12 top tips to improve your memory
Are you one of those people that can remember the lyrics to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, but can’t remember what you popped to the corner shop for? You need these tips urgently…
Train your brain: Play word games, turn off your GPS and use a map, learn a language, take up a new hobby. Using your brain in a way that you usually don’t helps to strengthen memory. One study showed that using a brain-training app over a four-week period helped adults improve their performance in memory tests, while brain games have also been shown to reduce the risk of dementia in older people. Get that crossword out today and have a go.
Down a cup of coffee: Often feel like your brain can’t function until your morning coffee? Well there could be something in that. Caffeine has been shown to help improve long-term memory, with older people who drink several cups of coffee or tea over the day experiencing fewer memory problems than their peers who drank less. Double espresso anyone?
Turn up the music: Cranking up the music can help with concentration and memory, and while you may think a nice piece of classical music is best for boosting your brain, one study showed that music with faster beats can actually stimulate the brain to give a better response.
Meditate: The theory goes that when you’re able to focus better, you’re able to store all those important things in your short-term memory. We’re a multi-tasking nation, which isn’t always great for our memory, so take time out to meditate daily for a few minutes and you should see an improvement fairly quickly in your short-term memory.
Stuff your face with chocolate: Yes, there is a god! Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids, which are really good for your brain. Not only do they help blood vessels and neurons grow, but they also increase blood flow in the part of the brain involved with the memory. Choose chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more to get those brain boosting benefits.
Chew some gum: This is no willy-nilly chewing though, this is chewing gum while you’re learning something. There’s no solid science behind this but it’s thought that chewing helps improve our memory because it increases activity in the hippocampus (a part of the brain, not a hippo university sadly). What have you got to lose? It might help you recall your shopping list and will definitely leave you with fresh-smelling breath!
Pop a pill: Omega-3 is the holy grail of brain supplements. The fatty acid is important in building those essential parts of the brain responsible for memory, emotion and attention.
Get physical: Olivia Newton John knew what she was talking about when she released Let’s Get Physical… What do you mean she wasn’t singing about improving your memory?! Exercise raises levels of a protein that helps form new brain cells. It also increases oxygen, which promotes connectivity between brain cells.
Hang out with your mates: Yep, having an active social life is not only fun but it’s also good for your memory. In studies, people with a good social life were shown to have the slowest rate of decline in their memory, while as little as ten minutes of conversation with a friend helps improve your memory. Pass us the phone!
Chill out: We live in an age where everyone is super busy, but constantly being on the go can be really bad for our brains. In fact, 10-15 minutes of thinking in the quiet, away from whatever task you’re doing, will help you solidify what you’ve just learnt/written down/remembered you need to do.
Create a visual journey: Memory experts are good at remembering because they create a visual journey. For example, if you have to remember to call Mike and ask about fitting your new ceiling light, you could imagine picking up a mike and singing a duet of Ray Of Light with Madonna.
The more vivid and absurd the visual images are, the more likely you are to remember. This is because your brain stores and recalls images much more easily than words, so get creative and make your everyday chores into a visual feast that Disney would be proud of.
Write it down: Your brain is more active when you’re physically writing things down rather than automatically typing them out. One study found that students who took notes by hand had better recall. Take it one step further and do a mind map – a visual way of recording your thoughts. It combines visuals with writing so will help you remember what you need to do. Also, it’s much more interesting than writing a boring old list!