Many people confuse being forgetful with just plain inattention. To cite some familiar examples, ‘forgetting’ where you left your keys, your cell phone’s location or where you placed your handbag isn’t the same as forgetting your first telephone number decades ago, your 3rd grade math test score, or what your best friend’s first address is. First we’ll differentiate the difference between the two sets of examples then we’ll move on to how you can improve your overall memory.
Short-term Vs Long-Term Memory
If you noticed, the first set of examples talk about things you may have done just a few minutes or hours ago. When you come home, you slip into something comfortable or prepare to relax. During the process, you might have placed your keys or wallet somewhere you couldn’t remember. The problem with short-term memory is that inattention will force you to ‘neglect’ those memory cues. It’s not that you forgot where you placed them; the problem was that you never really bothered to notice since your mind was somewhere else.
The second set of examples talk about something ages ago that you are sure to forget. For this group of examples, the main reason why you forgot about them is that you didn’t really bother to think about it and it just got buried under other more important information. Unless you are always thinking or referring back to your first phone number, there’s very little chance you’ll still commit it to memory.
Your Brain Potential
There’s an age-old adage that says “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” When it comes to the brain, it doesn’t hold true. Keep in mind that the human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change – even in our golden years. We simply think that learning is only applicable for young people; but that’s because during the young or formative years, the brain is highly shapeable. All your brain needs is the right stimulation, and your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt to the new ways.
Exercise and Sleep
Similar to how an athlete needs sleep and a strict diet to perform his or her best, your brain’s ability also relies on a good diet, enough sleep, and other healthy habits. You might wonder why exercise can help improve your memory when all it does is bulk up your muscles. Physical exercise increases oxygen flow to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss. During exercise our body also releases hormones or brain chemicals that help protect your brain cells.
When you’re sleep-deprived, tasks like creativity, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking skills are compromised. Even if you’re studying, balancing your finances, working, or just buying something from the grocery, a lack of sleep is dangerous on many levels. Aside from letting you focus and concentrate on the task at hand, sleep is also necessary for memory consolidation. Memory consolidation is the process when a short-term memory (the notes you...