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Brain Tricks and Tips for Improving your Memory

Wooden box full of vintage photos

Our memory operates through our motivation and attention. Neurons fire and create patterns and networks based on how we use our brain. Our thoughts, intentions and actions directly shape the foundation of our mind. The building blocks can expand through neural plasticity and training our mind. We have our working memory that is about 17-30 seconds where we are paying attention, storing our memory in the short term, driven by the frontal cortex and our attention. Long-term memory is information stored like our autobiographical memories, and that’s information from minutes, days, hours and our lifetime.

To increase our memory and our brain function we need to work out our brain and develop strong brain patterns. We need to exercise our brain to improve our memory!

Brain Hacks to Enhance Your Memory

  • Meditation— A routine meditation practice calms the mind, reduces stress, improves memory, cognition, concentration and elevates mood. By meditating we are less stressed, so we are more able to focus and learn new things! A recent study found that meditating for 13 minutes a day has all these benefits. Meditation helps with anxiety, stress, worry and decreases the symptoms of depression. Also, people that meditate find they feel more connected and have greater in tune communication, which builds our collective memory. Meditation increases your overall wellbeing and longevity.

  • Dancing— The CDC found that learning to dance new moves improves memory and processing speed. Also dancing improves our planning and organizational skills where we are anticipating our dance moves and moving to the music. When we dance we are activating many brain areas where this boosts our mood and cognition! Have fun and dance into the wee hours of the night.

  • Listening to Music— Specifically, listen to music for the joy of it! Music engages the brain for listening, timing and creates connections across brain areas and makes new connections. When we are listening to music we enjoy, we release dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is activated for joy and reward in our brains! Listening to music enhances memory, improves mood, improves focus and reduces stress!

  • Exercising— Exercise is key for us to clear stuck energies, remove toxins and improve our memory, focus, motor coordination and stamina! Specifically, doing twenty minutes a day of cardio is beneficial for your body and as you are exercising you release endorphins which boost your mood and increase happiness.

  • Learning Something New— Learning new skills is a great way to engage the brain and improve memory. Studies show that learning new skills -- specifically quilting or photography, improves memory, focus and attention span!

  • Playing Board Games and Playing Cards— A research study in 2017 found that playing board games is a fun way to connect with others and expand the brain for pattern recognition which improves memory and enhances cognition. This is an exercise that improves your skill for your short term memory.

  • Playing Chess— A large-scale study found that playing chess improves memory, executive functioning (planning and thinking abilities) and enhances processing speed. Playing chess is a great way to improve your memory!

  • Sleep— Is essential for consolidating and improving memory. Research shows that adults on average need 7-9 hours of sleep a day. Sleep boosts memory recall, reduces mental fatigue, and regulates metabolism. Sleep may be an important part of your brain exercise!

Wanna try out a fun party trick to help you remember people's names?

Here goes -- train your brain and exercise the memory muscle for names!

  1. Listen to them as they say their name. For example, "Olivia."

  2. Repeat their name back to them.

  3. As they are talking to you, focus on what they are saying and repeat three times silently their name.

  4. Code their name with a second word using alliteration, a color, or a facial feature linked to their name. This is called sense memory— where you link a second sense to the experience and you can remember them with multiple ways to recall… Like "Cool Callie," or "Orange Olivia…"

  5. Finally, when you part ways, repeat their name back to them! “Bye Olivia.”

Can't get enough? Here's a segment I did on ABC Portland for improving your memory!

Bye for now and I hope you remember some of these tips and tricks to build new brain patterns and improve your memory!

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