How to Improve Your Memory
Wouldn't it be nice to just look at a page and never forget what was on there?
What if you could never again forget a friend's birthday? The bad news is,
almost all scientific experts agree that photographic memory — the ability to
recall facts, images, and events perfectly — simply doesn't exist.
The good news, however, is that everyone can take steps to improve their memory,
and with time and practice most people can gain the ability to memorize
seemingly impossible amounts of information. Whether you want to win the World
Memory Championships, ace your history test, or simply remember where you put
your keys, this article can get you started.
1. Keep your brain active. The brain is not a muscle, but regularly "exercising"
the brain actually does keep it growing and spurs the development of new nerve
connections that can help improve memory. By developing new mental skills —
especially complex ones such as learning a new language or learning to play a
new musical instrument—and challenging your brain with puzzles and games you can
keep your brain active and improve its physiological functioning.
2. Exercise daily. Regular aerobic exercise improves circulation and efficiency
throughout the body, including in the brain, and can help ward off the memory
loss that comes with aging. Exercise also makes you more alert and relaxed, and
can thereby improve your memory uptake, allowing you to take better mental "pictures."
3. Reduce stress. Chronic stress can damage the brain in the long run, and even
temporary stresses can make it more difficult to effectively focus on concepts
and observe things. Try to relax, regularly practice yoga or other stretching
exercises, and see a doctor if you have severe chronic stress.
4. Eat well and eat right. There are a lot of herbal supplements on the market
that claim to improve memory, but none have yet been shown to be effective in
clinical tests (although small studies have shown some promising results for
ginkgo biloba and phosphatidylserine).
A healthy diet, however, contributes to a healthy brain, and foods containing
antioxidants—broccoli, spinach, and berries, for example—and Omega-3 fatty acids
appear to promote healthy brain functioning. Grazing, eating 5 or 6 small meals
throughout the day instead of 3 large meals, also seems to improve mental
functioning (including memory) by limiting dips in blood sugar, which may
negatively affect the brain.
5. Take better pictures. Often we forget things not because our memory is bad,
but rather because our observational skills need work. One common situation
where this occurs (and which almost everyone can relate to) is meeting new
people. Often we don't really learn people's names at first because we aren't
really concentrating on remembering them.
You'll find that if you make a conscious effort to remember such things, you'll
do much better. One way to train yourself to be more observant is to look at an
unfamiliar photograph for a few seconds and then turn the photograph over and
describe or write down as many details as you can about the photograph.