The older we get the harder it is to keep track of memories. Ask me what I ate yesterday or even what I did and I’d be hard-pressed to remember. The busier I get, the more I seem to forget.
It’s common for people to feel as if we are slowly losing control of our memory, and it’s easy to see forgetfulness as a weakness or loss. Sometimes we even try to cover up forgetfulness.
What if we looked at the situation differently? Could forgetfulness be a natural side effect of the incredible volume, variety and richness of all we have learned and experienced in life?
Think about the thousands of things we expose ourselves to every day at work, at home, on television and on the Internet. That abundance of information and experience means that total recall is simply impossible. It makes sense that the older we get, the more we forget because of the sheer volume of experiences we accumulate.
The good news is you can train your mind for better recall of the things that are most important to your daily life. Here are three scientifically proven ways to improve memory.
>> Stop doing so many things at once: Whenever we multitask, we are not only less productive and more prone to errors, we forget more. Research shows you need about eight seconds to commit a piece of information to memory. If you’re checking your phone for messages, while singing along to your favorite song, while you are walking in to your house, you’re likely not going to remember where you put your keys. We cannot remember so many things simultaneously.
>> Practice mindfulness: The opposite of multitasking is mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you to work toward undistracted focus. Start by noticing when you are trying to do a handful of things at one time. This causes your mind to go in many directions at the same time. When you become aware you are doing this, stop and consciously focus on the task at hand — one task at a time. Practicing this often brings greater focus and with it better memory.
>> Sleep well: According to Harvard University research, sleep enhances memory and a good night’s sleep improves performance. Sleep helps to glue information into the brain for greater recall, especially things learned or experienced that day. Also, a midday nap dramatically boosts and restores brain power.
Another thing that can hamper the brain’s ability to store and recall information is hydration. Your brain is nearly 75 percent water and if you’re 2 percent dehydrated, then your memory, attention span and other cognitive skills can suffer greatly. Hydration is a huge part of allowing your brain to function at optimal levels.
Most of all, do not anguish about what you can’t recall. Memories are stored not only in the brain but also in the heart in the form of feelings.
Furthermore, keep your focus on the present, because it’s this moment that matters most. And enjoyment of the present doesn’t rely on recall of memories to be meaningful.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com.