, you simply go the specific room or object where you stored the information in your mind, and it will come to you.

For more information on how to build a memory palace, check out this article: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

One study pointed out that this increased memory specifically because it forced students to recall the information in order to teach it[9].

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read, or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, reading, or playing cards on a daily basis helps to delay memory loss, especially in those who experience cognitive decline in the form of dementia[10].

So, pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book, or enjoy a game of solitaire if you want to boost your memory.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has the ability to learn how to improve memory and boost their brainpower, and everyone will find that different strategies work for them. Try out some of the above in order to get a feel for what works for you.

More on How to Improve Memory

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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Julie McCormick

Julie McCormick is a writer, and co-owner of The Cleveland Leader, a Technorati Top 1000 site.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

If you’re like me and really into self-development, you’ve probably read many of the thousands of self-help books out there on the market. But also like me, you probably find all the information a bit overwhelming.

That’s why I wanted to do the self-less task of taking the most important, life-changing lessons I’ve drawn from these books and condensed them into 50 key points.

Here’re 50 habits of successful people you should learn:

1. Believe It to See It

Our minds tend to focus on what’s happening around us and refuse to see what could happen. Only when you trust in what’s possible and dare to dream big, big things can happen for you.

2. See Problems as a Wonderful Gift

While others only see problems and give up, successful people use the problem as a lesson to find improvement in themselves or the task at hand.

3. Keep Looking for Solutions

Even if they’re knee-deep in problems, successful people will still put all of their focus on finding solutions.

4. Remember It’s All About the Journey

Successful people are conscious and methodical in creating their own success. They don’t sit around doing the bare minimum, hoping success finds them.

5. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

There’s so much fear on the road to success, but instead of letting that fear control and limit them, successful people do a good job of just forging ahead regardless.

6. Always Ask Productive Questions

It’s all about asking the right questions. Successful people make sure they are questions that will elicit information for a more productive, creative and positive mindset moving forward.

7. Understand the Best Waste of Energy Is Complaining

Successful people know that choosing to see the negative side of things will only create a useless and unproductive state.

8. Don’t Play the Blame Game

Taking responsibility for actions and outcomes is a form of empowerment that you can build your success upon. While the act of blaming others or outside circumstances takes this empowerment away from you.

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9. Maximize Your Strengths

Not every successful person is simply more talented than the rest, but they do use what they know they’re good at to achieve more successful results.

10. Be in It to Win It

Successful people are busy, productive and proactive. Instead of sitting around over-thinking and over-planning a great idea, they just take a step towards it no matter how small.

11. Know That Success Attracts Success

People who are successful surround themselves and seek out like-minded people. They understand the importance of being part of a team and forge win-win relationships.

12. Actually Choose to Be Successful

Dreaming big is a massive part of being successful even if your dream seems impossible. Ambition is a mindset that needs to be a daily conscious choice.

13. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize!

You’ve got to see your success in your mind’s eye even before it comes. Successful people clarify and get that certainty about what they want their reality to look like rather than being mere spectators of life.

14. Be a One-Off Original

Successful people look for what’s working and then create a unique spin on it. Imitating only regurgitates other people’s ideas with no originality.

15. The Perfect Time to Act Is Now

Waiting for the right time to act is basically procrastination wrapped up in an excuse. Successful people know there’s never a perfect time so they may as well just do it now.

16. Keep Learning, Keep Growing

Continuous learning is the key to a successful life. Whether it’s academic, being a student of life or actionable learning, it’s all about expanding your knowledge and personal development.

17. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Successful people have the knack for finding positive aspects in all people and circumstances no matter what.

18. Having a Bad Day? Do It Anyway!

We all have bad moods but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stop everything. Giving into a bad mood just stop-starts your life, slowing success way down.

19. Sometimes Risky Business Is Needed

Calculated risks are a must for success. It’s about weighing the pros and cons while moving forward with that element of trust.

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20. Accept Challenge All the Time

Dealing with problems head-on is a must to be successful. Successful people also face challenges in order to improve themselves.

21. Make Your Own Luck

In the mindset of a successful person, there’s no such thing as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. They take control to actively and consciously create their own best life.

22. Ignite Your Initiative

While many people are reactive, successful people are proactive – taking action before they have to.

