Self-Improvement

How to Strengthen Your Memory Naturally


Strong memory has been a prized skill since ancient times. Those that possessed this skill could pass down cultural stories, legends, and historical knowledge of past events.

As time passed the creation of the printing press came to fruition and people had to adapt to being told the news and world events by newspaper and books. In more recent times the establishment of the internet and popular search engines allows us to ask anything and get an answer instantaneously.

The human ability to memorize is suffering. Nowadays we can barely remember more than a few numbers or even a few events from a story. Now more than ever, we need to learn again how to build and strengthen our memory, because if the choice is to use it or lose it, I fear a lot of us will lose it!

Why Memory Matters

Memory matters because it connects us to our past, present, and future. Recollecting certain situations and events develops the brain making it stronger, more focused, and capable of critical thinking. Remembering mistakes from the past, correcting in the present, and preparing us for the future. In this digital age, our minds tend to become lazy and distracted. Building memory allows us to discipline the mind which will be needed as we get older. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia are at an all-time high across North America and it never been more important to keep your mind strong and resilient.

Another reason memory matters, is that without it we blindly accept information without even thinking about whether it’s factual. The information we get online through search engines such as Google are not always factual. Strong minds are able to determine the difference between factual and false information better. Through deductive reasoning and critical thinking, the brain is able to sense when information sounds off or incorrect. If we can remember better, there is a better chance of recalling previous statements allowing solid judgment of incoming information.

Memory retention

Your occupation or career more than likely relies on your ability to remember procedures and policies. Your employer relies on you to remember how to do your job properly each day and most likely expects you to grow and learn even more the longer you work there. Strengthening the mind allows you to retain valuable information to push your career further benefiting you by job enrichment and financial growth.

Our brains are constantly working. Even when it seems like we are not using them, for instance, when we are sleeping, our brains are actually processing, developing, and learning an abundance of ideas and thoughts. It organizes the information received to recall it easier later. In general, we use short term memory to recall information we’ve learned very recently and long term memory to recall information that we’ve learned anytime in the recent past to childhood.

How Memory Works

In a basic sense, memory is the continued process of information retention over time. The brain, of course, is much more complex than that but to keeps things simple it can be explained by three main processes encoding, storage, and retrieval.

Encoding is how information is received. It is learned, altered, and prepared for storage. There are 4 encoding methods – Visual encoding (how something looks), acoustic encoding (how something sounds), semantic encoding (what something means), and tactile encoding (how something feels). Information is entered with one of these options but is then, depending on which option the information enters, it stores itself differently.

Storing memory

Storage is the term for where and how long the information encoded is in the memory. As with all information, it is first stored in the short term memory and then if needed, it is stored in the long term memory. This is where our “muscle memory” comes into play. If the information stored in your short-term memory is not accessed again, it gets forgotten. Our short term memory storage only lasts 15-30 seconds! It has also been said that our short term storage can only carry about 8 items at a time. Our long term storage, however, can store much larger amounts of information.

Retrieval is the process of accessing the stored the information. We acquire this information either from the short term memory or the long term memory. The information in the short term memory is retrieved in the order in which it is stored, but the long term memory is retrieved through association. For example, remembering someone’s name by seeing their face.

So what does this all mean? well, it means that we need strong minds to be able to consolidate and recall information quicker and easier. Recalling the memory is easier if it’s been strengthened over time, and each time we run through that same pattern of brain activity again, making it a little stronger.

Memory loss is a normal part of aging, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take action to slow it down a little. Let’s take a look at some of the ways research has found to keep our memories around as long as possible the natural way.

Strengthening Your Memory Naturally

Strong Memory

Meditation – There have been a number of studies conducted that recognize meditation has a solid means of strengthening the mind and body. This practice can strengthen your memory and concentration in just 8 weeks. Meditation stops the brain from processing at a rapid rate and forces the mind and body to collectively slow down, allowing both re-energize and refuel.

Eat berries – A study from the University of Reading and the Peninsula Medical School found that supplementing a normal diet with blueberries for twelve weeks improved performance on spatial working memory tasks. The effects started just three weeks in and continued for the length of the study.

Exercise-The benefits of exercise are obvious for most, but for the brain, in particular, regular exercise has been shown to improve cognitive abilities beyond memory. So if you’re looking for a way to stay sharp mentally, just 20 minutes a day can help.

Sleep – Most of our memory retention and the process of storing happens when we are asleep. The more sleep we have, the better chance of keeping our memory strong. In one particular study, participants had to memorize illustrated cards to test their memory strength. After memorizing a set of cards, they had a 40-minute break. One group napped, and the other stayed awake. After the break, both groups were tested on their memory of the cards, and guess what? The group who had napped performed better.

Vitamin D – Low vitamin D levels are linked with a decrease in cognitive ability. A study that followed 318 older adults for five years found that those who had blood levels of vitamin D less than 20 nanograms per ml lost their memory and other cognitive abilities faster than those with normal vitamin D levels

Cut back on the sugar intake – research suggests that diets high in refined sugars result in poor memory. A study conducted on 4,000 people found that those with a higher intake of sugary beverages like soda had lower total brain volumes and poorer memories on average compared to people who consumed less sugar.

Drink less alcohol – An interesting study done on 155 college freshmen found that students who consumed six or more drinks within a short period of time, either weekly or monthly, had difficulties in immediate and delayed memory-recall tests compared to students who never binge drank.

Train your brain – Board games, riddles, and problem-solving all play a big role in strengthening the brain’s abilities. Studies have proven again and again that regular brain training with games (even on your phone) can lead to better memory retention. So get out those crosswords, sudokus and word find books!

memory training

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