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10 Habits To Cultivate A Better Memory

by Diyana Rahim. |

Forgetting where you park your car is one thing, but forgetting about what you learned in Psychology just last week (was it something about Carl Jung?) is a whole other thing.

"Is there something wrong with my brain?", you wonder.

Perhaps. While you may associate "forgetfulness" or "dementia" to older people, don't be surprised if it happens to you earlier than you think. Harvard listed the common causes of forgetfulness, which includes lack of sleep, alcohol, stress, anxiety and depression.

Sound familiar?

In our fast-paced and demanding life, it's no wonder that we're always stressed out. Add social media into the equation where the comparison game thrives and you'll get a lack of self-esteem and possibly depression.

Luckily, you can make some tweaks in your lifestyle and improve your memory. Before you know it, you will breeze through your studies, get some A's and not have the fear of losing your car in Sunway Pyramid ever again.

So here are the 10 daily habits that you can practice:

1. Stretch

I like to do this as soon as I get out of bed and towards the end of the day. I'd do the butt lift, cat-cow poses, squats, hip circles and upper body stretch. Having done this for more than a month every day, I feel refreshed and ready to go each morning.

2. Meditate

Face it, it's not a hippie thing anymore. It's what you need to do to keep your stress under control. Don't think about it as 'not thinking'. Instead, focus on your breath going in and out for a few minutes. Put on some meditation music if you need to or follow a guided meditation on apps like Calm and Headspace. Do this at intervals throughout the day and especially when you feel like you're stuck at something.

3. Eat Healthily

A study found that eating junk food high in fats and sugar may have a negative long-term effect on spatial memory. Spatial memory is not just for navigation or finding your car in a crowded car park. It's also useful for those who are kinesthetic learners. So make sure you eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in all your meals!

4. Exercise

Exercise increases your heart rate, which enables more oxygen to reach your brain and releases hormones that encourage the growth of brain cells. This promotes brain plasticity as new connections are formed between those brain cells and this helps you cultivate a better memory.

5. Revise to refresh your memory

Now that new brain cells are formed and connected, it's your job to maintain that connection. Just like maintaining a friendship, you need to keep seeing or texting that friend. So if you know you have a big exam coming up, schedule regular revision days for you to absorb and retain the information.

6. Talk It Out

You know how they say that if you're able to explain a complex concept to a 5-year-old it means that you have completely understood the subject. There's truth in it. After revising a topic, you could test your comprehension by telling it to your peers or a superior. Either way, you must speak out your thoughts and not keep them all in your brain. Letting it out not only ensures your understanding and strengthens your memory but also may leave room for more new knowledge to come in.

7. Listen

I know, this is the exact opposite to what I've just said, but listening has its virtues as well. How do we receive the knowledge in the first place? We listen to our lecturers or mentors and we listen to the opinions of our peers. By listening attentively, we allow our brain to digest the information for future use.

8. Read

Now, I'm not going to say to read your subject material. You've done that already. Instead, you're going to pick a fictional book and just immerse yourself in a different world for at least half an hour. This allows your brain to rest from learning so much and just let it relax and enjoy. You could also spend the time watching Netflix or YouTube; but the good thing about reading is that you're not absorbing passively as your eyeballs are still doing some exercise and your brain is painting a picture. So it's still making your brain do some work, but not that of a high-intensity workout.

9. Journal

Another way to take your mind off of things. I find journaling to be useful for me personally. I do this every day. I jot down whatever comes to mind or I write about an event that happened which memory I want to preserve. Just like writing lecture notes for better memory retention, journaling helps me process and remember the times that I've shared with my loved ones.

10. Sleep

Our brain needs some downtime to repair and rejuvenate. Sleep is when the brain does that and when neural connections are strengthened. Sleep at a consistent time each day and for at least 7 hours. If you value your success, it's best to prioritise sleep.

Remember, you don't have to do all of these habits at once. That would be overwhelming. Just pick one habit to start with and do it every day for the next 30 days. And then when you’re ready, you can add on another habit. Soon enough, your memory will improve and it will reflect in the work that you produce.

Good luck!

You can also find out more about the writer on Instagram.

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