Let me ask you these few questions to see if you’re one of those many people that need to learn how to improve memory. Are you tired of forgetting your mother’s birthday, your wedding anniversary or to pick up milk and bread on your way home? Can you even find your keys now that you have to go back to the shops to pick up the bread and milk you forgot?
I wish I had a photographic memory, also know as eidetic memory, as I think life would be so much easier. I know that there are many courses out there that can develop my photographic memory, but until I save up the money to do one of these courses I have had to find techniques that could improve just my standard memory… now.
So here’s the few things that have helped me:
- It all starts with my own self-talk – are you like me and you start to get nervous and build up a sweat when meeting new people, simply because you are ‘sure’ that you’ll forget their names 3 seconds after hearing it? Well you’re going to have to curb that first off. You know that you have the ability to improve so give your mind every chance, believe in yourself, commit to the task of improving your memory and then give yourself hearty encouragement with each achievement.
- Now for the dreaded word – EXERCISE! – yes, your brain is just like the rest of your body, it requires exercise to stay in tip-top shape. Just as your muscles grow and develop when you do physical exercise, so does your brain when you do mental exercise. It strengthens the neural pathways in your brain, opening more and more areas of your brain. Exercising can involve, doing puzzles or riddles, learning a new language or a new musical instrument. Keep it interesting and you will enjoy the ‘exercise’ while you’re at it.
- Don’t forget to exercise your body too – we can’t improve just one area of our body without the assistance of our whole body, that’s just how it works. So some regular aerobic exercise gets the blood flowing (improving circulation) to all parts of our body, including the brain. Physical exercise also helps you to be more alert, yet relaxed, and in a ‘good frame of mind’ for remembering.
- Reduce stress – of course we can’t completely eliminate stress from our lives, and stress has it’s benefits too. But uncontrolled stress can affect our health both physically and mentally. Find what helps you to reduce stress. For me, yoga or pilates work a treat. It’s something that I enjoy doing, I get satisfaction out of doing because I know it’s good for me, and it’s an hour in my day where I forget about what’s happening and just concentrate on getting my downward facing dog right.
- Take better pictures – Sometimes we forget things, not because our memory is bad, but because we not really concentrating and taking in the details. Listen to their name, think about it, look at what colour tie their wearing and what colour their hair is. Engage in meeting that person and concentrate on seeing details about them and what they’re saying.
- Give yourself time to form a memory – Memories are quickly lost in the short-term, and distractions can make you forget. When meeting a new person, are you listening and concentrating or are you distracted by the piece of spinach in their teeth? The key to avoid losing memories before they have even formed is to give yourself time to focus on things without allowing yourself to be distracted.
- Create vivid images – The more you can visualise information, the easier it is for you to remember. But you must make your visualisations stand out in your mind by making them shocking your absurd. For example, if you want to associate a man with a laptop, try not to visualize the man using the laptop – that’s too simple and forgettable. Instead, come up with something more jarring, something that sticks, like the laptop chasing the man, or the man eating the laptop. It’s your mind – make the images as shocking and emotional as possible to keep the associations strong.
- Repeat things – A nice easy one, this is a no-brainer but, the more times you hear, see, or think about something, the more you’ll remember it! That new person you met, try repeating their name, write it down, think about it. You’ll remember it.
- Get your life organised – put your keys, wallet and phone in the same place every time you come home. Get (and use!) a diary or organiser to keep track of your appointments, bills, birthdays and anniversaries. I know this won’t improve your memory, but it will free your mind up from the routine things in life and allow you to concentrate on memory improvement. Plus, in my case, it greatly reduced stress!
- Have a go anyway -you’ll learn from your mistakes. Whether it’s listing all the Presidents of the United States, the phone numbers and birth dates of 50 friends or relatives or simply your grocery list. Through consist effort and determination you will eventually learn how to improve memory.