Do you often forget what you wanted to say? Do you forget why you went to the kitchen or what you needed to buy at the supermarket? Have you ever missed important dates or activities?
Your brain might be saturated with information and be rebelling. The good news is that you can improve your short-term memory with some habits and exercises. We’ll clue you in below.
Tips for improving your short-term memory
There are two types of memory: short- and long-term memory. The former is used to store immediate information. An example might be the name of someone that we you’ve met recently. Short-term memory capacity is limited.
Meanwhile, we use long-term memory for jobs that require more concentration or effort, like an exam or something that we do on a daily basis.
If you want to have a more efficient short-term memory, take note of these following tips:
1. Pay attention
First of all, you should focus on only one thing at a time. In the past years, the multitasking philosophy, which suggests that we can do a thousand things all at once, has become quite popular. However, it’s not true.
While we might be able can catch up on one chore while in the middle of another or even take advantage of one opportunity to finish another, we aren’t capable of giving our attention to two or more things at a time.
Why not? There always be that one activity that “steals” your focus and you might not do a good job finishing neither activity. Our brains work better when focusing on only what’s right before it.
2. Have fun with mental games
You can stimulate our short-term memory countless ways. Your brain can respond to the stimuli and exercises the same way your muscles do.
When you learn something new, your mind generates additional neuronal pathways, thus creating more connections (just like a metro system does, so to speak).
Since your mind can make new pathways, it’s fundamental to give it material so that it can build the rails that connect all your thoughts.
How can you do this?
By playing memory games, puzzles and other similar types of games.
3. Use all of your senses
You don’t just create memories using what you see with your eyes. Surely, you’re carrying around a memory of an aroma from your childhood, like grandma’s freshly baked bread or a song that your mom sang to you when you were scared. You can take advantage of all of your senses as an adult, too!
If you have issues remembering people’s names, repeat them several times out -loud. By doing so, your ear helps play a part in remembering them; if you want to remember a cooking recipe, consciously taste the flavors using your palate.
This technique involves associating words, images or sentences to help improve your short-term memory.
Rhymes can also be a huge help. For example, if you want to remember which months have 30 days, there’s a mnemonic rule for that: “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November…”
You could also make up your own rules using personal information that’s easy to remember, such as the first initials of family member’s names or people who are important to you. Use the combinations that are the simplest for you to repeat.
5. Segment and organize
When you have to remember a 10-digit telephone number, it’s easy to forget it if you try to remember it all in one go. However, when you separate it into two parts or into three chunks of three or four numbers, it’ll be easier to remember the telephone number for later. Repeat the sequence several times until it sticks in your mind.
Another technique that can really help you is segmenting. When you were in grade school, you probably had to make idea maps or underline the main ideas in a text. Do the same thing with all the information that you need to remember!
Concrete information and images help our minds a great deal.
6. Eat better
There is without doubt a relation between your daily diet and brain activity.
A diet that’s full of omega-3 fatty acids (found in foods such as salmon, walnuts and avocados) and vegetable proteins (fruits and vegetables) prevent premature aging and mental or cognitive illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
7. Sleep well
Have you noticed that it’s harder to remember something when the day is coming to a close? Or that you can’t remember something simple if you’ve only slept for 3 or 4 hours? This happens because your brain needs to rest in order to recharge just as any other muscle requires.
You should follow a healthy sleeping routine: anywhere between 7 and 9 hours. Go to bed and get up at the same hours each day and when you can, and take a small midday nap in the afternoons. Don’t watch TV in bed and avoid eating too much for dinner as it can make you drowsy.
Keeping an exercise routine can be helpful if you want to work on your short-term memory.
By exercising, your body pumps oxygen and this “pure air” can also reach your mind. When that happens, you’re even more capable of remembering all the information that you might receive in a day. You can do cardio (biking, treadmill, running, etc.) to strengthen your cerebral functions.