We forget…a lot. We forget names, people, documents, appointments, tasks. We may forget to complete the job today or to pick up our granny from the airport tomorrow. We forget because we are just humans. It may be annoying (I know the answer but what, what is it??), often embarrassing (how stupid I am!!) and sometimes worrying (is something really wrong with me?). But you should know that forgetting is natural.
Our brain is not supposed to remember every single thing we learn in life and sometimes it is great (like when you recover from a broken heart). However, not remembering the things we do want to keep in mind makes us crazy. If your memory level does harm to your job performance or personal life, it becomes a problem and needs to be taken care of. So how can we do better when remembering things?
Stages of Remembering
Did you know that when you are trying to remember something, your brain is going through three stages:
- acquisition (learned info is kept in a short-term memory and then may be either forgotten or goes to the long-term memory);
- consolidation (learned info goes directly to the long-term memory, it happens if this info is meaningful to you, left strong impression or is related to some historical events);
- recall (learned info is retrieved by activating a neuronal pattern and here comes this very moment when you have something on the tip of your tongue).
If something goes wrong on one of them, it will be hard for you to remember a thing you are struggling to remember.
How to Remember Things Right Away
There are a few methods that can help you remember a thing you have just forget. Let’s have a look at most effective of them that are often applied:
- No stress, more rest. This is an obvious tip but stress has a huge impact on our memory. When the level of stress rises, it becomes harder to concentrate on the task and keep on track. It happens because our ability to keep access to the prefrontal cortex lowers and the ability to pay attention also reduces. Trying to relax, think about something not related to the topic to make your brain work again;
- Sleep is important. Sleep deprivation may lead to forgetting and if you want to be able to recall certain things, you need to sleep more to activate your long-term memory. Little sleep makes us not only tired but grumpy and forgetful. So how much sleep do you need? It depends on each of us: someone needs 7-8 hours and for someone 5 hours is enough. Make sure you get enough;
- Connect memories to places. Our memory is very tied to the specific places where the events happened or someone said something. You can make these connections on purpose to help you remember the info and recall it later;
- Less thinking. If you overstimulate your brain with lots of information, it can result in exhaustion and overloading. When you are not thinking too hard, it reveals useful associations, new ideas and memories you want to recall. Take regular breaks of 15 minutes: it will refresh your focus and let you concentrate on other things that do matter. Have you tried meditation practices? This is also a good way to relax;
- Do exercises. Get off your chair and do regular exercises which boost your memory and help your brain work faster and more efficient. Increasing your physical activity stimulates the release of BDNF, decreases insulin resistance and also boosts the area size connected to learning and memory;
Practice…a lot. Focus on the information you want to remember, read it a few times, then close the book or laptop and repeat it aloud. Practice brings you more results than Google!