How To Help Your Memory
Do you rely on a list instead of your memory to remind you of what the day ahead has in store? Do you always use your dominant hand when unscrewing the milk lid? You’ve got to change those habits ASAP.
These 2 lifelong habits could be ruining your memory’s potential and the sooner you stop doing them, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits in the future and increase your memory and brain’s potential.
Even though the mission here is to stop you doing these habits, you’ll also be learning a couple of new memory and brain training hacks along the way. Plus, with these new tips, you’ll be able to exercise your neuroplasticity, flex your brain and ultimately develop your memory’s potential in ways in which you’ve never done before.
Stop Writing Lists
Use Your Memory And Train Your Brain To Remember
Now this may seem like an odd and uncomfortable idea. Why would you ever stop writing lists, surely you’ll forget everything you need to do, know, say, think..?
There’s that word ‘forget.’
By writing lists every day for tasks to complete at work, shopping or things to accomplish in your personal life, you’re in fact quashing your brain’s ability to actually remember daily tasks without the support of a piece of paper or an iPhone note. And as a result you’ll be more than likely to forget.
Professor Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication and Future Media at the University of Salford, describes how making daily to-do lists can have detrimental effects on your wellbeing by evoking a “feeling of non-accomplishment” when the to-do list is incomplete, making you feel low and affecting your self-esteem without even realising it!
Miah continues to describe how, “The amount of content we record and share today is creating a real-time record of our lives; there is stuff we no longer need to remember, because we can save it somewhere. So instead, we have to figure out how to locate and retrieve it…”
By using and relying on lists and other ways of storing our thoughts and potential memories, we’re losing the ability to remember how to remember to remember… Oh the irony.
So do we write lists because we fear we’ll forget? Most likely. Theoretically speaking, if we train our brains to remember these lists, then there’s less of a chance of forgetting our lists…
And on that listy note, here’s how to stop writing and start remembering lists:
Start by making small changes. Remember our “3 Tips To Make You Happier” blog and Kaizen’s 6 small steps? Well this is the perfect time to put those steps into action.
- Write your list (be strict with what will feature – no airy fairy stuff) and this time instead of writing 2 of the to-dos, remember them instead.
- Each week memorise 2 more additional to-dos. You’ll be slowly training your brain to remember your own mental list.
- After week 4 you’ll be memorising 8 things from your list, which is pretty cool and your brain will be loving it.
- P.S. If you’ve got more than 8 things on your list, maybe think about taking an early sabbatical to chill out a little.
Stop Brushing Your Teeth With The Same Hand
Flex The Other Side Of Your Brain & Exercise Your Neuroplasticity
Try it and it’ll feel super-weird. Almost like you’re a kid again and angry Auntie Margaret is brushing your teeth in that love-hate sort of way.
Now try controlling the television remote and getting the butter out of the fridge with your other hand. Feel strange? Yep! That’s because we’ve trained our body and brain to remember and master how to use our dominant hand.
For years at school we were made to write with our dominant hand, but is that really the way forward? Should we be getting the new generation to practice writing with both left and right hands with the potential to become ambidextrous? Enabling both sides of the brain to be stimulated, trained up equally and tapping into new potential memory-enhancing playgrounds. Dr Michael C. Corballis, describes the science behind left and right handedness:
“Handedness and brain asymmetry are inborn and under partial genetic control, although the gene or genes responsible are not well established.”
The fact the genes are “not well established” means that there’s scope to train the opposite hand and opposite side of the brain. Although this is easier to do when younger, it’s still doable when older.
There’s being ambidextrous in the sense of body parts, so how about becoming ambidextrous in brain function? Getting both sides of your brain working as hard as each other.
A study called: Enhancement of non-dominant hand motor function by anodal transcranial direct current stimulation, showed that when transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS – which is a non-invasive, low current method to stimulate brain activity) was used on the brain, they discovered that, “Anodal tDCS of the non-dominant primary motor cortex (the side of the brain which will be connected to your less-used hand) results in motor function enhancement and thus confirm and extend the notion that tDCS can change behavior.”
The study goes on to mention how the “cortical plasticity might be one of the reasons to explain motor performance enhancement in the non-dominant hand.” Other inspiring science-backed studies have shown that the effects of stimulating the brain in this way can be beneficial in different ways, both to the young and the elderly, “often producing improved cognitive performance, motor learning and working memory in healthy subjects.”
Now we aren’t telling you to go and buy a tDCS machine, as studies on the long-term effects of these machines and their usage are still ongoing. What we are suggesting, however, is to use a tDCS mimicking technique to tap into your neuroplasticity and memory’s potential. Here’s how:
- Try brushing your teeth, opening the milk carton, taking your make-up off and turning on electrical items with your non-dominant hand for a week.
- Watch how quickly you can train it to work in tandem with your dominant hand. This will take conscious re-conditioning and reminders as your brain is so conditioned to use your dominant hand.
Once you get into the rhythm of it, you’ll be on the road to ambidexterity in no time.
To summarise: it’s time to give up on the 2 lifelong habits ruining your memory’s potential and impose these new techniques to help train your memory for the better.
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- ps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304394006005544 Neuroscience Letters Volume 404, Issues 1–2, 14 August 2006, Pages 232-236