This happened only yesterday. Despite taking the help of sticky notes to help me remember them, I was not able to remember passwords, the titles of a couple of books and the fact that I had to take a pair of trousers with me. This set me worrying and I have since taken note of the suggestions on HowStuffWorks to improve my memory. I wish to review some of the methods or tips mentioned there and though I cannot guarantee that all of them will surely help you, they are definitely worth trying out. You can look at them and decide on a combination of some of them depending on the lifestyle you are currently leading.
So here goes.
a) Cut down your drinking binge
Alcohol has this strange property of making you feel good for that moment and you really feel you are on top of the world. It does help you forget your troubles and worries but that feeling is pretty temporary. Once you are back to your senses, you begin to wonder how and why you did some of the things you did and may also start forgetting things gradually. It can thus have a deleterious effect on your memory.
The positive news is that drinking occasionally may be useful and some research has indicated that moderate drinkers tend to have better memory and have been able to perform better when subjected to certain memory tests. Their cognitive abilities have also been found to be even better than non drinkers and those who drink heavily.
b) Become cheerful and come out of that depression mode
Not many are aware that prolonged bouts of depression leads to an increase in the levels of cortisol and that in turn has a pretty bad effect on the hippocampus or the place that helps you get rid of short-term memory. This will make it tough for you to remember new things.
So while it is indeed difficult to shake off depression, it might be worthwhile to identify the root cause and seek expert help as well as guidance to help you come out of it through appropriate remedial measures.
c) Engage in physical activity
Do not be lazy and avoid physical exercise as that will only make matters worse and over time as you become a couch potato, you will begin to experience drastic memory loss problems. The human brain needs to get its quota of chemicals, proper blood supply and other nutrients and that can happen only when the body is active. When you exercise and this need not be power lifting or heavy weight lifting exercises. You only need to walk briskly daily for about half an hour or do some floor exercises or aerobics to ensure that you sweat enough and allow the release of endorphins. These feel good chemicals directly impacts your memory retention ability and hectic physical exercise ensures that the flow of blood to the brain is regular and consistent. When the blood flow is consistent, the supply of oxygen is also good and that keeps the memory cells active. Exercise is beneficial for your whole body.
d) Get into the habit of visualizing
The methods suggested in HowStuffWorks for the visualization process would seem a bit odd but the idea is to understand the concept and how it can benefit you.
Suppose you position your eyeglasses on a dining table. Now you should imagine that these eyeglasses are actually eating the food on the table. Your brain will now park the image in its bank. This should help you in future remember where you had kept your eyeglasses as the image of your eyeglasses eating food is something very unusual and therefore you are unlikely to forget it.
e) Pay attention and do not get distracted
This suggestion appears to be a very obvious one but you would be surprised as to how many people are not able to follow this simple tip. People tend to just hear and not listen since they are easily distracted by something or the other that happens around them. For instance, if you are watching TV and also listening to what your friend is saying, it is likely that your brain would not be able to recall everything that your pal mentioned. However, if you had paid undivided attention to him, it is more than likely that you would be able to recount what he told you with greater accuracy.
f) Linking words with each other
All of us do face this problem of not being able to recall certain names – first or last. That is because we have tried to memorize them without linking those words to anything similar. If you are able to do this, you will find that the chances of you forgetting names will go down drastically. All you have to do is link a particular word with a similar sounding word. For instance somebody with a last name of Purdy can be linked to pretty. It may appear to be quite ridiculous but can be very useful.
g) Aggregate or cluster numbers or words together
Another technique which helps is lumping words or numbers in particular together. For example if you have a problem with remembering telephone numbers, then you can try to remember those numbers in chunks. These are better stored by your brain and you would be able to recall them much sooner than bigger strings of information. You may also add specific words to the string for added effect and better recollection ability.
h) Emulate Hannibal Lecter
This person was known to use a method called loci or the technique of associating locations to information he wanted to remember. Hannibal Lecter would visualize the look of the location and picturize objects placed within the location in order to make it convenient for him to remember stuff. You too can similarly associate the look of a home or street to associate those with the information you wish to remember.
i) Be aware of your surroundings
You need to make better use of the environment around you and be aware of the things lying around to help you memorize or remember tasks. You will have to deliberately place those objects within sight as well. For instance, if you wish to make a copy of something onto a CD, then you can keep the blank one on your table so that the next time you see it, you will remember that you intended to take a copy.
j) Do not shy away from repetition
They say that practice makes perfect. So if you wish to remember a telephone number then you need to keep repeating the number as often as you can so that your brain is able to store it. You can test it by trying to recall the number after some time and if you are still not able to recollect, it means you need to repeat it some more times till you get it right.
The above methods are sure to be of great help to you and you only need to give them some time to produce the desired results.