Note: This is a guest post by freelance writer Uma Campbell.
Whether you’re a student with final exams and midterms coming up, or someone who is simply experiencing the natural effects of aging (as much as we’re loathe to admit it, it happens), we all wish we had a better memory. Some believe that a good memory is something born with, but we can all have a good memory; it’s a case of mind over matter. Here are five tips (in no particular order) that are sure to help you stay sharp:
- Create routines for yourself. Always losing your glasses? Make a space where you’ll be sure to remember them—a glasses stand or a simple bowl can be a great option. Or, if you have trouble remembering to floss, make it a rule to floss every time you shower, and you will be more likely to remember. Simple but effective!
- Focus is an important element in memory. These days with excess stimuli constantly coming from our iPads, smartphones, etc., it can be difficult to truly focus. Take some time to unplug; turn off all of your electronic media, and you’ll find that it helps your ability to remember. For example, if you have an important test coming up, make sure to give yourself the peace and quiet to do so.
- Be creative; expand your brain. Sound difficult? It’s not: just by simply taking the time to write down your memories, you drastically improve your recall ability. Some people even find it helpful to keep a memory journal—a book kept handy for birthdays, to-do lists, phone numbers, ideas and more. It has been shown that the simple exercise of writing something down helps your brain retain the information. And if you’re not one for writing? Even repeating something aloud to yourself can help you remember it — you will find that repetition is a key factor in an effective memory.
- Brain exercises can also be helpful. Activities like reading, crossword puzzles, playing music—even watching trivia shows like Jeopardy can help keep your mind sharp and active. Studies have shown that activities like crosswords can slow the effects of dementia. It has also been shown that new activities—be it a class in a discipline you’re not familiar with, or world travel—will improve your ability to recall memories.
- In addition to exercising your mind, actual physical exercise can also help improve your memory. Did you know that dancing, particularly ballroom dancing, is especially good for your memory? According to a 2003 study, it has been shown to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. So, in addition to acting as some light cardio to keep your body in tip-top condition, it can also help to keep your mind on point. If you’re not looking for any strenuous activity, even meditating has been proven to improve your memory. A University of Washington study found that meditating improved your memory by enabling you to concentrate more, remember more details and stay in an overall better mood.
So there you have it: with just a few simple tweaks to your routine, you’ll greatly improve your memory. You might even have a good time while you’re at it: take up ballroom dance, complete the Sunday crossword while watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire, go to string quartet practice, and start writing in a journal—who said improving your memory had to be a chore? To us, it sounds quite fun.
Uma Campbell is a freelance writer from Southern California. She loves learning about natural ways to combat the effects of aging, To view more of her writing, you can visit the Soothing Walls website.