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Two key benefits of improving your memory are that it can help improve your time management skills and boost your productivity. This, in turn, can help you work more effectively. So, if you wish to improve your memory — and by extension increase your productivity — taking steps to improve your overall health is a good starting point.
Later, we’ll share some cool brain training apps you can download and use to help increase your mental agility and sharpen your memorisation skills. First, though, we’ll go through some simple lifestyle changes you can make to boost your memory and share some tips on how you can guard your memory against stress.
Let’s get into it.
3 lifestyle changes to sharpen your memory
If you introduce even one of these things into your daily routine, it can help improve your memory over time, as well as do wonders for your overall health.
The brain needs oxygen to function. Exercise improves the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, and activities such as running and other aerobic exercises have been found to be linked to having better episodic memory in later years. It activates the production of a protein, cathepsin B, increasing the levels of it in your blood. Cathepsin B triggers the growth of new neurons and the formation of new connections in the hippocampus, an area of the brain critical for memory.
But don’t rush to don your exercise gear immediately after learning something new. Give yourself enough time to absorb the information before doing some aerobic exercise. It seems that a delay of about 4 hours proves more effective for learning.
Get a good night’s sleep
In an earlier post, we talked about how power naps can make you more productive. It turns out they are also just the thing to help boost your memory too. One study found those who had a full 8 hours of sleep after learning new faces could recall them better than those who did not get enough rest. Thus, Dumay posits that sleep can help keep us from forgetting things and promote better recall.
Sleep, it seems, is vital for learning and memory. When deprived of sleep, neurons become over-stressed because there is too much electrical activity in the brain, so new memories cannot be stored. If you get a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep you will go through a restorative phase of sleep in which your brain reinforces and sorts facts, figures, and unfamiliar words you came across during the day. This consolidation improves our retention, so if we don’t get enough uninterrupted sleep, we are more likely to forget things.
You might have seen this one coming. The third best thing you can do to improve your memory is to try to eat a little healthier. Saturated fats have been linked to poorer memory because a build-up of cholesterol in the brain serves to deprive it of oxygenated blood and can therefore have a detrimental effect on both your thinking and memory.
Diets rich in vegetables and unsaturated fats, like the Mediterranean diet, have been linked to multiple studies into better memory and slower cognitive decline.
Next, we’ll explore ways you can improve your memory even when you’re stressed out.
Tips to guard your memory against ongoing stress
Ultimately, to protect your memory in the face of continuous stress, you must identify the sources of that stress and devise strategies to minimise or ways to react differently to them. There are several ways you can do this, but what follows are some things you may want to include when you create your own stress-busting memory protection plan.
- Write down as many stressors in your life as possible. Next, work out which ones can be eliminated from your life. If you have commitments you can drop, doing so will be a good start. Learning how to say no to some things is an excellent way to avoid becoming overwhelmed by stress.
- Delegate tasks and ask your colleagues for help so that you’re not undertaking more than your fair share of work.
- Use an organiser or diary to rid yourself of needing to keep appointments and events in your head. This will help you make sure you don’t double book our overcommit yourself.
- Write various to-do lists, so you won’t waste time wondering what to do next or fretting about what you might have forgotten. They will also help ensure you always take on your most difficult tasks first. You might want to create a to-do list for the week ahead, and one focusing on your long-term goals.
- Forget about being perfect. Striving to do well is a laudable aim, but trying to be perfect, apart from being unrealistic, puts you under unnecessary on you that may come to either put your health in jeopardy or paralyse you completely. So, don’t be too hard on yourself.
- When you notice physical signs of stress, take a moment to breathe. Take long, slow breaths, letting the air out slowly after each inhale. This can help redirect your attention to the task at hand and reduce your stress levels.
- Make time each day for self-care. To help manage stress, go for a walk, take a warm bath, or dive into a good novel. Remember to make time to have some fun so you can return to work refreshed.
- Pursue a new hobby. By focusing on something you enjoy, you can take your mind off your problems and worries for a while and give both your body and mind a break, and reduces the levels of stress hormones in your blood. Check out this earlier post if you want some ideas on productive hobbies you can try.
- Use musical mnemonic to help recall information. Music both encourages repetition and gives information some structure. After all, you can remember a catchy song lyric than a long list of letters and numbers, like a complex password, right? Try it out and see how much more you can remember. Check out some more fantastic memorisation techniques here.
Now it’s time to share some fun and useful apps that can help you develop your memory, sharpen your focus, and hone your problem-solving skills.
Apps to help with memorisation
Here are some useful apps that can aid you in your quest to improve your memorisation skills.
The mini-games Lumosity offers are sure to help keep your brain active and agile as well as inject a bit of fun into your day.
You can use elevate to give yourself a confidence boost and improve your productivity at the same time as you hone your skills. They offer over 40 games to help you improve your maths, reading, speaking, recall, reading, and writing skills.
This app pinpoints your mental strengths and weakness so that you know what areas you must work on to improve. It then tracks your progress. Neuro Nation offers colourful, competitive games so you can test yourself against your friends.
Anki was designed specifically to help you when you must learn a poem, are endeavouring to learn a new language, or trying to memorise complex formulas. It provides several strategies for every discipline, including flashcards.
We’ve mentioned before how flashcards can be a great memorisation aid, and this free service allows you to create online flashcards and share them with others. For example, you may want to share them with your study partner or with the people you are set to give a presentation with.
Peek — Brain Training
Peak — Brain Training is meant to test your limits with intense, short brain training sessions you can fit into your daily routine. You can play these games to develop your ability to focus, memory, problem-solving skills, mental agility, and more.
Kahoot is a fabulous game-based platform that enables you to learn by devising and sharing quizzes and playing other games. You can play them anywhere, be it in an educational setting, a work setting, or a more relaxed setting.
Brainscape is designed specifically for visual learners who rely on using flashcards. You can create electronic flashcards and find flashcards that others have created that you can use.
Regardless of how you choose to go about developing your memorisation skills, and whatever lifestyle changes you make, bear in mind that you will need to be consistent with your approach and keep it up to succeed and improve your memory. You can even use brain training apps like the ones mentioned to have a bit of fun and as a type of self-care. You can then use your improved memory, more developed problem-solving skills, and increased mental agility to start becoming more productive.