Our memories are some of our most valuable possessions. Diseases like Alzheimer’s can have a devastating impact on the lives of not just the person suffering but also those around the person. But memory isn’t just something you need to worry about as you get older or become ill. We all need to remember many things in the modern world and this can take a toll on our brains. The good news is that you can train your brain and there are brain exercises and games that can actually improve your memory.
Before we start examining the different exercises, it’s important to note that other things can also impact your memory. Physical fitness, proper sleep and balanced nutrition are all important building blocks of a healthy brain and better memory. But you can also train your brain to be better and improve your memory.
When it comes to brain exercises and memories you need to remember the golden rule: repetition is king. You won’t improve your memory by doing a single exercise – you need to keep doing these exercises repeatedly to ensure they have a positive effect.
So, let’s check what are the eight interesting brain exercises to improve your memory.
1. Repeat what people say in your mind
How often do you talk to someone and then find it hard to recall what they just told you? It’s not always easy to remember what we’ve been told because we aren’t very good listeners. Indeed, it’s not just that we’re bad at remembering things – we often simply don’t listen carefully enough.
It’s a good idea to start improving the way you listen to people in order to boost your memory. One of the easiest tricks to do this is by repeating what people say to you. Of course, you can’t go around parroting people but you can repeat what they say in your mind.
This can seem confusing at the start but it will become easier as you keep doing it. Furthermore, you’ll probably notice that your conversations with people improve. You are actually paying more notice on everything they say rather than just skimming the content (often make it suitable for what you wanted to hear, not what was being said).
Another way to deepen this exercise is by creating images in your head of the things that are being said. For example, if someone is talking to you about the lunch they had, don’t just repeat the words but really imagine what every word looks like.
2. Play memory games
You can find tons of different memory games online and offline. Ever since we started playing games, we’ve been fascinated by memory. Indeed some of the earliest games in the history of the mankind have had a memory element to them.
You could, therefore, pick yourself some classic memory games. There are plenty of versions for children but even adults get to have their own share of fun memory games. Nowadays, with the rise of technology, you have even more options available. There are tons of apps you can download for your phone and practice your memory while you are on the go.
Alzheimers.net has published a list of eight brain-training games that can actually help you exercise the brain and to boost your memory. The games on the list are:
- Lumosity – a collection of cognitive and scientific games
- Dakim – a selection of games and puzzles to boost attention
- Clervermind–a game designed for those with Alzheimer’s
- Fit Brains Trainer – a collection of over 360 games and puzzles
- Cognifit Brain Fitness – a selection of games designed by neuroscientists
- Brain Trainer – a selection of games in categories like language, match and speed
- Brain Metrics – a selection of brain fitness games with focus on IQ and spatial intelligence
- Eidetic – a repetition based game that can help you learn interesting facts about the world
You would ideally want one or two of these apps on your device. As mentioned at the start, it is crucial to exercise your brain regularly. Therefore, the apps can be the most beneficial when you play the games regularly. A great idea would be to spend 15-minutes of your lunch hour to play these games or to unwind with a bit of gaming after work.
3. Observe 4 details of people you encounter in public
When you are out and about, you should start paying more attention to details around you. One of the most fun and easy exercises is to observe 4 details of the people you encounter in public. For example, if you are shopping and you pay for your purchases, pick out four details of the cashier. These can be anything – for example, you can remember they had red hair, they wore a green shirt, they had pearl earrings, and the name tag said ‘Susie’. The objective is to then recall these details later. You could come home in the evening and remind yourself of the four details.
The exercise helps you do two things. First, it gives your brain the opportunity to do what it is supposed to do: remember things. You train it subtly in this as there is no real harm in forgetting. Therefore, you can be much more relaxed in remembering these details. The other thing you are doing with this exercise is improving your observation. You’re not just going around lost in your own thoughts. You are actually trying to pay attention to the world around you and observe it to the full.
4. Recount your daily activities
Another similar exercise to the 4 details trick is to focus on your daily activities instead of people. The idea is to start re-listing things that you’ve done on a specific day or any activity such as shopping that you might be able to check as well to see you remembered correctly.
