Memory is the mental activity of recalling information that you have learned or experienced. That simple definition, though, covers a complex process that involves many different parts of the brain and serves us in disparate ways. Memory can be short-term or long-term. In short-term memory, your mind stores information for a few seconds or a few minutes. Long-term memory involves the information you make an effort (conscious or unconscious) to retain, because it’s personally meaningful to you.
Tips for memory improvements
- Pay attention: You can’t remember something if you never learned it, and you can’t learn something – that is, encode it into your brain – if you don’t pay enough attention to it. It takes about eight seconds of intent focus to process a piece of information through your hippocampus and into the appropriate memory center. So, no multitasking when you need to concentrate! If you distract easily, try to receive information in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.
- Mediation: In this method, a bridge is built in between the items given to be memorized. This technique is best suited for learning material involving word pairs or material that can be reduced to word pairs.
- Exercise your body: Healthy body, healthy mind as they say. The more oxygen that you make available to your brain the better your memory becomes.
- Exercise your brain: Although your brain isn’t actually a muscle you can keep it in good shape by mentally challenging yourself. Puzzle games like Soduku, Tetris and Crosswords can help to keep the mind agile. Learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument can take a little more effort to do but will do wonders for your memory. Mentally exercising your brain has been proven to improve the physiological function of your brain.
- Eat healthily: You are what you eat and some foods are better for your body and memory than others. As far as looking after your memory goes you should eat foods that are high in anti oxidants. Not only will a diet rich in fresh olive oil, berries, steamed broccoli and spinach help your memory but it will probably also help reduce cholesterol. Omega oils are the holy grail of brain foods.
- Reduce stress: Chronic and even temporary stress makes it more difficult to remember. A relaxed person remembers more and probably lives longer too. Luckily exercising your body helps you to relax and reduces stress so if you practice our first step you are already well on your way to reducing stress.
- Mnemonics: Believe it or not it is often easier to remember a whole sentence than just one word. For example a small child learning to spell the word BECAUSE will probably find the sentence Betty Eats Cake And Uncle Sells Eggs easier to remember than repeating the letters B-E-C-A-U-S-E over and over again. This is because your brain remembers images and novelty easier than it can remember abstract information like strings of letters or numbers.
- Good sleep habits: Sleep is necessary for memory consolidation. Sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea leave you tired and unable to concentrate during the day.
- Chunking: Perhaps Chunking is the oldest method used in memorization. In this method, the items to be memorized are divided into small and easily memorizable chunks or groups. This method works best when the order of the items is not important. This method is found to be particularly well suited for memorizing multi-digit numbers and for committing complicated spellings to memory.
- Keep a positive attitude: Tell yourself that you want to learn what you need to remember, and that you can learn and remember it. Telling yourself you have a bad memory actually hampers the ability of your brain to remember, while positive mental feedback sets up an expectation of success.
Take your time developing these skills and remember the old saying “Practice makes perfect.” If you apply yourself to learning or trying any of these techniques, and you feed your brain with the right things, you will have an excellent memory in no time at all.