Whether it’s to retain what you’re studying or to remember someone’s name at a party, we all want a better memory. Many people think their current capacity to remember things is set in stone, but you can do a lot of things to improve your memory.
Your brain is like your body; if you exercise it, it gets stronger. So follow these steps as your new mental fitness plan.
Your mental cardio: maintaining your mental endurance.
You probably already know that different people learn things different ways. Some are visual learners, while others are more tactile or auditory. Knowing the best way you absorb information is the first step towards storing it. Always play to your brain’s strengths.
Get in the habit of rehearsing, repeating and re-writing things. The more times you can imprint something in your mind, the easier it is to recall later. This helps you develop a familiarity and comfort level with the information too.
Acronyms and association can help your day-to-day life, just like they’ve probably helped you study. Yes, the simple acronym FACE helped you remember the treble staff in music class, but they also help doctors get through the complexity of medical school. They work, so use them where you can.
Mnemonics devices like these can be invaluable; it’s like giving your brain a hint when it’s trying to remember something.
Your mental weightlifting: boosting your mental strength
Neurobic exercises were designed by Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center. They keep your brain sharp and active by simply mixing up everyday tasks.
An example is writing with your non-dominant hand for a little while. Going lefty gets new parts of your brain involved in writing while engaging and challenging your mind.
Other Neurobic exercises include taking a new route home from work or school, shopping in an unfamiliar store, or getting dressed with your eyes closed.
Your mental diet: healthy brain food
We’re not going to even touch any miracle “brain pills” out there. There’s no quick fix or food that will magically boost your IQ by 50 or give you a mental PVR; just like no pill will cause you to lose 25 lbs.
Research shows that B vitamins (particularly B6, B12, and folic acid) are good. They’re found in dark green veggies like asparagus and broccoli, or citrus fruits and melons. You can also load up on Antioxidants like vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene from berries, green tea or nuts. It’s also a good idea to get plenty Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in freshwater fish.
Your mental sports drink: what gives you wings
You may think caffeine from energy drinks, coffee or pop will help your memory by stimulating your brain, but it can do as much harm as good. Granted, caffeine can help improve cognitive functions. But it can also affect your mood and sleep patterns, which will hurt your concentration.