As we age, our memory starts to decline. This natural process can be frustrating and even scary, especially if we rely on our memory for essential things like jobs or taking care of our families.
But don’t despair! There are things you can do to help improve your memory, even as you age. Diet, repetition, looking at visual imagery, sleep and emotions all contribute to a young, sharper memory.
What is Memory?
Memory is the mental faculty of retaining and reviving facts, events, impressions and thoughts. Although we believe that our memory can never fail us and that our precious memories will always stay intact, memory loss is a normal but unavoidable part of aging. Although the process cannot be brought to a halt, you can slow down memory loss with dedication and the proper methods.
The most productive tool to improve memory is simple repetition. The more you repeat something, the more likely you will remember it. This is because repetition creates neural pathways in the brain that make information more accessible.
So, if you want to remember something, say it out loud, write it down or find another way to repeat it several times.
The “spaced repetition” technique is one way to improve your memory. This method involves reviewing information at increasingly longer intervals. For example, if you’re trying to remember a list of vocabulary words, start reviewing the words after an hour, then a day, then a week and so on. Spaced repetition helps your brain store the information in long-term memory so that you can recall it more easily later on.
Emotion and Memory
One memory trick you can try is associating whatever it is you’re trying to remember with an emotion. It could be a happy memory or something that made you feel scared or anxious. The more intense the emotion is, the more likely you will remember what you’re trying to associate it with.
So if you’re trying to remember to buy milk on the way home from work, you could think of a time when you were angry and yelled at someone. The strong emotional reaction will help anchor the memory of needing to buy milk to the feeling, making it more likely that you’ll remember when you’re at the store.
Of course, not every memory must be associated with negative emotion to be effective. If you’re trying to remember your anniversary, for example, you might try to think of a time when you were at your happiest, like the moment when you got engaged or married.
The emotion must be intense enough to help you remember what you’re trying to associate it with. So if you’re having a hard time remembering something, try thinking of a time when you felt a strong emotion around it and see if that helps jog your memory.
The mechanism by which emotions can help with memory is through adrenaline. Adrenaline is secreted in the brain and body in response to physical and emotional stressors. This “fight-or-flight” hormone can help you out in a real-life emergency, but it can also give your memory a boost.
According to research, people who were shown emotionally arousing images had better explicit memory recall than those who viewed neutral images. In addition, the adrenaline released during periods of stress can improve memory encoding, which is the process of getting information into your memory. So if you want to remember something important, try associating it with an emotion.
Sleep is one of the greatest assets in your fight against memory loss. When you sleep, your brain is more efficient at processing and storing information. So, if you’re looking to give your memory a boost, make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye.
Meditation is often thought of as relaxing, de-stressing and focusing. But did you know that meditation can also help improve your memory? A study showed that meditation can improve the subjects’ attention and memory better than, for example, listening to a podcast. So, meditation could be a helpful tool to consider if you’re looking for ways to boost your memory.
Exercise has been found to help with memory recall, so if you’re looking for ways to better your memory, working out may be a splendid option!
There are a few different ways exercise can help improve your memory:
- It increases the amount of oxygen that flows to your brain to keep your brain cells healthy and functioning properly.
- It can help reduce stress and anxiety, leading to better memory function.
- It can improve your sleep quality, which is essential for healthy brain function.
So if you’re looking for ways to boost your memory power, hit the gym or go for a run!
Visual Imagery for Recall
Just like any other skill, you can improve your ability to remember things with practice.
Many different techniques can help you boost your memory power. One simple way to do this is by using visual images. For example, real photographs and mental images can both help lay down memories. So next time you want to remember something, try picturing it in your mind. You may be surprised at how well it works.
Your memory needs a healthy diet if it wants to stay in top-notch shape. Foods such as fish, nuts and leafy greens are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to better cognitive function. Antioxidant-rich food, fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries and tomatoes, can also help keep your memory sharp. If you’re looking to improve your memory, start by eating healthy.
A Parting Reminder
There’s not just one perfect way to improve your memory. The best approach is to experiment with different techniques and find the ones that work best for you. With a little effort, you can train your memory to be better and sharper than ever!