Are you hearing yourself say, “It’s on the tip of my tongue…” just a little too often? Slower memory recall is a common issue for many people. Whether caused by a cognitive illness, traumatic brain injury, or just “getting older,” you may have options for quickening your verbal and memory recall.
Memories are created when the brain transmits signals between neurons. These signals are known as synapses. Synapses are strengthened by repetition.
If you want to improve your memory retention and recall, you do have options. Explore a few of these easy and natural ways to quicken your memory recall…
#1 Get More Sleep
Boring? Hardly! Sleep is actually critical for consolidating memories. When your brain enters into a sleep state it’s actually quite active, categorizing information and storing it away for future recall. Remarkably, even a short nap can help lock in memories.
And, no, you can’t skimp on sleep and try to make up for it with supplements or other habits! Sleep deprivation can impair “attention and working memory, but it also affects other functions, such as long-term memory and decision-making,” according to one study.
#2 Use Mnemonic Devices
As grade school students, we frequently learned using mnemonic devices. Anyone remember PEMDAS (“Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally”)? This mnemonic device was a popular way for students to learn the order of operations in mathematics.
Mnemonic devices worked then, and they still work now. Try using acronyms, rhymes, songs, or any other mnemonic devices to remember short lists or other information.
#3 Connect Knowledge
If you’re struggling to recall a piece of information, try connecting it to something you already know and understand. You may find that recalling the new idea or concept is easier when it has an association with something already familiar. Let’s say you want to remember your coworker’s son’s name (John). You have a nephew named John, whose name you wouldn’t forget! So, you train your brain to forge the connection between the coworker’s son and your nephew.
#4 Know Your Learning Style
Are you a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Know which type of learning you do best, and then shift your learning into those categories, as you’re able. There are so many free technologies available that can allow you to learn in the way best suited to you. (Visual? YouTube. Auditory? Audiobooks and podcasts. Kinesthetic? Try local workshops for a range of hands-on technical and professional classes.) Learning according to your style can make it easier for you to recall information from memory later on.
#5 Practice Meditation
“Students who did about an hour of ‘mindfulness training’ for eight days subsequently did better on the GRE as well as tests of working memory and mind-wandering,” reported The Atlantic in 2013.
Meditating can be helpful for clearing the clutter of the brain’s short term memory. When we meditate, our brains take a break from the intense processing that’s continuously occurring at work or school.
#6 Play Brain Games
Online brain training can help improve memory retention and recall, according to many studies. In fact, brain training may even reduce the risk of dementia! Anything from Tetris to crossword puzzles may help. However, researchers have developed sophisticated brain games that can help with specific types of brain and memory-related issues.