The worst: When you forget where you put your keys!
No matter how hard you try to will your brain to remember, you can’t. Maybe you walk aimlessly through your house, hunting for some kind of clue. Well, there’s good news here: Memory recall can be prompted by cues!
This is why all of a sudden, when staring at your purse, you might remember sliding them into that side pocket you never use. Voila, keys!
Inevitably, this has happened to all of us at some time or another. We struggle to remember someone’s name or whether we turn left or right at that one intersection.
And this is a memory recall problem! It doesn’t mean the memories don’t exist. More so, the mental process to retrieve them is failing you.
Unfortunately, these memory “slips” tend to happen more frequently as we age. The inevitable wear and tear begin to occur as time goes on.
However, this doesn’t have to be your fate. In fact, you can improve your memory recall. In this article, we’re going to examine exactly how you can do that.
The University of California, Berkeley, states,
“The challenge with storage is that once something has made it into long-term memory, it tends to remain stored, but not necessarily always accessible.”
In other words, you have the capacity to create new memories galore. But it’s the ability to access these memories that tends to fade as time goes on.
Luckily, this can be improved! More specifically, experts claim that by practicing the act of retrieval (aka remembering your stored memories and bringing them into the conscious mind), you will be able to readily access this information later on. As always, practice makes perfect.
Related Article: Memory Problems? 9 Tips To Help You Remember Better
There are specific types of food that can contribute to good brain health (and optimal memory recall!).
For instance, many brain foods contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which contribute to neural and brain cell repair and function. We’ll dive into more specific foods below in the next section.
So, how can you get better at remembering things? Here are a few tips to improve your memory recall and age gracefully.
You literally become what you eat.
And I don’t mean you’re about to transform into that delicious chocolate bar or steak. Rather, your body can only do so much with the tools you give it. In other words, if you’re giving your body not-so-great tools (oh hey, high calorie, low-nutrient junk food!), then you’re not going to get as much out of it as you could.
Ensuring you eat a whole foods diet is important for not just your brain health, but your overall health. When specifically talking about memory recall and brain health, some great foods to include are salmon, tuna, sardines, berries, dark leafy greens, and walnuts.
Rehearsal can do wonders for recalling information, such as info or facts you want to remember for that next big exam. A really good way to do this is to study the basic concept of something, then study the elaborated explanation and repeat.
Surprisingly, attention is a key part of having great memory recall.
You need proper attention to be able to retrieve your memories from long-term memory and bring them into conscious thought. When studying or trying to remember something, thus, reducing distractions is of the utmost importance!
Stress and memories have a very negative relationship.
Stress not only impacts what type of memories we create but also makes it difficult to accurately recall that information later.
Plus, when you remember something, you actually slightly alter that memory. If you’re under stress, you might paint that memory a little differently, influencing the accuracy later on.
On top of this, stress takes away from our attention, leading to difficulty with even trying to remember something specific. In fact, trying to remember and not remembering might just pile on more stress. Thus, first, it’s better to find a way to calm your nerves, then dive back in.
Mnemonic devices simply mean attaching a memory or fact you need to remember to a particular object or scene.
In fact, there are various ways to do this. You can use songs and rhymes or acronyms. You might also opt for visualizing yourself going through a room that’s familiar to you and attaching meaning to certain objects to remember a particular concept. Find a way that works for you!
Actively visualizing a concept or memory can solidify it, making it easier to pull up later on.
This is partially why flashcards work so well (they provide visual cues!) or using pictures or illustrations can help you learn and remember a concept.
Research shows that memory recall can be enhanced by reading out loud. In fact, many experts and teachers have noticed that when you try to explain or teach a concept (or memory) to someone else, you’re benefiting yourself too. You’ll be much more equipped to remember and understand it later.
While cramming all night for that exam might seem like a great idea (and sure, when we’re in our teens and 20s, we can totally get away with a night of missed sleep now and then), it actually could be doing more harm than good.
A lack of sleep is linked to various cognitive deficits, including memory and attention functions.
The fix? Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night, especially if you have a big exam or event where you’ll need your memory and brain power to perform in tip-top shape.
Yes, exercise can help improve your cognitive health, just as much as it improves your physical health!
Aim to get at least 150 minutes a week or about 20 minutes a day. And this doesn’t need to be anything super strenuous. Try going for a few short walks, and before you know it, you’ll be meeting your quota.
Related Article: 10 Positive Reasons You Should Move Your Body More
There are so many of these that I’m not going to bother listing them all off. But to name a few, there are:
Try incorporating the tips above to get a leg-up on your memory recall. It’s never too early or too late to get practicing and start working that good ol’ ‘noggin!
Plus, your future self might just thank you when you can easily recall where you put your keys or what your best friend’s phone number is (Seriously, if your phone dies, would you be able to call anyone from a store phone or phone booth?). So, make those changes and watch your life (and cognitive function) vastly improve.