Steps to improve your memory:
1. Convince yourself that you have a good memory that will
improve. Too many people get stuck here and convince
themselves that their memory is bad, that they are just not good with names, that numbers just
slip out of their minds for some reason. Erase those thoughts and vow to improve your memory.
Commit yourself to the task and bask in your achievements -- it's hard to keep motivated if you
beat yourself down every time you make a little bit of progress.
2. Keep your brain active. The brain is not a muscle, but regularly “exercising" the brain actually
does keep it growing and spurs the development of new nerve connections that can help
improve memory. By developing new mental skills—especially complex ones such as learning a
new language or learning to play a new musical instrument—and challenging your brain with
puzzles and games you can keep your brain active and improve its physiological functioning.
3. Exercise daily. Regular aerobic exercise improves circulation and efficiency throughout the body,
including in the brain, and can help ward off the memory loss that comes with aging. Exercise
also makes you more alert and relaxed, and can thereby improve your memory uptake, allowing
you to take better mental “pictures."
4. Reduce stress. Chronic stress, although it does not physically damage the brain, can make
remembering much more difficult. Even temporary stresses can make it more difficult to
effectively focus on concepts and observe things. Try to relax, regularly practice yoga or other
stretching exercises, and see a doctor if you have severe chronic stress.
5. Eat well and eat right. There are a lot of herbal supplements on the market that claim to
improve memory, but none have yet been shown to be effective in clinical tests (although small
studies have shown some promising results for ginkgo biloba and phosphatidylserine). A healthy
diet, however, contributes to a healthy brain, and foods containing antioxidants—broccoli,
blueberries, spinach, and berries, for example—and Omega-3 fatty acids appear to promote
healthy brain functioning. Feed your brain with such supplements as Thiamine, Vitamin E, Niacin
and Vitamin B-6. Grazing, eating 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals,
also seems to improve mental functioning (including memory) by limiting dips in blood sugar,
which may negatively affect the brain.
Often we forget things not because our memory is bad, but rather
because our observational skills need work. One common situation where this occurs (and which
almost everyone can relate to) is meeting new people. Often we don’t really learn people’s
names at first because we aren’t really concentrating on remembering them. You’ll find that if
you make a conscious effort to remember such things, you’ll do much better. One way to train
yourself to be more observant is to look at an unfamiliar photograph for a few seconds and then
turn the photograph over and describe or write down as many details as you can about the
photograph. Try closing your eyes and picturing the photo in your mind. Use a new photograph
each time you try this exercise, and with regular practice you will find you’re able to remember
more details with even shorter glimpses of the photos.
Memories are very fragile in the short-term, and
distractions can make you quickly forget something as simple as a phone number. The key to
avoid losing memories before you can even form them is to be able to focus on the thing to be
remembered for a while without thinking about other things, so when you’re trying to
remember something, avoid distractions and complicated tasks for a few minutes.
You remember information more easily if you can
visualize it. If you want to associate a child with a book, try not to visualize the child reading the
book – that's too simple and forgettable. Instead, come up with something more jarring,
something that sticks, like the book chasing the child, or the child eating the book. It's your mind
– make the images as shocking and emotional as possible to keep the associations strong.
The more times you hear, see, or think about something,
the more surely you’ll remember it, right? It’s a no-brainer. When you want to remember
something, be it your new co-worker’s name or your best friend's birthday, repeat it, either out
loud or silently. Try writing it down; think about it.
Random lists of things (a shopping list, for example)
can be especially difficult to remember. To make it easier, try categorizing the individual things
from the list. If you can remember that, among other things, you wanted to buy four different
kinds of vegetables, you’ll find it easier to remember all four.
Research now suggests that people who regularly practice
"mindfulness" meditation are able to focus better and may have better memories.
Mindfulness (also known as awareness or insight meditation) is the type
commonly practiced in Western countries and is easy to learn.
Studies at Massachusetts General Hospital show that regular meditation
thickens the cerebral cortex in the brain by increasing the blood flow to
that region. Some researchers believe this can enhance attention span,
focus, and memory.
Learn pegs, memory palaces, and the Dominic System.
These techniques form the foundation for mnemonic techniques, and will visibly improve your
Keep items that you
frequently need, such as keys and
eyeglasses, in the same place every time.
Use an electronic organizer or daily
planner to keep track of appointments,
due dates for bills, and other tasks. Keep
phone numbers and addresses in an
address book or enter them into your
computer or cell phone. Improved
organization can help free up your powers
concentration so that you can remember
less routine things. Even if being organized
doesn’t improve your memory, you’ll
receive a lot of the same benefits (i.e. you
won’t have to search for your keys
The amount of sleep we get affects the brain's ability to recall recently learned
information. Getting a good night's sleep – a
improve your short-term memory and long-term relational memory, according to recent studies
conducted at the Harvard Medical School.
Go ahead and take a stab at memorizing the
first one hundred digits of pi, or, if you've done that already, the first one thousand. Memorize
the monarchs of England through your memory palaces, or your grocery list through
visualization. Through diligent effort you will eventually master the art of memorization.