40 memory hacks for the young and old

Brain health at all ages is a significant part of daily happiness and quality of life. The sharper your memory, the happier you are. Adopt these habits at any age to give your brain the boost it deserves.

Hobbies

Stay sharp by finding a subject or hobby that interests you and study it deeply. You will find that the deeper you delve, the more your mental aptitude.

Read widely

Reading widely boosts your brain and expands your vocabulary

 Explore

Try something new whenever you can. Take a different route home, or eat at a different restaurant. This teaches your brain to adapt and trains it.

Take classes

A dance class, a yoga class, a pottery class, or entrepreneurial classes. It doesn’t matter, just keep learning new things.

Try clubs

A book club, a reading club even a gardening club offers you the opportunity to socialise and get constant mental stimulation.

Sleep

Sleeping helps consolidate our memory and knowledge. Don’t rack up a sleep debt. Sleep for adequate hours, and get a good quality of sleep.

Make notes

Write things down. Not a reminder, just a regular note. Writing creates a visual memory for you such that you won’t even need the piece of paper to remember your list.

Rinse and repeat

Repetition helps things stick to memory. Repeat things aloud over and over again or write it down repeatedly till it’s stuck in your memory

Sing

Songs are easy to remember and children will benefit most from the use of song to remind them of what they need to know.

Play a game with it

If there’s something in particular that you need to do, make it a game. Challenging yourself to finish a task by a certain time, or in a certain manner will give you the motivation you need to stay on track.

Make rhymes

Just like with songs, rhymes can help things stay in your memory.

Make it distinctive

Identify a feature that makes whatever you are trying to remember different from the others and put it in a simple sentence. “Two legs good, four legs bad” from the bookpost Animal Farm is a good example.

Make connections

Connect new information to things you already know, the things you already know will help “anchor” new information in your memory.

Learn a new language

You’ve probably heard of this many times before but a new language has many benefits, it provides mental stimulation and a good challenge for the brain.

Work with the mind

Some studies have shown that the early afternoon is the time when your mind is most active. Choose this period to do the most stimulating tasks to take advantage.

Visualize a tree

Use a tree as a visual to connect a concept that you need to remember. The trunk and big branches should be for major aspects of the concept, other less important facts can be represented by the smaller branches and leaf.

Use a last known point

Just like when you get to a point in a game and save, when you get to a point save it to memory by repetition or visualisation or attaching it to an object in front of you. Glancing at the object will help you remember the point.

Use mnemonics

We’ve all used this one in school and we know that mnemonics are a powerful way to save things to memory.

Use connected reminders

Use a post-it note to put a reminder on an object connected to a task that you need to remember to carry out. For example, if you want to remember to take your homework to school, leaving a reminder on your door handle will ensure you don’t leave the room without it.

Use a human reminder

You can ask someone else to remind you to do stuff. The only downside is that the success of this strategy is dependent on you’re the person’s memory powers.

Body movement

You can use your body movement to jog your memory. For example, running your hands through your hair can help remind you that your hair needs to be brushed.

Get a Newspaper

Keeping abreast of the news is a great way to stimulate the brain. Knowledge of both local and international events can help you maintain reference points to things going on in your personal life.

Connect to olfactory

Odours are known to be powerful mental stimulants, that’s why we connect a certain scent with home, and another with people. You can get your memory to connect a certain activity or routine to a scent so that the aroma can remind you to do something that you need to do.

Mirror notes

If you have a mirror in your bathroom, chances are you take a peek before you leave the bathroom. Leaving a note on the bathroom mirror can be a good way to get reminded of things that need to be done.

Send yourself text messages

Everybody loves to receive messages. Schedule a message to remind yourself of a task or errand that you’re likely to forget.

Positive reinforcement

Give yourself a reward every time you remember or find something that you lost. That way your brain will crave the reward and try harder when you need it to.

Stay calm

If you think you’ve forgotten important facts or an important errand, try not to go into panic mode. The more relaxed you are about it, the more likely it is to come back to you.

Play games

Games stimulate the brain, improve problem-solving abilities, hand-eye coordination and even helps the memory. Play games as much as you can. Extra points for repeating levels over and over till you can play it blind-folded. Classic games like Tetris, chess or backgammon are great in the sense that they provide continuous but fresh mental challenges and sharpen the brain by being familiar and yet new at the same time.

Fix puzzles

Puzzles like crossword puzzles, word searches, or Sudoku provide fun mental exercises in numeracy and literacy. Picture puzzles also help mental clarity.

Use Humour

Laughter is a powerful memory trigger. It also has the additional benefits of improving the mood, exercising the brain, can be used to mask pain, and even strengthens social bonds with others. You can incorporate laughter into your remembering techniques by dreaming up hilarious consequences for failing to do a particular exercise.

Use brain training programs

Brain training has been proven to have beneficial effects on the brain. It staves off cognitive decline, increases IQ and can improve depression. Brain training tasks are fun and can boost your memory, as well as improve spatial reasoning and creative thinking.

Focus

Sometimes we can’t remember simply because we didn’t pay enough attention. Being alert and taking specific steps to commit things to memory not only provides the brain with stimulation but solidifies the memories created.

Exercise

Exercise is important for almost everything. It boosts the immune system, helps with depression and improves circulation. Exercise more for a healthier mind and body.

Meditate

Meditation has been proven to have beneficial effects on the brain. It reduces stress, improves attention and focus and also improves memory. Getting in the habit of meditating can make a significant difference in your memory powers.

Switch your Senses

Stimulate new areas of your brain by pushing your senses. Try listening to the television without looking at it, or try closing your eyes to identify tastes and smells. This has the effect of making your brain work that much harder to improve those senses that rely on sight to work.

Make a summary

If you have a wall of information that you need to grasp, create a summary of all that information by yourself. Digesting the information enough to create a summary often helps you get a firm grasp of what you need to keep the information locked in your memory.

Check your diet

Some food classes are great for brain health, and others not so much. Switch up your diet with a focus on optimizing it for brain health. Cut back on refined sugars as they have been shown to cause short attention span, while fatty foods like avocados, nuts, fish, and eggs are known to help with brain health. A meal that is rich in fruits and veggies are also great for brain health.

Stay hydrated

Water is an important component of your cells. It is important that you drink enough water to be fully hydrated always. Maximum hydration ensures that your brain has the ability to work at full capacity always.

Listen to new music

Classical music helps with focus and attention span while new music stimulates your brain by making it try to understand new structures. This keeps your cognitive function intact. Most times as we get older, we crave music from the past, however, we will benefit more from listening to new music.

Take Care of Yourself

You cannot have a healthy brain without having a healthy body. So taking good care of your body and your health will result in your brain being taken care of as well.

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