Many people think that memory problems are to be expected. They blame it on age, ADD, stress, and a myriad of other causes. You do not have to simply accept memory problems, however, as there are things you can do to remove the obstacles to your memory capacity so you can remember more information much easier. Try these tips to remember darn near anything more easily:
Many of the memory issues faced by people today are caused by stress and by spreading themselves too thin. In most cases, people forget things because they didn’t truly focus on them to start with. Whenever you are studying or receiving information you need to remember, clear your mind of everything else and focus completely on the task at hand. It takes about eight seconds to process data into your brain’s memory centers, so the process is relatively fast if you are truly focused. Avoid multitasking or allowing your thoughts to wander.
Build a Learning Environment
Determine the type of environment that allows you to learn best. Do you need total quiet, or are you more relaxed with some background music or noise? Create a learning environment that allows you to focus fully. It is also helpful to determine your learning style so you can incorporate helpful elements into your study area.
Incorporate All Senses
Involve all your senses when studying to ensure that you are fully activating your brain’s processing centers. Read silently and aloud, record important facts to listen to later. Write down notes and draw diagrams that will help make the information concrete. Repeat the actions several times to help make the memory more stable. By making diagrams, charts, and note cards, you can help yourself retain information much more easily.
Mnemonics are memory devices that can help you remember things. You can use visual images, sentences, rhymes, music, and other tools to help you remember large amounts of information quickly. When creating mnemonics, remember that colorful and three-dimensional images are easier to remember. Silly sentences are also more memorable than plain sentences, so try to create word groups that will stick in your mind when memorizing lists of information. Alliteration is also a powerful tool. If you have groups of words to remember, try to clump them together by letters.
Disorganized individuals experience more memory issues than those who are well organized. When your life is organized, more of your brain is free to learn and remember information. Write things down in the appropriate places and in a way that will make it easy to reference. Use lists to remember things like groceries and chores so you can stop focusing on them and move on to more important information.
You cannot overdo learning. As soon as possible after a class, spend at least 30 minutes reviewing and processing the information. If you have notes, consolidate them into a more manageable system that will depict the broader idea or concept. Then, over the following few days, review the notes and information at regular intervals. This spaced repetition is much more effective than the cramming method used by most students. Review the material until you know it by heart. The more thoroughly you learn something, the faster you can recall it and the longer you will remember it.
If you think you can’t learn something, you probably won’t. Set your thought processes by determining why you want to learn the information and how it will help you achieve your goals. Believe in your ability to learn and remember. This type of thought sends signals to your brain that cause it to be more receptive to true retention and understanding.
Regular physical activity increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which improves function. A combination of aerobic activities and strength training of at least 30 minutes at a time on most days will enhance your learning and memory drastically. As you provide your body with regular exercise, your hippocampus, or memory center, receives more blood and oxygen and functions much more effectively. As an added benefit, regular exercise will release chemicals that reduce depression and anxiety and provide you with enhanced overall well-being, making it even easier to learn and remember new information.
Manage Your Stress
Stress causes your adrenal gland to release cortisol, which damages the hippocampus. Stress also produces protein kinase C, which has been proven to impair short-term memory and prefrontal cortex function. This damages your ability to concentrate and remember. Use physical exercise, soothing music, jokes, and time with friends and family to relieve and manage stress.
To achieve maximum memory consolidation, you need at least eight hours of restful sleep each night. This allows your brain to process all of the day’s incoming information and to store it in the appropriate memory centers. You should also limit caffeine intake, quit smoking, and eat a healthy diet. All of these steps improve your overall health and allow you to improve your memory. Finally, stay properly hydrated by drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day. Since the healthy human brain is approximately 80% water, even slight dehydration can have a severe impact on learning and memory function.
Memory abilities are affected by a large number of factors. Luckily, most of these are within our personal control. By following these tips and strategies, you can go from absent-minded to alert and can remember information more easily than you ever believed possible.