For example, when you go buy groceries, you might make a shopping list. Even if you don’t, you will get a list of items you bought in the form of the receipt. In the evening, a few hours after you’ve done the shopping, sit down to recall what you bought. Write down a copy of your shopping list or the receipt and see if you remembered all the items correctly.
You can also do this with a map of places you visited that day, names of the people you spoke to and a quick summary of the conversation and so on. You want to focus on the mundane, everyday things because these are the things we tend to overlook and forget. Again, by having to remember the things we often do unconsciously, you boost your memory and presence.
5. Create your own memory palace
One of the most popular memory exercises it the creation of memory palace. The exercise is all about memorizing features in your vicinity and creating an image in your head about the surroundings. It develops your spatial memory and helps you concentrate more on those little details you don’t normally pay any attention to.
You can use a memory palace for everything. It’s just about creating a visual palace of things you want to remember – you could use it to learn a language or play the guitar. But you can start with something much easier than that; creating a memory of your own home or the things you love.
To best understand the power of memory palace you want to consider how you can recall new and old information. If you think about your own home or your local supermarket, you can probably just remember some fuzzy details. You might even stop to think whether you had a mirror in the hallways or not. But if you think about a friend’s home you just visited, the situation can be different. This is because you pay more attention to a new situation. With the memory palace exercise, you start creating images of everything consciously even if they don’t seem important or necessary.
6. Adding and reducing numbers of your choice
Numeracy is a great skill to have and it’s crucial in terms of our memory. If you can remember calculations and numbers, you might have a good memory in other areas of life as well. Now, there are a number of different exercises when it comes to boosting your numeracy skills and improving your memory as a result. One of the easiest ones simply involves adding and subtracting numbers.
Start by picking any three-digit number, such as 324. Now, add three to this number three times. This would give you number 333. Subtract number seven from this number for seven times. Your total number would be 284. You don’t, of course, just have to work with number three and seven. You could pick a five-digit number and add five to the number for five times. Then you could subtract the number eight for eight times. You can use your imagination and skills.
Now, the game is simple yet effective. It forces you to memorise numbers while focusing on using your mathematical skills at the same time. It requires plenty of concentration and focus – therefore, it is super effective.
7. Learn a new language
If you want to protect yourself against cognitive impairment, such as memory loss, you need to have a rich vocabulary. What is the easiest route to a wide vocabulary? Learn another language. Learning another language is a great way to boost your brainpower but also ensure you improve your memory in the process. The act of learning a language actually slows down your brain from aging and thus can directly impact your memory loss.
The process of language learning is also a good one for using your memory muscles. You need to remember a lot of different things; not just the words, but also how the grammar rules are applied in your chosen language.
Interestingly, there is proof to suggest that learning a language can even help you become better at making decisions. A study by the University of Chicago found that those who are multi-lingual also tend to have improved decision-making skills compared to those who can only speak one language.
Learning a new language is not as difficult and anyone can do it. You just need to pick a language that excites you and start practicing.
8. Clapping along to a metronome
Finally, you could boost your concentration and the ability to be present with a simple metronome exercise. Now, it doesn’t necessarily help you improve your memory directly, but the improved focus on being present can improve your ability to pick little details from your surroundings easier.
You simply have to put on a metronome at a relatively slow speed and then clap to the click. So, each time you hear a click, you will want to clap. The whole idea of this exercise is not to click after you hear the sound but exactly at the same time. Therefore, you have to pay attention to the speed and predict the right time for your clap. Now, if you don’t have a metronome, you can buy on through VoucherBin.co.uk from retailers like Argos and GAME. All in all, these sorts of rhythm exercises can be super effective. You can find apps like Beat MP3 if you’d like to practice these further.
As you can see, there are numerous ways to exercise your brain and improve memory. The exercises will make it easier to focus on the most important things, concentrate more on the tasks ahead of you and be more able to be present. Memory isn’t just about trying to go back in time and figure what happened. It’s also about being present in the future so that you create a proper memory of the events. Therefore, it’s important to use exercises to stay focused, concentrated and present in the here and now.
If you want to improve your memory, you’ll definitely want to adopt at least some of the above eight exercises to your daily routine. You’ll quickly start noticing a difference not just in remembering things but also in your quality of life.