A good memory is an asset for life, and essential for everyone on this planet. Imagine a computer or a smartphone with abysmally low memory, and you can understand how memory puts a limit to functionality. The same is the case with human beings. Not everyone is endowed with a great memory, but there is no reason why anyone can not improve his.
Memory and speed reading both self-compliment each other.The mastering of one helps to develop the another and vice-versa.Comprehensive ability also improves once you train your brain to memorise more.
The earlier notion prevalent was that the brain develops early in life and thereafter there can be no further development, and the brain loses its nerve cells with every passing year. It was also believed that the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine slows down with age.
However, modern scientific research has proved that this does not hold true anymore. It has been observed that hippocampus, where memories are stored in the brain, has the ability to grow new neurones. This process is known as neurogenesis, and this ability exists even during old age. Thus, it is entirely possible to improve our memory at whatever age we are in. Our brain is an incredible piece of creation. It has the ability to adapt and change, make new neural connections and pathways. This ability of the brain is called neuroplasticity.
These and many other amazing powers of our brain remains unutilized. We can teach ourselves to harness these and bring about a great improvement in our memory and life. Some of these techniques are given here, which also involve a change in your lifestyle and habits. These techniques will improve your overall health as well. Remember the saying; a healthy mind resides in a healthy body. These techniques start with the simplest ones and the most specific ones, which require some degrees of efforts, appear later.
Technique #1: Eat the Right Food
There is a popular saying, “You are what you eat.” It is true; diet plays a very important role in our life, especially with our memory. While ensuring a balanced diet, we must ensure that these important ingredients must be present in your daily food intake:
Omega-3 fatty acids
These are vital for brain development, and also prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease during old age.
Fishes like salmon, tuna, trout, sardines etc. are the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids. For the vegetarians, walnuts, ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, kidney and pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds soybeans etc are a good source.
These protect the brain cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals. Colourful fruits and green vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower etc. are rich in anti-oxidants. Eat more fruits, dry fruits like walnuts are memory-improving super-foods. Green tea contains polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant which enhances memory and mental alertness.
It is a flavonoid which improves blood flow to the brai. It is found in grape juice, cranberry juice, grapes, different kind of berries, and peanuts.
A daily intake of Vitamin B12 (2.4 micrograms), Vitamin D (1,000 IU) boosts cognitive function.
About 35 ml of Coconut Oil which contains MCT or medium-chain triglycerides is beneficial for memory enhancement.
Drink plenty of water, as it helps flush out harmful toxins.
Avoid refined sugar and alcohol.
Avoid red meat as it contains omega-6 fatty acids, which may contribute to brain inflammation which leads to Alzheimer’s.
Technique #2: Get Adequate Sleep Every Night
A person should sleep for 8 hours every night, for during the phases of deep sleep, the brain transfers information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Sound restful sleep also reduces stress.
Get into a regular sleep routine every night and wake up at the same time every morning, irrespective of Sundays or holidays. For best memory-improvement results, it is best to sleep before 10 pm and get up by 6 am or earlier.
Technique #3: Maintain a Regular Exercise Regimen
Physical exercises improve the lung capacity which increases the oxygen supply to the brain. It promotes the helpful brain proteins known as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which triggers chemicals that promote neural health. The net effect is stimulation of nerve cells to multiply and make new neural connections.
Exercises also enhance the release of serotonin, the feel-good hormone that reduces stress.
Some of the best exercises for improving memory, are :
• Walking, jogging and running.
• Sports and games that require fast reflexes and eye-and-body co-ordination and movements.
Technique #4: Stop Multitasking, Start Meditating
In this digital age, everyone goes for multitasking. Multitasking deprives us of the expertise and joy one can get if focusing on only one task at a time, and actually inhibits overall efficiency.
Multitasking also hampers good effective communication and contributes to the deterioration of relationship with family or friends. No one would feel happy if you are with them and keep on talking on phone or texting messages.
Multitasking makes people forgetful. You can’t remember where you kept your car keys while you were talking on the phone. It takes about 8 seconds to register information in the memory. So if you focus on the task of keeping your keys and take about 8 seconds consciously doing it, you will remember it next time.
