Having a bad memory is one of the many laments of students and for some, can even become mental blocks during examinations or important school periods. Memory is very important to us yet is often overlooked as we assume it is unchangeable – that we are either born with a good memory or a bad one. However, scientific studies have shown that to a certain extent, memory can be trained and improved with changes in activities, food intake and lifestyle. This is because these changes target the biological process behind making a memory which is: encoding (registering the memory), consolidation, and retrieval. In essence, the best way to improve one’s memory is to constantly repeat this process, and strengthen neural pathways and brain activity. In this article, I break down the five tips that can help you achieve this process and improve your memory!
Meditation is a practice whereby an individual uses techniques, such as mindfulness, to focus on specific objects, thoughts or events, to “train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state”. Though we may be quick to associate meditation as an activity only in religion, yoga or even relaxation techniques for working adults, it actually goes beyond such generalisations. A recent popular form of meditation is mindfulness, which is particularly favoured by young adults and teenagers for its simple and easy process. Mindfulness is basically the process of being fully present, aware of what is happening around us and what is not. To practice mindfulness, one only needs to take the time to pay attention to their surroundings and present moment, being aware of your body, emotions and thoughts. This can be done through seated or walking meditation practices, or even just short pauses in our everyday life, taking a moment to breathe and relax and even journal down some thoughts and emotions.
So how do such practices improve our memory? Mindfulness and other meditation practices strengthen our working memory, which is the amount of information our brain can hold every day, at any moment. They help us use our working memory to maximum capacity by training focus and attentiveness on everyday things around us. In fact, research studies have proved that mindfulness can improve information recall and memory in just eight weeks! Indeed, mindfulness can be a powerful tool in training one’s memory ability.
Our physical health is directly correlated to our mental functioning as well. Hence, it is crucial to maintain and improve our bodies first before we can improve our cognitive abilities such as memory. We may brush off the general medical advice we always hear such as exercising regularly and maintaining seven hours of sleep daily. However, these are important in regulating our body’s functioning and ability to repair during deep sleep.
Sleep in particular, is important in the memory consolidation process, while exercise improves cognitive performance. Studies done have shown that exercise secretes neuroprotective proteins, which aid in the building of neurons, improving brain functioning which includes long term memory capacity. On top of such basic maintenance of the body, is also what we put into our bodies – our diet! Once again, extensive research has been done to identify types of food that improve brain health. Some may brush these aside as pseudo tips, however generally, such food is still good for one’s overall health and have other benefits too! Such food and drinks that are useful in improving memory and focus are:
Training your brain basically entails mental exercises to improve its functionality, including memory capacity! Brain exercises and activities that spur creativity can aid in honing your mental sharpness, which can once again improve memory through the constant stimulation of the brain. How then can we train our brain? Actually, the methods to do so are quite fun, and would definitely fall into some of your current interests or hobbies! For instance, a popular form of brain exercises is actually riddles! Many of us may have heard some of them in our school orientation camps, but they can also be easily found online. In fact, my friends and I sometimes search for some riddles to discuss when we have some free time after our lunch catch up sessions. This way, training your brain becomes a fun group activity rather than a mundane chore to check off. Below is a more exhaustive list of several games and activities you can incorporate in your free time to sharpen your senses and memory ability.
How then can we incorporate these strategies into our lives? Understandable, it can be difficult to inculcate new habits in a short span of time. As such, don’t be afraid to seek some extra help and support from others, such as your friends, family members and even private home tutors. A memorable home tuition experience in Singapore I once had was a very kind private tutor who used to play very relaxing and meditative music for each 1-to-1 home tuition session (after checking if it was all right first of course). This really helped to ease us into the session and the use of music also helped in recollection of what I had learnt. If music is not your preference, the ‘training your brain’ strategy can also be incorporated into private tuition. For instance, tuition teachers could utilise games, flashcards and quizzes, which are mentally stimulating and can aid in memory recollection. This type of lesson can also be easily specified in tuition requests from home tuition agencies and private tuition agency in Singapore, such as FamilyTutor that always strives to match such tuition expectations with their highly dependable tutor database.
All in all, the bottom line is that improving brain health and performance, especially our memory is greatly beneficial in all facets of life. Starting young to incorporate the above tips into our daily routines is a sustainable way to improve our memory. In the long run, the efforts we make every day will indeed multiply and we can reap the maximum benefits from such small habits that we can start now!
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