Where did I leave my keys?
What did my wife say she wanted me to pick up from the store?
How do you solve this equation?
Every human on Earth has, at one point or another, desperately wished they had a better memory. Our complex and amazing brains are preoccupied with countless tasks, so we should be able to forgive them for missing a few details that we need on occasion. Still, you don’t have to chalk it up to your genes or just the way your mind works. You can work to improve your memory with a few techniques:
1. Create stories and mental associations.
Before you’ve even made the memory itself, you can help your brain retain it by using pre-existing associations. For example, if you’re meeting someone new and you want to remember their name, see if you can attach their name to something or someone you already know. Let’s say you’re trying to remember the name Katie, and you had a best friend in high school named Katie. This is a very simplistic example, but it should give you an idea.
Another technique that memory champions (that’s right, there are championships for memory) use is creating a story. If you have to remember complex Latin names or formulas, turn the strange words and abstract symbols into a funny or bizarre story to give your brain something concrete to latch onto.
You’re probably sick of hearing about all the supposed amazing benefits of meditating, but studies are revealing more and more ways the trend can improve your life. According to research, meditation actually affects your brain physically, in some instances thickening the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is where most of your information processing and retaining take place, and it looks like these physical changes can help increase your attention span and memory retention, among other things. Just 20 minutes a day could be the key to taking your memory to the next level.
3. Keep your body healthy to keep your mind sharp.
Eating right and exercising are tips that can help you in so many areas of life, memory improvement included. Studies have shown that those who are obese have a greater risk of experiencing gradual memory decline as they get older. Staying at a healthy weight and eating right keep your brain sharp. Exercise can also give your brain a boost by decreasing anxiety levels, which when combined with the effects of stress can impair your cognitive functions.
4. Get the proper amount of sleep.
We all know how zombie-like we get whenever we’re tired or haven’t gotten enough sleep. It should come as no surprise that maintaining a regular sleep schedule and getting the recommended 7-8 hours a night can improve your memory. Not only will your brain be fresh and ready to go from the rest, but you might also find that your problem solving skills improve, as one possible effect of sleep might just be working through issues that affect your waking life.