Many people consider their memory to be something set in stone that can only degenerate with age. After all, we aren’t as likely to see advertisements for memory-strengthening exercises as we are for the next miraculous fat-burning herbal drink.
Still, despite how underrepresented the opportunity may be, it is very possible to take your memory to the next level. Human memory capacity isn’t just some static number that people born with and bound to for their entire lives; it’s a complex interaction of sensory cues, mnemonics, and learned visual representation skills.
To put it simply, memory is a skill that can always be sharpened and demands conditioning. Though our minds might feel more or less set in their ways after a lifetime of experiences, they never fully lose their plasticity.
With consistency and patience, you can gradually recondition your mind to have greater mental storage space and swifter recall ability. The following are just a few of the effective ways to improve memory that can be done relatively easily.
Make physical activity a priority
Making a commitment to regular physical activity is one of the best things that you can do for your overall cognitive ability. Aerobic activity galvanizes and refreshes the brain, clearing it of fog and clutter that make it more difficult to remember small details accurately.
You don’t necessarily have work out to the point of exhaustion. Even just twenty to thirty minutes of light aerobics, 3 to 5 times a week, can bring about a surprising level of clarity.
Challenge yourself mentally on a regular basis
The brain may not be a skeletal muscle, but it still needs to feel the burn to stay in stop form. Challenging the mind can be accomplished with anything from math problems to logic riddles in newspapers.
Just as physically underutilized muscles might be more prone to soreness from unfamiliar workouts, doing puzzles and mental games might create some strain if you haven’t already made a habit of it; however, if you endure it and press on, the brain will develop into a much more capable and powerful organ altogether.
Commit to full night’s rest whenever possible
Sleep is when our minds have uninterrupted time to process what we’ve learned. Many people underestimate the effect of their sleep deprivation, and even when aware of it, the majority don’t make a concentrated effort to address it.
Failing to get one good night’s rest may not be disastrous, but over the course of weeks or months, a person may have conditioned themselves to go through life with only a fraction of their complete cognitive fluidity. Getting a full night’s sleep after learning new material will give your mind hours of uninterrupted time to consolidate that information completely.
Experiment with new mnemonic strategies
When you have to remember long lists or unfamiliar formulas, the task can be made much easier through creative abbreviations. Instead of trying too hard to remember each individual letter of a complex term or formula, try inventing a simple anagram in which each letter stands for a different word of the entire phrase. You can take things even farther by imaging the anagram being spoken in a unique tone.
Use dynamic visual representation for important text
When reading over a large amount of important text without much white space between the rows, it’s natural to feel your eyes glaze over a bit. For material that can’t be skimmed, it may help to visualize each important word on the page “flashing” in your favorite color as you read it.
While it may be impossible to remember each and every detail, visualizing flashing words can make it easier to mentally embed the most important parts. By using your favorite color, your can personalize foreign information into a more easily welcomed form.
The above ways to improve memory aren’t intended to make your memorization skills flawless, but given time, their combined effects can make worlds of difference. Memory improvements will be subtle and gradual, but eventually, you may come to surprise yourself at what you can recall at a moment’s notice.