How many new names can you remember on your first day of school? Or how long can you concentrate on the lesson? Having a good memory doesn’t necessarily mean you have a good concentration span or vice versa. Some of us have incredible photographic memory, whereas some of us are not so fortunate. For a few of us, you could even suffer from both poor memory and poor concentration. Which one best describes you?
1) Good memory good concentration
2) Poor memory good concentration
3) Good memory poor concentration
4) Poor memory poor concentration
The good news is memory and concentration can be strengthened! Whether you are a 6-year-old attending your first class or a working adult struggling with memory blocks, simply try these 8 easy activities and be surprised by the results!
1) Enjoy quality sleep
Three simple rules: sufficient sleep, a comfortable bed and no snoozing on your alarm clock. Besides having sufficient sleep, ensure you have a reasonably comfortable mattress. Sleeping on an old mattress would result in an improper sleep cycle and therefore leaving you less energised the next day. Based on a video from ASAP Science, setting too many alarms or snoozing them disrupts your sleep cycle! Refrain from setting too many alarms. Wake up immediately when the alarm clock sets off!
2) Remove all distractions
Choose a right place to study, read or learn. Remove any potential distractions including any electronic devices, sources of music or noise and even actions such as spinning of pens. Ensure your mind focuses on the object. Whenever there is a distraction, continue focusing on your task at hand. After a while, you will unknowingly ignore the distractions around you.
3) Do something new
Exercise your brain by doing something you have not done before. Working on an activity which you are already good at won’t help to improve your brain much. Do something out of your comfort zone that requires mental effort. For example, if you are new to drawing and it excites you to learn a new skill, start learning it! If you already know how to draw, then avoid drawing something you are familiar with. Try drawing something more challenging.
The more we learn (with a certain degree of difficulty), the more we try to “expand” our brain’s learning capacity as well as increase the data absorbing rate as we are constantly exposed to new activities.
4) Use Mnemonics
Mnemonics can be a song, rhyme, acronym, image or a phrase to help you study and memorise large quantities of information more efficiently. This type of memorising method captures information in an interesting way. For instance, by remembering “ROY G. BIV”, you can remember the order and colours of the rainbow easily: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.
For music amateurs, you will find it a breeze to remember the line notes of the treble clef (E, G, B, D, F) by memorising this phrase “Every Good Boy Deserves Friendship”.
5) Repeat yourself
Reading out text/graphics is an easy activity to memorise information. It helps to further “imprint” facts into your brain by forming auditory links in our memory pathways. Our brains recognise the information we say aloud, forming both visual and auditory links.
When you are studying for your examination, you may try to identify the key information and repeat the important facts aloud. Even a whisper will help to make information more memorable.
6) Spend quality time with a friend
Catch up with your friends and spend quality time with them! It is medically proven that people with the most active social lives have the slowest rate of memory decline. It can be as little as 10 minutes’ of tele-conversation with a friend that can actually result in measurable memory improvement.
It is even better if the conversation includes laughter, since laughter promotes memory by reducing the stress hormone, cortisol.
7) Regular physical exercise
Regular physical exercise helps your brain stay alert and sharp. Doing morning exercises before starting your day gives you a fresher and clearer mind. It increases oxygen intake to your brain and reduces the risk of disorders that lead to memory loss. In fact, regular exercise boosts the effects of helpful brain chemicals and greatly decreases stress hormones.
Cardiovascular exercise is particularly good for the brain, so choose activities that keep your heart pumping.
8) Eat the right food
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Avoid MSG, white sugar and refined carbs. Your brain needs a steady supply of blood glucose and ketones. Rosemary and turmeric are particularly good for the brain. Your brain is largely made up of fats, so eat plenty of healthy high-fat foods like nuts and avocados. Eating a ketogenic diet would also help fuel the brain with ketones and prevent cognitive degeneration. Get your ketones from food high with MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides) such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil and dairy products.
If you have trouble concentrating, you may have a dopamine deficiency. Low energy, motivation and libido are all signs of low dopamine. Consume chocolate, avocados, apples, bananas or even coffee to provide sufficient dopamine to your body. This helps your mind to stay clear and focused.
In essence, taking care of your health and mental well-being do wonders for your cognitive functions. So sleep well, exercise, focus more, interact with others, and use memory techniques to boost your memory and attention span!