Not being able to remember the simplest things, such as where your keys are or when your sister’s birthday is can be embarrassing, troubling and just downright frustrating. And don’t get me started on the super important things we stress over remembering and still totally forget – total nightmare!
While you may not need the memory of an elephant, it would still be pretty nice to remember the answers to those trivia questions BEFORE they get marked. And what about that super important thing you learnt in university that’s super relevant to the argument you’re having right now? I mean, Google helps but it shouldn’t be the go-to for everything, right?
Rather than relying on someone to ring us and say “Did you remember to pay your rego?” or “It’s Dad’s birthday next week”, start taking things into your own hands. Here are 11 mind-sharpening techniques, tips and tricks for improving your memory:
1. Stop Multi-tasking
Your brain can’t properly function when focusing on numerous activities simultaneously. Multi-tasking can actually slow you down, reduce productivity, increase errors and make you more forgetful. Focus on one thing at a time, then move on.
2. Play Brain Games
Fun AND education! There are so many apps and websites now offering games to boost your brainpower and ability to recall information easier. Try your hand at Sudoku or crossword puzzles (but try not to Google the answer!).
3. Try Mnemonic Devices
You don’t need to know how to pronounce it, just how to use it. Mnemonic devices can be used to recall information quicker, by using a rhyme or song, photographic memory, acronyms or chunking numbers into easy-to-remember formats. You might already know one. My Very Easy Memory Jingle Seems Useful Naming Planets. Before Pluto got kicked out (#neverforget), this was the easiest way to remember the order of planets in primary school.
4. Chew More Gum
Chewing gum has been linked to boosting the brain’s performance in certain situations, such as during tests or exams and short-term memory recall. The chewing action triggers the release of insulin to the body and the brain’s memory region (the hippocampus) has insulin receptors which cam increase cognitive function when stimulated. Our teachers really shouldn’t have been confiscating our gum all through high school.
5. Be Social IRL
Focusing on your screen rather than catching up with people in the world can cause heightened levels of depression and stress, both of which contribute to memory loss. Plus, sometimes it’s nice to be around people who can’t remember things either.
6. Get More Sleep AND Have More Naps
Getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night is ideal for recharging the brain to full mental capacity. It’s also been proven that a nap after learning something new can boost brain power and help retain memories. Maybe this is why post-uni lecture naps were so satisfying.
7. Become More Organised
You’ve heard the saying “a cluttered home equals a cluttered mind”, right? Putting organisational systems in place, keeping to-do lists, calendars, diaries and designating areas for items you constantly misplace will do your memory wonders.
8. Eat More Brain Food
Next time you’re out shopping, stock up on superfoods known to increase brain power, such as dark leafy greens, walnuts, red meat, blueberries and healthy fats in foods such as avocado, salmon and eggs.
9. Use The Name Game
If you struggle remembering the names of people you meet, try mention their name three times in conversation during your first encounter. For example, “Hi, PATRICE. What do you do for a living, PATRICE? Nice meeting you, PATRICE.” Sorted.
10. Exercise Regularly
Raising your heart rate increases the blood flow to your brain, so get moving with a quick jog or high-intensity interval exercise!
11. Change Your Routines
Whether it’s taking an alternative route to work, sitting at a different seat at the family dinner table or getting dressed in another order, studies have shown that brain activity declines when we do a task that is routine and automatic. You can stimulate your brain by choosing to switch and change the regular tasks in your everyday life.
12. Get Checked Out
Did you know certain lifestyle conditions cause memory lapses? If you have an undiagnosed sensitivity to gluten or thyroid disease, you could be suffering minor memory loss. If you have any serious concerns, chat to your GP about what can be done to help!
13. Share Knowledge
Sharing information you’ve learnt, that you already know or that you need to remember helps you store it for longer, and also means someone else can be responsible for helping you remember later too. WINNING!
Feature Image: Lucy, 2014
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