Your memory is something you unknowingly rely on for everything that you do and perhaps you even take it for granted. Your ability to recall math facts you learned in third grade or your colleague’s name can be impacted by age, the need for the information, the frequency it is used, or even being hit in the head. Thankfully there are a variety of techniques used to improve memory that actually works!
I know that as my birthdays began to pass me by, my ability to remember information easily and quickly can sometimes be a challenge. I will also admit it can be frustrating and even a bit troubling as it was something that came so easily to me in my younger days. I almost had a photographic memory when it came to spelling words and math facts!
Fortunately, there are several techniques used to improve memory that I have been finding helpful and actually pretty fun too!
In my beginning years of educating youth, I would get frustrated with them if they were constantly doodling while I was instructing. I felt as if they were not paying attention. However, the opposite is actually true. As a person doodles, the brain remains active and therefore, is open to information coming in.
Some studies have shown that someone who is doodling while listening may remember upwards of 29% more information than someone who was just listening. Just listening allows our minds to wander and remain unfocused.
#2. Puzzle Games for Your Brain
Studies in the aging population have shown that those people who keep their brain challenged and active have fewer instances of memory loss and dementia. And even those who are in the early stages of dementia or memory loss can prevent it from escalating or at least ward off the speed at which it occurs.
If you think about when you spend your day watching TV and your brain is not actively engaged, you struggle with remembering things. Therefore, keeping your brain busy and engrossed in activities is essential to improving your memory.
#3. Clench your Dominant Fist
When you are trying to recall information, some studies show that clenching your fist may actually improve your ability to do so.
If you are right-handed, clench your right hand for 45 seconds while studying the material. Then when you want to recall the information, clench your left hand. (Obviously, if you are left-handed perform the same process but in the opposite order.)
Some studies have shown that these movements will activate certain regions of the brain that are essential for storing and recalling information. It is all about making connections in the brain.
#4. Learn Something New Every Day
Learning something new every day may seem like an overwhelming task. In all actuality, it just means to be continually learning. You do not need to be trying to understand the intricacies of a NASA satellite but instead, learn a few words of a new language or maybe try to improve your existing knowledge about the flowers in your garden.
Even if you already know how to do something, attempt to get better at that skill. This can be one of the more enjoyable techniques used to improve memory.
For example, I used to draw a lot in my younger days and now I have extended that skill by painting. It is an extension of that drawing that pushes my brain. Sometimes, it is enjoyable and there are other instances when I become downright frustrated with the entire process. Either way, my brain is working.
The purpose is to again, keep your brain engaged in activities that are meaningful and purposeful.
#5. Move Out of Your Comfort Zone
Doing what you have always done feels comfortable and familiar but it also keeps you stagnant. When you constantly do what you have always done, you may find that being successful may seem to evade you and you begin to even struggle to improve your self-esteem and confidence. Your brain will eventually become lazy if you do not demand more of it. As a result, your ability to recall information is compromised.
Investigate a new hobby or volunteer with a local group. Exposing yourself to new activities and new people are great ways to get your brain working. They can also be used to alleviate anxiety.
#6. Use Color and Interesting Fonts
Ok, so this is going to sound a bit weird but if you are studying, it may be helpful to have the words written in less than ordinary fonts. Just as I have mentioned previously, when we become accustomed to something, our brain starts to turn off and become lazy.
So, if you are reading information that is placed in an unusual font, then you force your brain to pay more attention and work harder. As a result, your ability to retain that information increases.
Utilizing color is another effective strategy to help you retrieve information. Whether you use a simple highlighter to accentuate existing text or write it with a colorful pen, your brain is alerted that what it is taking in is important. Be careful though that you are not simply highlighting everything because then you are back to square one.
#7. Smelling Rosemary
Certain scents like rosemary can drastically improve short term and long term memory. It causes an increase in a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.
A little study hint for you students out there – while you are studying, have a rosemary plant nearby and take a whiff periodically. It can stimulate your memory and make you more alert and accurate in your studies. And just before the test, smell the rosemary yet again to stimulate your brain to recall the needed material – one of the useful techniques used to improve memory.
To learn more about the link between smells and memory, watch this YouTube video from SciShow.
Memory is critical to our day to day lives. We rely on it with every single task we carry out – from simply typing this paragraph to how to apply the Pythagorean Theorem when cutting tiles for the bathroom floor.
If you are starting to find that your memory is not quite what it used to be, I hope that the techniques used to improve memory I discussed in this article are useful to you.
I would love to hear about the little tricks you use to improve your memory!