Laughter and play
Just watch kids at play sometimes and try to remember how nice it was to have that playful attitude to life.
The thing is, we learn really well when we’re young, and there’s one simple reason – because we’re still treating life as a game. When we start to take life too seriously, that’s when things seem to get tough, and very complicated … and when we find difficulties in all sorts of things, including using our memory effectively (which came competely naturally as a child).
Make a decision to let yourself be a kid again, at least occasionally … just make sure no-one’s watching!
Mentally rehearse memory journeys
If you’ve already planned out some memory journeys, take a few moments to mentally retrace your steps and take a look at what you’ve left in place to remind you of things. If you haven’t yet planned any memory journeys, take a look at the Journey Method, which explains it in some detail.
It’s a very old and very effective memory technique, but, even so, your memory journeys have to be reviewed from time to time to keep them current in your memory. Each time you take a few minutes to review your memory journeys you reinforce those memories. But, more than this, you’re exercising your memory skills, and making them more natural and effective.
Drink plenty of water for memory improvement
Staying well hydrated is actually more important to your health than being well fed. Of course, you can substitute fruit juice for water (or diluted fruit juice, but stay away from sugar-laden soft drinks). Even tea and coffee are mostly water, of course, so they count too!
If you’re concerned about whether you’re drinking enough, just follow Nature’s guidelines – drink when you’re thirsty! No matter what the makers of sports drinks say, there’s no mystery about how to keep properly hydrated. Don’t feel obliged to drink a certain amount a day, or to drink special ‘sports’ drinks. Your body knows what it needs, and it’ll let you know pretty quick if it needs hydrating. Be aware, also, that over-hydrating is potentially dangerous, so never drink to excess. In rare situation, people (e.g. some marathon runners) have been known to die from water intoxication, by continually drinking more and more water, in the mistaken belief that they must keep hydrating.
When you consider than your brain is about 75% water, by weight, you realise how important it is to stay well hydrated (but, remember, go by Nature’s dictates, not those of a marketing company). And isn’t it wonderful that this is one essential we can all make sure we’re getting plenty of, very easily … all you need do is turn the tap on! We all have access to clean water these days, which is one of the greatest ever steps forward in public health – don’t waste this precious commodity by thinking “It’s only plain water!”.
The number one reason for people feeling tired and listless and losing concentration is that they’re dehydrated. And, if you’re not ‘listening to your body’, it happens without you even noticing. Don’t let it happen to you!
Memory improvement? Pet the cat!
Okay, the dog too! It’s a well known fact (and one that’s increasingly being recognised by researchers) that petting and caring for an animal calms a person and can even be effective in lowering high blood pressure. Dogs and cats, if introduced to elderly persons’ rest homes, go a long way to alleviating boredom and loneliness. Hormone levels can be affected as well, so stress seems to be reduced in the presence of a pet. In fact a few minutes stroking your dog or cat prompts the release of so-called ‘feel-good’ hormones such as serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin.
Maybe one of the greatest benefits of having a pet around is that you are responsible for its welfare. That simple fact ‘takes you out of yourself’, in that it moves your attention away from yourself and your problems, most of which, when they’re put under the microscope, very often don’t really amount to very much.
Have some dark chocolate, and enjoy memory improvement!
Yes!! At last! Finally, something wonderful is actually good for you!
The wonderful news is that a recent study suggest dark chocolate (good quality, mind!) helps boost production of ‘good’ cholesterol in the body. It also has higher anti-oxidant levels than some of the fruits on the ‘superfoods’ list, such as blueberries, cranberries and acai berries. It is produced from the cocoa bean, and contains healthy levels of minerals such as copper, magnesium and iron, as well as vitamins (A, B1, B2, D and E). And it is rich in flavonoids, which are anti-oxidants that are thought to naturally boost memory. So go on, to see some memory improvement, enjoy a bit of dark chocolate! 🙂
Dark chocolate is streets ahead of milk chocolate, which doesn’t contain enough cocoa solids, and way too much sugar (it’s also far tastier!). But don’t take this as a licence to pig out – a few squares of good quality dark chocolate each week is all that is recommended (the question is … do you have that kind of self control? Well … do you??).
Memory games are great for memory improvement
Memory improvement should be fun, and memory games can definitely help. These days there are even hand-held ‘brain-training’ games to help you keep on your toes. Staying mentally active and alert is a good move, specially when you’re getting older. There’s even some evidence that it can slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a memory game, as such, to benefit the brain. Gettting ‘lost’ in a good book can be just as engaging, and to make it even better, why not ‘cast’ your characters – imagine well known actors or celebrities in the roles of the characters, or even people you’ve personally known over the years. This will make the characters more rounded and realistic, and allow you to ‘see’ them in more detail.
Remind yourself how good your memory really is
Unless you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury, or some similar catastrophe, you are the proud possessor of a phenomenal memory. Spend just a couple of minutes thinking how much you actually remember on a daily basis and it will astound you. And there are things from your youth, even your childhood, that you can still remember vividly, right? So who are you trying to kid when you say you’ve got a terrible memory!
It might need a bit of work to bring it up to speed, granted, but it’s kinda like a classic car that’s been laid up in a gloomy garage for years … once it gets dusted down and has a bit of work done on it, it’ll run like a dream!
It’s easy to lose focus and drift – we all do it from time to time. Sometimes we allow it to happen and forget to make it un-happen. In cases like this it can go on for a ridiculously long time. It can become a really bad habit, with long term destructive consequences.
How to stay motivated? It takes effort! Ask yourself what you want to achieve. When you have some answers, write them down. Write them in the form of affirmations, stating clearly that you are this way already, that you have achieved (or are achieving) this or that thing already. Don’t live in the future – you know as well as I do that the future never comes, it always stays that little bit in the, er … future. If that’s where you put your achievements, that’s where they’ll stay.
So state your affirmations clearly, and as though you are already the super achiever that you know in your heart you can be. Then read those affirmations every day, twice a day. Drip-feed that positivity into your brain on a regular basis. And believe it! Don’t just read your affirmations as though you’re reading the newspaper – get emotionally involved.
Imagine how great it will be to achieve your goals, how wonderful it will be to drive that new car, to get that job you’ve been dreaming of, or whatever. When you do this every day, your brain gets trained to go after what you want. It gets primed to recognise the opportunities all around. You’ll see things you would otherwise have missed completely. You’ll be ready to take action, which is the other major ingredient in success. You’ll be eager to do it.
Relive a film you really enjoyed
If you have a favourite film, entertain yourself by revisiting it when you have the time (a train journey, a flight, whatever). Instead of having a vague recollection of having enjoyed it, try to recreate it in your imagination, scene by scene. Relax, and take yourself back to the opening credits and try to recall how the film opened. Hear the theme music, and experience the anticipation for the coming movie. Visualise the characters, and try to recall the dialogue between them, and the scenes as they unfold.
This is quite a feat of memory, and I’m not saying you’ll find it easy, but therein lies the challenge, and the value of the exercise. It really is a memory exercise, and a chance to once again enjoy a film you particularly appreciated – maybe even more so this time, since you’re putting so much effort into recreating it!
Mind mapping aids memory improvement
Mind mapping is essentially just an updated version of note taking. The difference is that with mind mapping you end up with an image (an easily updated image), rather than sheets of boring notes, and your mind finds information presented this way easier to digest. You’re able to take in much more of the information much more quickly – you see it all at once, just as you see a work of art all at once. You don’t ‘read’ it, you just absorb it in in one huge intake.
Check out more information on mind mapping and see for yourself if it would suit you as a note-taking system.