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14 Ways You Haven’t Tried To Improve Your Memory

14 Ways You Haven’t Tried To Improve Your Memory

We all deal with memory loss to some degree: some forget where they put their car keys, others forget why they went out shopping, while others even forget their names. In case you are not under a severe hangover or a student-with-sudden-memory-loss-due-to-exams, you need to identify the cause of your memory loss and combat it with proper, effective methods.

If you are found healthy and doing well, but still have problems recalling things, here are 14 effective and easy ways to improve memory and boost your academic/professional productivity.

Use mnemonics

hand mnemonic write

    As the computer uses binary code to store data and retrieve it in a user-friendly way, the human brain is recording data in a certain pattern, bringing it back later in a specific form. Mnemonics use exactly this feature and help you store information in a specific code, allowing you to recall it in a friendly form. Sounds complicated, right? Well, it is not. When you use a mnemonic you will use a simple rhyme or abbreviation to remember information. To do that you will use already known images, data, smells and other things to link new data to the old. For example, HOMES can stand for the names of the Great Lakes and it is easy to remember, so you would find it easier to remember Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Superior in this form, rather than individual lake names. A mnemonic can be anything, not only a word, so feel free to use your imagination and work your way up to master this memory improvement technique.

    Learn something new

    girl learning for improve memory

      Memory is like a car: if you don’t use it, you lose it. To improve memory and help your brain stay focused all the time, learn something new as frequently as possible. There is no recipe for a long life, but all people who lived more than the average had this one thing in common (among others, like a healthy diet): they used their mind all the time. Learn a new dance, a new language, a new game – anything appealing to you and it will help you improve your memory and acquire new skills in the process, as well as friends. And being social is very important as you are about to find out later in this article.

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      Get enough sleep

      cat sleeps to improve memory

        As keeping your mind active improves the pattern making function in your brain and keeps the neurons busy, sleep stores all the memories. As you fall asleep, the brain switches from the acquiring state to the storing state: during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleeping phase you classify all the events from that day and link them to other memories and knowledge you already have.

        Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, studied the process of brain loss in elders and found memory impairment is linked to poor sleep. At the same time, another study proved naps help children boost their learning power. Connecting the two results you have one major conclusion: you need to get enough sleep to boost your memory, no matter what age you are. This means you need eight hours of sleep as an adult, but depending on each individual, you may need a couple of more (or less) sleep hours. The best way to remember the information you need to learn is to review it just before you go to bed, as this will sediment all the data.

        Focus on fitness (and other exercises)

        girls running marathon

          A study conducted by Dr. David Jacobs at the University of Minnesota, concluded people who follow a regular cardio exercise routine in their young age have better memory in their middle ages, namely after the age of 45. This study is nothing new, as practicians all over the world already noted exercises like swimming, cardio fitness, running and other related exercises help people beat memory impairment in the long term. To improve your memory and keep your mind focused as you age, exercise your body, as well as your mind. You should pick cardio over other type of exercises, as increasing your heart rate increases blood flow towards the brain.

          Watch your diet

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          berry cupcakes

            The term “brain food” is not new: there are foods which improve your memory and keep your mind alert. A new study conducted at the University Hospital of Basel, Switzerland, showed green tea is one of these super-foods. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in nuts, ocean fish and olive oil were studied and proved to be effective memory enhancers, so eat those regularly. Other foods to include in your diet on a regular basis: eggs, tomatoes, red wine (use with caution), capers, blueberries and turmeric. Previous lesser known studies revealed that vanilla, rosemary and sage are also great aids when you are looking to improve memory. Vanilla is used in aromatherapy for memory enhancement. Chewing gum is another proven way to improve memory, as multiple studies revealed it increases your heart rate and releases certain scents, both of which trigger memories.

            Meditation and better breathing

            meditation statue

              Meditation is very popular these days, promoted as a wonder-cure, but there are real benefits you can enjoy. First, meditation can speed up your heart rate, thus, bringing more blood to the brain, which also brings more oxygen, making it function at top rates. Second, it helps you relax and focus on you for an hour, which has amazing long-term benefits for brain power, as well as overall health. Most meditation techniques and exercises include deep breathing which is another way to improve memory and relieve stress. By practicing it a couple of minutes a day, you will have better posture, a positive mood and you will feel more energetic. Plus, they are both FREE!

