Your brain is great at remembering life’s biggies-your first kiss or a bucket- list vacation-but where you left the keys? Um… no clue. to the rescue: Simple mind tricks that ease those gray-matter hiccups.
1.SAY IT AGAIN, SAM.
Repetition strengthens neural pathways in the brain’s hippo-campus, the area responsible for long-term memory. So to firm up a new acquaintance’s name, mention it a few times during conversation (“That’s a pretty sweater, Sarah!”; “Sarah, I so agree with you!”).
2. PUT YOUR FUNNY BONE TO WORK.
Memories connected to emotion-humor or sadness-tend to stick best. Need to remember that you parked your can on Walnut Street? Picture it covered in walnuts. Or get silly to memorize, say, the combo for your gym lock (352: my 3 sisters = 5 fancy bottles of wine = 2 tipsy).
3. GET YOUR SENSES INVOLVED.
You know how sometimes a sound or smell is all it takes to bring on flash-backs? The parts of the brain that help us process input from our senses may also play a role in storing memories. So when you want to memorize the details of a special event or a new place, get a good whiff of the aromas, pay attention to the way the light hits, and notice sounds of the people around you.
4. Check your medicine cabinet.
Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs mess with short-term memory or can make it harder to think clearly. Meds to watch out for include anti-depressants, muscle relaxants, sleep aids, antihistamines, heavy-duty painkillers, and statins. If you’re taking one of these and fell foggy, talk to your doctor about switching to another option or reducing your dose.
5. ADD YOGA TO YOUR ROUTINE.
Regular exercise has been shown to protect memory, but hitting the yoga mat may help, too. In one study, adults who did it three times a week improved their working memory capacity and information processing speed. Researchers think the attention to mind and body may carry over to every day activities, improving focus.
6. Look for the story.
According to a phenomenon called the Baker-baker paradox, you’re more likely to remember someone’s dace if you’re told, say, that the person is a baker than if you learn that his last name is Baker. That’s likely because the former prompts us to think about the story behind the job, while the latter tells us nothing. People have a hard time recalling isolated facts, but they remember stories. If you can turn a memory into a narrative, you provide your brain with framework to store it. One idea: String the items on your grocery-shopping or to -do list into a silly little story. That way, you may find it easier to remember every-thing without checking your phone again and again.
7. JOT STUFF DOWN.
When you write something by hand, it ties together the verbal and spatial areas of the brain in a way that banging out notes on your phone doesn’t; this could help your retain info better/ Plus, since you can scribble only so much at a time, you’re forced to slow down, focus, and order information, further shoring up your memory bank.
8. STASH YOUR PHONE.
Attention is the gateway to memory. Oftentimes if you forget something, it’s because you never really got it in the first place-your focus was elsewhere. Like, on taking selfies: Researchers found that people who took pics during a museum tour remembered less of what they saw than those who didn’t snap away. So remember, fewer distractions = better memory – and drop your gadgets.
9. GRAB ENOUGH Z’S.
What happens when you hit the sack? Your brain goes into housekeeping mode, sweeping away toxins and debris and stitching memories together. That may be why skimping on sleep seriously throws us off: When researchers tested the memories of some 15,000 women, those who snoozed for five hours or less a night preformed as if they were a few years older.