Your significant other drops the perfect hint about what she’d like for her birthday next month and you make a mental note of it. Two weeks later, despite your best intentions, you can’t remember what it was: Did she say she wanted a new briefcase … or was it a purse … or maybe a wallet? Yesterday you misplaced your keys — and today you could only remember two of the three things you needed at the grocery store.
You are not alone. Life pulls us in many directions, and there never seems to be enough hours in a day. Distractions, stress and overload can collectively interfere with memory, defined as the process of encoding, storing and retrieving information.
One of the most overlooked strategies to reduce the overall stress in your life is to work with an executive coach. As you gain greater clarity and focus, you may find your memory improve in tandem. The following ideas can also help enhance your memory.
How to Boost Your Memory: 6 Coaching Strategies
- Feed your memory — Literally. Certain foods have been proven to have memory-boosting properties. According to nutritionist Joy Bauer, eating a heart-healthy diet — including fish rich in omega-3 fats, fruits and leafy green vegetables — can contribute to a healthy memory as well. Some studies suggest that blueberries may even be able to reverse memory loss.
- Meditate — We often recommend mindfulness training to our clients seeking life coach advice because of its myriad of benefits, ranging from stress reduction to improvements in memory. Better yet, the advantages of meditation can be experienced within a fairly short period of time. A study conducted by the University of California – Santa Barbara found that participants who took a two-week mindfulness course and practiced meditation for just 10 minutes per day were not only able to improve their working memory, but also saw an increase in their ability to focus.
- Strengthen your memory muscle — Tending to mind and memory is akin to physical fitness; keeping in good shape requires some form of exercise. Whether you prefer crossword puzzles or trivia challenges, finding some sort of brain training game that you enjoy will encourage you to stick with it, reaping the benefits of mental exercise.
- Sleep — One of the greatest gifts you can give your memory is a good night’s sleep. Neuroscientific research reveals that while the brain needs to be in a wakened state to encode memories, it needs to be in a slow-wave sleep state to consolidate, strengthen and integrate memories into existing knowledge networks.
- Use mnemonics — By creating a word association in your mind, you vastly increase your chances of recall. It might be difficult to remember the names of the planets that orbit the sun — in order — but if you use a mnemonic like “My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets,” it will help you recall them (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and so on) quite easily.
- Invoke your senses — The more senses involved in receiving the information, the greater the chances of remembering the information. Remember “Schoolhouse Rock”? Learning about the function of a conjunction is far more effective for many students through a catchy tune than in a boring workbook. In fact, music has been proven to facilitate memory when learning a new foreign language.
By adding a visual component to a verbal conversation, you increase your chances of remembering as well. Consider the example in the opening paragraph. The next time your significant other drops a birthday hint, imagine her holding the new briefcase. In your mind’s eye, make it purple — even (especially!) if that’s her least favorite color. Two weeks later, you will have a visual reminder instead of a blank mental post-it note.