Forgetting things or fading memory can be frustrating and diminish your quality of life. But there are some easy and effective ways you can use brain and memory strengthening methods, many of which will fit right into your life, to enhance and retain your memory.
Here are some fun and easy tips for giving your brain a workout at any age:
Play Some Music
You may have been told to "turn that music down!" when you were studying for a test or doing your homework. But, your mom probably didn't realize how much music can actually boost memory. Anyone who has ever got a song "stuck in my head" knows how ingrained musical memories can be.
Music has been found to stimulate parts of the brain. Studies with classical music especially have demonstrated that it enhances the memory of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Listening to music actually triggers the brain's electrical impulses to grow new dendrites, those branch-like cells at the ends of our neurons.
Music can help people of all ages—children to old aged—to retain information and enhance learning. Sounds can help to hold our attention, evoke emotions, and stimulate visual images. Students generally find that music helps them focus more clearly on the task at hand. Probably because music provides some pleasure while doing unpleasant tasks like homework!
Prepare a Favorite Dish from Your Childhood
Foods from our past can evoke powerful memories. Whether it's the rhubarb pie your grandmother showed you how to make, with fresh rhubarb from your Midwest farm garden, or the bagels and lox you had every Sunday morning in your Manhattan high rise kitchen with your parents, connecting to your past can strengthen your memory.
Beyond alleviating some nostalgia, making something with something from the past helps you remember the skills and concepts you were taught, to make that rhubarb pie, for example.
Admit it. You've put your friend on speaker while you prepared dinner, or read your email, while she was pouring her heart out to you over her latest problem. While most of us learned that multitasking is a sign of competency, heroic even, divided attention almost always yields mediocre results. It's embarrassing, and not very supportive, when you have to ask a friend to retell a story they've already told you. Or for your boss to have to repeat instructions.
Every task you tackle or relationship you interact with deserves your fullest attention. When you give things your full attention, you'll not only have better recall later, you'll also more fully experience the moment. Not only will you do a better job—of listening or problem solving— you'll be more efficient and your friends will trust you more.
Being fully present allows for your brain to store the memory of the moment more efficiently, rather than dumping the information into your mental archives. An excellent way to stay present in both mind, emotions and body is through Body Tapping
or similar exercises that convert your mental process into a feeling state, integrating both body and brain.
Play Brain Games
Give your brain something to hang onto with puzzles, riddles, tongue twisters, and physical exercises that help with left brain/right brain integration
. PowerBrain instructor Dave Beal's "Pinky & Thumb" exercise (at 15 min. 25 sec.) is an especially fun way to give your brain a workout. Just a few minutes playing these types of brain games can help both your short-term and long-term memory.
One of the reasons we like doing mindless things like playing video game or drumming our fingers on a table is because it gives our brains a rest and a chance to recharge. Just as we sometimes need to just reboot our computers or reset a circuit breaker in an electrical box, our brains could use a break from the onslaught of information that comes at us every second of every day. While we don't want to ever completely shut down our brains, we can use exercises such as Jitalk
, a practice in speaking gibberish, to give our grey matter a warm and fuzzy energetic head rub.
When you've cleared your mental space, memories have a fresh place to take root.
Make Scents of Your Memory
Our sense of smell has a powerful emotional undercurrent that can anchor experiences and information in our brains as well as, if not better than, our vision or hearing. New studies for understanding the sense of smell and our olfactory receptors' role in memory have shown a powerful link between our sense of smell and evocative emotional memories. You've probably had the experience of taking a whiff of an old leather jacket, or woodsmoke, and being instantly transported to the back of your dad's motorcycle when you were a little kid, or back to that old lakeside cabin with your family.
To help you retain information and for better recall, try the rosemary trick: when you are studying or practicing a new skill, put some fresh rosemary within smelling distance. Then, when it's time to take a test or apply your new skill, take another whiff of rosemary. Your brain will link the scent back to the information it received when you first smelled it!
Try out some of these lifestyle changes to start improving your memory. Maybe they'll inspire even more creative memory improving tricks!