You’ve had it happen hundreds of times. You forget someone’s name, and they look at you like you’re evil. They assume you just don’t care or listen. That’s not the case, though. You are just forgetful! Having a poor memory can jeopardize everything from your personal relationships to your work. Luckily, there are easy things you can do to improve your memory. Here are ten brain tricks that will help you remember anything.
Close Your Eyes
Doing anything with your eyes closed helps boost all of the senses, according to multiple studies. For example, making coffee with your eyes closed can help re-wire the brain to pick up details it normally wouldn’t. Of course, it’d be a good idea to open those eyes when it’s time to pour the coffee!
“Sam needs to clean because he is mean.”
“Mandy needs to make the food because she has an attitude.”
These aren’t the kindest of memory devices, but they’ll get the job done for two reasons. First, they use rhymes and second; they speak some rude truths. Research shows there is a strong connection between emotions and memories. Connecting information with a strong feeling can help to recall that information. You might giggle when creating these sentences, but that will help you remember them and hey—Mandy doesn’t need to know what you think about her attitude.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Senior centers usually have active social schedules for their participants. On them is everything from games of bridge to lectures. According to a study from York University in Toronto, they’re onto something: remaining active keeps the brain sharp. But when it comes to improving memory, people need to be active in activities outside of their comfort zone. In other words, playing sudoku might not do the trick if you do it every day, but learning a new language might.
If dancing makes you uncomfortable even better because it gets you out of your comfort zone, and you get two memory-boosting benefits. A study published by the National Institute of Health found that dancing helps boost a protein in the brain that facilitates communication between the neurons. Dancing also pumps oxygen to the brain, waking it up and preparing it to take in information. So, get up and practice those moves!
Use Your Other Hand
Doing everything with the right hand if you’re left-handed is certainly a challenge, but that’s a good thing. Research done at the University of Auckland in New Zealand shows that doing a common activity in a new way activates parts of the brain connected to memorizing information. Does this sound too hard? Start off with something easy. Simply brushing your teeth or signing your signature with the non-dominant hand can help you remember.
Eat This, Not That
What do Alzheimer’s medication and cauliflower have in common? Choline—a chemical that helps keep brain cells active. According to research published by the Journal of Neurology, you can reduce your chances of needing the medication by eating foods that boost Choline like liver, soybeans, and cauliflower. Omega-3 oils are crucial, too. Omega-3s can be found in oily fish (think salmon), nuts and seeds. On the other hand, Omega-6 oils, which are found in red meat, can cause inflammation in the brain, and reduce these benefits.
It turns out making a phone call while doing laundry isn’t a good idea. You won’t remember where you put the detergent or the details of the phone call. According to brain experts, the brain has a “lower retention rate” when multitasking. So slow down and train yourself to do one thing at a time.
Talk to Yourself
If you are good at remembering things that you hear, such as music, try saying new information out loud to retain it. For example, “I’m scheduling the delivery for 6 pm” and see if that helps you remember. Add a tune and it will become as easy as remembering your A-B-C’s.
Not to worry—this isn’t about hitting the gym. Associating a piece of information with a physical action can help with information retention, according to the National Health Institute. So, for example, if you want to want to remember somebody’s name, you could fist pump or jog in place for a moment while saying it.
Hit the Snooze Button
Waking up early doesn’t boost productivity if it reduces memory. Sure it gives you more time to do tasks, but what’s the point if you forget what half of those tasks are? A study published by the National Health Institute found that people who get less than seven hours of sleep a night struggle to transfer information from the short-term to long-term memory parts of their brains.
Bonus Tip: Use Technology
If you attend daily meetings or appointments, your best bet is to use your smartphone to make sure you never miss an important meeting again. Not only can you schedule appointments, you can now send yourself voice and text message reminders directly from your Google Calendar. It’s a simple trick that can seriously lower your stress levels.
How to Remember Something Important
To summarize, here are some tricks to help you remember something:
1. Repeat it to yourself with your eyes closed.
2. Make a rude rhyme about it.
3. Learn it in a new environment.
4. Repeat it while dancing.
5. Write it down using your non-dominant hand.
6. Don’t multitask while trying to learn it.
7. Repeat it to yourself, preferably out loud.
8. Link it to a hand gesture.
9. If necessary: send yourself reminders.
10. Sleep on it.