23. Be the Master of Your Emotions

Being effective at managing emotions is key on the road to success. That’s not to say successful people don’t feel like we all do, but they’re just not slaves to their emotions.

24. Champion in Communication

Consciously working on effective communication skills gets anyone closer to success.

25. Plan Your Life Strategically

Successful people’s lives aren’t a clumsy series of unplanned events and outcomes, they methodically work at turning their plans into a reality.

26. Become Exceptional at What You Do

To become exceptional, you typically have to do things that most won’t. To become successful, hard decisions need to be made and acting on them is crucial.

27. Choose to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone

While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid.

28. Live by Core Values

Successful people firstly identify their core values and what’s important to them, then do their best to live a life that reflects these values.

29. Realize Money Isn’t Everything

Money and success are not interchangeable and the most successful people understand this. Putting money on a pedestal and equating it to success is a dangerous mindset to have. Success comes in many forms.

30. Don’t Get Carried Away

Successful people understand the importance of discipline and self-control and as a result they are happy to take the road less travelled.

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31. Self-Worth Is Not Tied to Success

Successful people are secure. They do not derive their self-worth from what they own, who they know, where they live or what they look like.

32. Kindness Breeds Kindness (And Success)

Generosity and kindness is a common trait among long-term successful people. It’s important to take pleasure in helping others achieve.

33. More Humility, Less Arrogance

Successful people are humble and happy to admit and apologize for mistakes. This is because they’re confident in their ability. They are happy to learn from others and happy to make others look good rather than seek their own personal glory.

34. Change Opens New Doors

People who are successful are adaptable and embrace change, while the majority are creatures of comfort and habit. They are comfortable with, and embrace, the new and the unfamiliar.

35. Success Requires a Healthy Body

It’s not just how you think, it’s about how you show up for success. Successful people understand the importance of being physically well, not for vain reasons but because being in tiptop condition creates a better personal life for success.

36. Laziness Just Doesn’t Exist

Successful people are never considered lazy. Yes, they can relax when they need to, but working hard is their game.

37. Resilience by the Bucket Load

When difficulty strikes, most would throw in the towel, but successful people are just warming up.

38. Feedback Is Just Another Chance to Improve

How people react to feedback determines their potential for success. Being open to constructive criticism and acting on it to improve is most seen in those who are successful.

39. Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

If people are hanging out with toxic and negative people, then they need to take a look at themselves. Successful people hang out with others who are positive and supportive.

40. Can’t Control It? Forget It

Successful people don’t invest time or emotional energy into things which they have no control of.

41. Swim Against the Tide

Successful people are not people-pleasers and they don’t need constant approval from others in order to move ahead.

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42. Alone Time Is Valuable Time

More self-worth means being more comfortable with your own company. Successful people are more happy and see the value in spending time alone.

43. Self-Standard Is Higher Than Most

Everyone has a choice to set high standards for themselves. Successful people do this, which in turn produces greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and of course, better results.

44. Failure Isn’t Rationalized

While many use age, health, lack of time, ‘bad luck’, or lack of opportunity to explain away their failure, the key to success is finding a way to succeed despite facing these challenges.

45. Down Time Is an Important Part of a Routine

Having an off switch and taking time to do things that make them happy is a common trait of a successful person. Take a look at here The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

46. Career Isn’t Who You Are, It’s What You Do

Successful people know their career isn’t their identity. They are multi-dimensional and don’t define themselves by their job.

47. Be Interested in Only the Path of Resistance

While most people look for the easiest way or the shortcut, successful people are more interested in the most effective way. They look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.

48. Follow Through

Many spend their life starting things that they never finish, but successful people get the job done. Even when the excitement and the novelty has worn off they still follow through and finish.

49. Invest in All Your Dimensions

We’re not just physical and psychological beings, but emotional and spiritual creatures as well. Successful people consciously work at being healthy and productive on all levels.

50. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

To obtain success, it’s important to practice what you preach. Successful people don’t talk about the theory, they live the reality.

So there you have it, a summary of what I’ve learned from self-help books. But of course, you need to start taking actions so you will get closer to success too.

Bonus: 5 Bad Habits To Quit

More About Success

Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

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