Have you ever forgotten the name of someone you met a few seconds ago or where you left your car keys? Or you’re at the store and can’t remember what you needed to buy? There are many situations you’ve probably wished you had a better memory.
Moreover, as you get older and look back on your life, all you will have are memories. How much you remember depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Having a good memory isn’t only useful for passing exams; it can also help with day-to-day activities and, in the long-term, reduce the risk of dementia.
Can You Really Improve Your Memory?
In the same way you can strengthen muscles in your body for better performance, you can train your brain to learn faster and remember more. Your brain’s ability to change, or re-wire itself, is referred to as brain plasticity.
Whether you are a student preparing for an exam or a working professional interested in staying mentally sharp, there are plenty of things you can do to boost your memory capabilities.
All that’s needed is practicing new memorization techniques and making some changes to your lifestyle. Here are 9 useful tips and tricks to improve your memory.
Fun Brain Games To Retrain Your Mind
There are many fun memorizing techniques (called mnemonics) to help you remember a piece of information. For instance, someone’s name or interesting facts to impress your next date. Methods include silly rhymes, acronyms, visual pictures, or repetition.
The best mnemonics are those which use humor and positive imagery. You can also be creative and make up your own devices.
1. Visual imagery
Associate a colorful and vivid picture in your mind with the information you want to remember. The more ridiculous the visual, the easier it will be to remember.
For example, to remember the name of your new acquaintance called Jack, you could conjure up an image of Captain Jack Sparrow from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.
To remember a list of items, facts, or concepts, link them in the form of a creative story. The more exaggerated the story, the easier it will be to recall it later on.
This is a technique where you break down large pieces of information into smaller, more manageable “chunks” of phrases, words, or numbers. For instance, it can be difficult to remember the following number: 9873264010. But, what if it’s divided like this: 987 326 4010. Much easier, right?
4. The Method of Loci
Imagine a space you know well, your home, for example. Next, connect each item needing memorization with a specific location within your house.
To clarify, let’s say you want to remember a shopping list. You could imagine a puddle of milk on the front porch, apples on the kitchen table, and chocolate on your bed.
5. Repeat out loud
A simple yet effective method to remember something you’ve done, heard, or read is to repeat it aloud. For example, to remember where you’ve left your car keys, cellphone, or remote control, repeat out loud, “I left the [object] on the kitchen table.” If you say it a few times, the information will stick.
Lifestyle Changes To Improve Your Memory and Recall
While brain games and mnemonic devices help you to remember specific information, without a healthy mind, you can’t form the memories. Making just a few key changes to your diet and lifestyle can have significant effects on the storing and recall of memories.
6. Eat Foods to Boost Your Brain Power and Memory
Nutrition plays a crucial role in brain function. Therefore, a lack of high-quality energy (that is, the foods you eat) can be damaging to your cognitive and memory capabilities. Fruit and vegetables, nuts and foods rich in B vitamins, folic acid, and iron, like lentils, soybeans, and eggs, are excellent brain food.
Tip: Include foods high in flavonoids, like dark-colored berries and cacao, into your diet to improve your memory skills. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants which studies have shown to slow memory decline and improve recall.
7. Mental workouts
Like muscles, our brain needs regular exercise to stay fit and healthy. Therefore, playing brain games is an effective way to sharpen your cognitive skills. For example, word-recall games and memory-training mobile apps are fantastic ways to strengthen your memory.
Furthermore, learning something new and complex over a long period, like a language or musical instrument is also extremely beneficial for your brain and memory.
Tip: Instead of scrolling through your social media feed when you’re on the bus or waiting for a friend, try to memorize four details of someone nearby. The goal is to observe the details and then try to recall them later.
8. Get plenty of sleep
Research shows that good memory performance is linked to sufficient shut-eye. When we sleep, memory consolidation takes place. This is a process where our brain sorts out which short-term memories will be transformed into long-lasting memories.
Tip: To get a good night’s sleep, create a peaceful sleeping environment – one that is dark and quiet. It’s best to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and prolonged-use of blue-light sources before bedtime.
9. Get moving
Regular physical exercise keeps your brain sharp. Studies show that aerobic exercise, an activity that gets your heart pumping, can increase the hippocampus’s size – a section of the brain involved in learning and memory.
Secondly, exercise increases blood flow to your head, boosting the growth and development of new neurons and neuronal connections, leading to healthier brain cells and better memory.
Tip: Physical activities requiring good hand-eye coordination are especially beneficial for brain building. Swap a morning run for a game of tennis, jump rope, or even juggling.