Our Brains need exercise, just like our bodies do, in order to stay sharp. If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it, as the old saying goes. If you’ve ever watched the game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”, then you probably have thought, “I actually knew this stuff at one time!?” This is a perfect example of how information that we learn will seem to disappear if we don’t keep reviewing it, or building upon it.
Keeping our minds active is vital to keeping our memory alive and well. High levels of cortisol (a stress hormone in our body) also interfere with mental activities such as memory and skill building. This means that you can boost your memory by keeping your stress levels at bay: doing some sort of exercise, meditations, mantra meditation, and yoga regularly all help calm the body and mind and have been shown in numerous studies to decrease cortisol levels. Getting enough sleep is also a key component to keeping a sharp mind and good memory; it also keeps cortisol levels in check.
When you are trying to commit information to memory, a chapter in your school textbook, for example, go over the information quickly at first- a preview. Then take a short break for about 10-15 minutes, and now really go through the information in detail. The best time to do this is before you go to sleep, as it is the last information your brain will receive and so it will process it all night long. However, if your best study time is in the morning, then do it then, because ultimately getting the studying accomplished is the goal. If you find yourself falling asleep when you’re studying in the evening, then you know that this is probably not your best time, and you should study in the morning.
When you are trying to remember a name, repeat the their name in conversation as many times as you can without sounding weird, and picture their name written on the front of their shirt. Or if their name sounds like something, picture that thing or place, like Cindy might remind you of cinnamon. Then as you are leaving, tell them it was nice to meet them, and use their name again. Pretend that you will get $100 if you remember their name in one week from the day that you meet them and see if you do. That should help.
There are many mnemonic devices to help people memorize things; you can take the first letter of what you need to remember and make a word out of it, or it doesn’t neatly fit into a word (and it usually doesn’t), you make new words. Boost Your Memory- B Y M could be Blue, Yellow, Magenta.
Or use Loci- visualizing, sort of like that Sesame Street skit with the little girl singing the grocery list and a cartoon image of the item popped up: a stick of butter, a gallon of milk, a carton of eggs, and so on.
Doing mental exercises like crossword puzzles will also help increase brain power, which will help memory and you have to use recall to come up with words to fit the answers to the puzzles.
Scent has been powerfully linked to memory in many scientific studies, so use this to your advantage. Let’s say you are studying for a math test- while you study, use a scent, like peppermint each time you study. When you take your test, make sure to chew peppermint gum or put some peppermint oil on you. Try this for doing presentations too-while practicing, wear a certain perfume or cologne each time you practice your speech or presentation. Then on the day of the actual presentation, wear the perfume or cologne. This will help with your recall of all the information you went over, the things you practiced, it will help relax you, and it will boost your confidence.