Life is made up of memories – what you have seen, heard and done; and what you’re going to do. Every bit of information you take in is only useful if you can remember it at the right time. So, how can you improve your memory?
There are many scientific theories and observations on how memories work. These theories provide us with an understanding of how feelings, routine, context and recollection affect our memories. And here are some tips backed by the scientific insights for improving memory.
1. Method of Loci
Method of Loci is a popular mnemonic technique that helps you recollect a large amount of information. It works by utilizing your spatial and navigational skills as you basically envision your memories as part of a geographical entity. This is the technique that the famous fictional detective Sherlock calls as his Mind Palace.
This method is extremely useful when you are preparing for a speech or an exam. Here is how you can make use of it:
- Visualize a space you are most familiar with. It could be your home, your favorite park or your school.
- Construct the rooms, shelves, furniture and everything inside it in your mind.
- Imagine yourself keeping the items you want to remember in each of the rooms or in places.
- Next time you want to remember something, walk through room by room to recall what you placed there.
Repeating this exercise has proven to be a great way of remembering loads of information with ease.
You can learn more about this method in this article: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything
Acronyms are proven to be very effective in memorizing a group of words. Research has shown that our brains are better at retrieving things when we associate meaning to them. This is why recollecting a single meaningful word or phrase is easy compared to trying to remember a list of words.
For instance, to memorize the directions on the compass, you can use the acronym NEWS (North, East, West, and South); or, when you want to remember the Great Lakes basin, you can make us of the acronym HOME (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior) etc.
Make up your own acronyms to the list of things you want to remember. all you need to do is list the things that you want to memorize and arrange them in an order such that the first letter of each word spells a real word.
There is a reason why rhymes are still a popular way to teach kids. Because our brains are good at acoustic encoding which means – breaking down sound structures. We can easily remember stuff when they sound similar.
The peg method can help you out. You first need to memorize the list in the exact order given below:
one = bun
two = shoe
four = door
five = hive
six = sticks
seven = heaven
eight = gate
nine = vine
ten = hen
After you have memorized this list, now connect the first word to bun, second word to shoe, and so on. This will help you in making a memorable connection.
Another way is to construct rhymes on the information you want to remember. For instance, if you want to remember that Mr. Jones runs a real-estate business, you can remember him with a rhyme – Mr. Jones from Homes.
Although this may seem a bit weird and funny, this method will help you in memorizing the stuff better.
This is a useful technique to help you stay sharp in many everyday scenarios like remembering shopping lists. This is a visualization and association technique where you associate meanings to visual imagery. However, it is important to ensure that the images stored in your mind are as vivid as possible.
For instance, if you want to remember a set of items, just link them up in a story. Let’s say that you want to remember the South England countries – Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, , Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Somerset, Surrey, and Wiltshire.
You can link all these countries in the form of a story. An AVON lady is looking for a house. She is sweating and thirsty due to high SUMMER (Somerset). In the way, she came across a giant CORN (Cornwall), but it is about to WILT (Wiltshire) in the heart. She reaches the house and knocks on the DOOR (Dorset), which is attended by the DEVIL (Devon).
She enters inside and found that a servant is seasoning the HAM (Hampshire), and everything looks extremely GLOSSY (Gloucestershire). Frightened of the whole atmosphere, the lady says SORRY (Surrey) and returns back to her path.
Very few people bother to remember phone numbers by heart nowadays. But what if you lose your contacts and need a way to recollect those long numbers? This memory technique will be handy in those situations.
Chunking is basically breaking down the information into smaller pieces that are easy to remember. Start with a small number say 379372518. Break it to three chunks 378 372 518. This will help you remember better. Improve your skills every day by trying to remember more numbers this way.
6. Write It Down
Writing activates your brain cells and stimulates your reticular activating system (RAS). So whenever you are trying to learn something, try writing it down. Review what you have written and test yourself.
You can also hand draw memory maps to further develop your memorization power.
7. Be Busy
Repeat all your brain exercises regularly and keep testing yourself to get better. A recent study revealed that our brain needs to be busy to keep itself fit as well.
Test yourself repeatedly if you want to retain the correct information for the longest time.
Take walks or indulge in some physical activities as well. Research shows that healthy people who exercise regularly have better memories than those who don’t.
8. Give Yourself a Good Sleep
Sleeping is very much necessary if you want to be good at memory. A tired body that lacks sleep will not be able to recollect or retain information effectively. So rest well and make sure your body and mind are rejuvenated every day.
9. Eat Healthily
Try to include more vegetables and fruits into your diet to improve memory. A study conducted by Harvard medical school backs this as well. Scientists believe that the antioxidants and vitamins from vegetables and fruits help to reduce oxidative stress in the brain and help battle age-related memory issues.
Learn about the brain foods you should include in your diet: 12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health
10. Play Video Games and Brain Training Apps
Now here is a fun way to improve memory. Playing video games may not seem the best way to study for an exam but, regular video game playing can actually improve certain memory-associated regions of the brain. Studies have shown that video games helps in total knowledge recall and can reduce dementia risk.
Considering the benefits, maybe you can make brain training apps a regular pastime or something to do on your breaks.
11. Think of the Ways in Which Things Relate to You
According to a recent research, you can boost your memory considerably by contemplating why the information is important to you. This signals your brain to convert the short-term memories into the long-term ones, thus helping you remember effortlessly.
12. Exercise Regularly
You might not see this coming but people who exercise daily, whether it be leisurely walking, have better memories when compared to their counterparts who do no physical activity.
13. Don’t Just Memorize But Also Pay Attention to Essence
Although practice makes perfect, this might not necessarily be true when it comes to boosting memory. Scientists have found that while repetitive practice could help you in remembering things, you might miss on the bigger picture.
That’s indeed true. Do you remember that one presentation when you memorized everything by heart without giving much thought to it? What happened next? Someone interrupted in between and you were not able to recall anything again!
Thus, rote repetition will not do any good. You need to complement repetition by a proper understanding of the finer details.
Sharpening your memory is not rocket science. All you need to do is follow the fun and simple ways mentioned above, and eat right to boost your brain health!
More About Sharpening Your Brain
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