Meditation is the anti-dote for multitasking and the inability to focus between distractions. Meditation helps you get an undistracted focus and improves concentration, creativity, memory, and learning and reasoning abilities. It calms the mind and stops distracting thoughts coming and interfering with the chosen task.
Brain images show that regular meditation activates the left prefrontal cortex, which is associated with feelings of happiness and brings equanimity even during sad and critical moments of life. It also positively affects the cerebral cortex and promotes more neural connections to improve memory and thinking abilities.
Scientific Studies have also proved that meditation helps improve mental health by combating depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
20-30 minutes of meditation session concluding with total relaxation in the Shavasana or the corpse pose, would keep your mind relaxed and focused for the day.
Technique #5: Learn and Master a New Skill
Learning and developing a passion for a new skill which is mentally stimulating, improves brain activities and enhances memory functions. This holds true at any age. However, the activity chosen should not be mechanical and merely repetitive, but creative and mentally challenging. These new brain-boosting skills must have these key elements:
• It teaches something entirely new.
• It should be challenging.
• It should be a skill with levels of expertise.
• It should be rewarding.
Learning to play chess, guitar or any other musical instrument, gardening, any new art and craft like painting, writing, learning a new language etc. are such brain-stimulating activities that are creative, interesting and meaningful. Playing puzzles like Sudoku and crosswords also improve memory and delay brain decline.
Technique #6: Learn and Use Mnemonic Devices
Mnemonic devices are memory tools, which you can create yourself, to arrange names, words, information or concepts in an easy to remember format.
Learn to make acronyms with the first letter of the words that you want to remember.
For example: Use VIBGYOR to remember the order of colours in a rainbow or spectrum, i.e. Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red
Make sentences with the first letter of each word which you want to remember.
Example: To remember the names of the planets and their order from the sun; Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (Pluto is no longer considered a planet now), remember this sentence where the names of the planets start with the first letter of each word:
“My Very Easy Method Just Set Up Nine Planets.”
Rhymes and alliteration
make rhymes and alliteration, a repeating sound or syllable, to remember facts and figures.
Example: The rhyme “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November” helps remember the months having only 30 days.
Chunking is breaking a long numbers or information into smaller, more manageable and memorable ‘chunks’.
Example: Instead of trying to remember a 10 digit mobile number, 9039852386. iy is easier to remember if broken into three chunks : 903-985-2386.
Visual Image Association and Linking
Make a mental picture, easy to remember, comical and exaggerated, of people, words or information, in your mind.
For example, to remember a dentist’s appointment at 11 am, picture a watch showing 11 o’clock on which a single tooth in blood is placed.
To remember a name, say Donald Parker, remember the picture of Donald duck strolling in a park. Indian names are more meaningful which renders easy visualisation.
Method of Loci
This is an ancient Greek technique of visualisation for remembering a number of objects, where an easy to remember the chain of items is placed in the familiar background.
Example: To remember a shopping list, imagine milk cartons at the doorsteps, bananas hanging on the door, eggs on the table, bread all over the sofa etc.
Technique #7: Live a Happy Blessed Life
Living a healthy and happy life boosts memory and power to recall. A few steps leading to such a productive life are listed below.
Get Your Life Organized
A cluttered, disorganised life brings about forgetfulness. Organise your home and workplace well, setting aside a place for everything.
Use your smart phone or keep a day-planner to note tasks, appointments and other events of the day or week.
Taking notes and writing down names, important information, conversation and discussions reinforce learning and remembering.
Repeat a name or information when you hear it the first time.
Socialize Regularly with Friends and Relatives
A rich and happening social life prevents stress and depression, which has been found in research to prevent memory decline.
Laugh a lot
Unlike other emotions, laughter engages multiple regions across the brain and thus is very beneficial for memory. Join a Laughter Club and attend every morning. Be with fun-loving and playful people. Spend time with children. Keep funny toys around to cheer you up. Put up a happy family picture or funny poster, screen saver or poster around you.
These tips will not only improve your memory, they will continue to keep it sharp and also lead to a better, more fulfilling life.