              Enjoy nature

              enjoy the nature to improve memory

                A walk in the great outdoors is very helpful when you look to improve memory and enhance your cognitive power. Researchers from the University of Michigan tested this theory on subjects who were asked to take a walk in nature, then remember a list of items. Another group was asked to walk in the city, then asked the same question. Those who enjoyed the walk in the garden had a better memory of the list by a staggering 20%. But researchers didn’t stop here: they put people to test again, this time showing them pictures with natural scenery and urban landscapes. Guess what: the results were the same! Next time you forget something, open your computer and watch green forest landscapes and your memory will come back.

                Play, play, play

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                playing chess on the beach

                  Computer games are great, but they hardly improve your cognitive functions. Logical and strategy games however, can help you improve memory and focus, while you also socialize and have a great time. The best picks in terms of memory games are chess, Sudoku and related games. The Gray cells in your brain will thank you for those gaming hours.

                  Use neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)

                  man levitating oranges

                    The concept of NLP is rather new, but it is very effective, as it can teach you how to overcome your limits. The basic logic behind NLP is that human limits are drawn by each individual, so they can be beaten by auto-suggestion. Spending time alone, asking yourself what is the cause of your memory loss and figuring put what you really, really want, may help you relieve memory loss and improve your brain power. This works pretty much the same way as a placebo. A study even showed people who were told repetitively that aging alters their memory actually scored lower than their counterparts, who were told there was no link between memory loss and the aging process. Meditation is a great prelude to NLP and they both work great with a better diet, aromatherapy and exercising.

                    Use your sense of smell

                    fragrance to improve memory

                      Perfumes are great not only because they smell good, but also because they help you remember things. Aromatherapy is one of the most accessible ways to improve memory. And there are many studies which proved it is highly effective: Saint Louis University School of Medicine from Missouri is the place where researchers tested the effectiveness of rosemary and peppermint. They used substances with the same antioxidants concentration on mice and found out rosemary increased the focus power and had positive effects for preventing memory loss due to aging. Peppermint had the same benefits, so next time you need to learn math, stock up on peppermint gum.

                      Press those buttons

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                      acupuncture doll

                        Acupuncture has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, with excellent results in almost any field, so there is no surprise it works in improving memory. Each part of your body is crossed by nerves and energy channels. You can stimulate those points with the help of a very thin needle or by pressing them with your fingers. To stimulate your memory and bring back important information press your temples gently, but firmly with your fingers for a couple of seconds. This will relieve stress and help you remember where you put your car keys.

                        Visualize memories

                        visualize glasses

                          A study conducted at the University of Helsinki proved what many students already knew very well: humans have a powerful visual memory. Matching certain images with new information can help you access that information by seeing the image again. In other words, one can use a particular image to recall past events and data. This is why you get tears in the corner of your eye when you see your old skaters or view old photos.

                          Stop multitasking

                          One of the biggest lies in the history of human kind, in terms of productivity is multitasking. Despite the fact that all companies look for this skill in future employees, it actually cuts down a lot on the actual number and quality of things one can accomplish during a given time. To improve your memory and become productive stop doing more things at a time and start focusing on one thing on a time. Start your day with the most important task, then have a small break. Resume your work and at noon deal with the emails, leaving the simplest tasks for the last working hours. If you have meetings, schedule them at the first hour of the day, as waiting is a great memory stealer.

                          Get social

                          friends having fun

                            Socializing is great for your brain as well as overall mood. Never underestimate the power of a good talk, even if it isn’t very interesting. A simple gossip session can improve memory, as it stimulates multiple parts in the brain. To have great memory, you need to keep your synapses – the connection paths between the neurons – active and talking does exactly this. Moreover, you can pair other activities in this list with this last gem, to reap even more benefits from them.

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                            Last Updated on April 19, 2021

                            The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                            The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                            Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

                            The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

                            Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

                            In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

                            When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

                            Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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                            1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

                            When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

                            As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

                            That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

                            The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

                            What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

                            Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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                            There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

                            So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

                            2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

                            When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

                            No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

                            3. Move Your Body

                            A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

                            It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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                            So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

                            4. Connect With Another Person

                            Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

                            One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

                            Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

                            5. Use Your Imagination

                            When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

                            That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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                            And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

                            Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

                            Final Thoughts

                            Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

                            Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

                            More on the Importance of Taking a Break

                            Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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