Most people, unless they have a photographic memory, have problems with short term memory to some degree. I have a very difficult time remembering names, and even items that I need at the grocery store. If you are like me and can’t remember where you placed your keys, don’t fret-help is on the way! The first thing you should do is to stop reinforcing your belief that you have a bad memory, because the more you believe this about yourself, the worse your memory will get. Now begin to stimulate your brain with new information every day.
There are other ways to improve your memory. I have a problem remembering names. It was embarrassing for me to go to church and not know the people that I saw every week. I have gotten better in this regard by doing a little mental exercise. If you have a problem remembering names when you meet someone, try this, because it really works. When meeting my friend Mike for the first time, he gave me his name, and I repeated it back to him. I said, “I’m pleased to meet you Mike, I’m Charlene.” For me, just saying his name isn’t enough for me to remember over time, I have to say the name silently to myself a few times, and then I have to use association. Mike was wearing a green tie that day, so I always think of that tie when I think of his name. When I think of my pastor’s wife, Carol, I think of her salt and pepper hair. When I think of Ed I think of his “unibrow”. Most people have two eyebrows, but my friend Ed has one with no break in the middle over his nose… so there are tricks to remembering names.
It is imperative to reduce stress when you are trying to improve your memory. If there is a lot of clutter in my mind from distractions, it is hopeless to even try. Before getting busy with the task of trying to memorize a lesson for school, or work do something to clear your mind. You can do stretching exercises, put on some soft music, or do some yoga exercises. Once you feel rejuvenated you can concentrate on the task at hand. Another thing that is important, that you might not think about, is regular exercise. Exercise stimulates circulation to all parts of the body, which includes your brain.
Did you know your diet is important to memory? Eating fruits and vegetables like strawberries, blueberries, broccoli and spinach are full of the vitamins and minerals and antioxidants that your brain needs to be healthy. It also helps to eat 6 small meals a day rather than 3 larger ones each day, because with 3 meals a day your blood sugar has a chance to dip down low. When your blood glucose is low your brain functioning is less efficient.
If you are studying for a test, repeat the information that you expect to be on the test. Do more than repeat words, but make mental pictures also. If you are studying chemistry, and you have to remember an equation, think about the finished product. Just for an easy example, when I was studying chemistry the equation for sodium chloride (NaCl-table salt), I thought of a salt shaker full of salt. When I thought of Zinc Oxide (ZnO), I thought of a tube of Desitin Ointment-the ointment I used on my daughter at diaper changes. The point I am making is to make an association in your mind to better remember what it is you need to remember. The more you practice, the better you will get doing it. Most of us are visual, meaning that we remember more of the images we see, so it makes sense to form images in our minds when trying to learn new things.
I have found it helps me to free my mind up of other things if I don’t have to remember so much of the trivial stuff, by keeping a daily planner on my desk. I write down doctor appointments, and when bills are due each month. I make notes of everything so I won’t forget. It might help you if you do that, or keep a pocket pilot to enter in all your information. I also keep a back up of things I need to remember in my cell phone.
If I don’t get enough sleep, my short term memory is just gone. I believe you have to have adequate sleep for your brain to function efficiently. Taking care of myself, and taking small measures to help improve my recall helped me a great deal in improving my memory. I believe if you practice some of these techniques you will also have a better memory.