Being a student is anything but easy. Being buried with dozens of facts and problems daily can wear anyone down. Add to that the fact that every student needs to learn at least 10 books each year to pass the finals, and you suddenly realize that this is a super-human task that would require an outstanding memory power. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. With clever, memory-increasing techniques, and our memory improvement tips and tricks, anyone can increase their memory power.
Whenever you hear a student complain, it is usually because of the immense burden of all the things they have to learn over a very short time period. Just imagine your mind buzzing and at the same time, feeling like it’s filled with wool – that’s a typical studying session for many students.
This burden can lead to increased stress levels, which, in turn, may cause mental and physical health issues. Although stress can have mild consequences at the beginning, it can become severe over time, and even decrease your memory power.
However, it doesn’t have to be like this. There are ways to optimize your brain, increase memory, and keep your mental and physical health intact. Once you increase your memory power, you won’t have to be under stress, which can also cause memory loss.
Brain and Learning – The Basics
Our brains are learning machines that take in everything that we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste and draw conclusions from those experiences. Every time we learn something, our brains either alter the structure of our cells or increase the number of synapses between them. To put it simply, the more we know, the more we stretch our brain’s learning capacity (National Research Council 2000).
This capacity is enormous, but not infinite. Also, our brains need to meet certain conditions to memorize. Most students are aware of this on some level. However, few actively consider it until they need to learn many things and do it quickly.
3 Mistakes Most People Make When Studying
1. Marathon studying – you start in the morning and refuse to leave your desk until 10 minutes before the exam begins. Ten hours, 16 or 48, you believe you can do it. You need to cram everything into your mind and it will be alright. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Our brains can’t hold focus for such a long-time period and maintain quality learning. Also, although the brain is a magnificent machine, it needs rest to process new information.
2. Not sleeping enough – you’re just starting the semester, and parties are simply irresistible, or you’re ending it, and there’s no time to sleep if you want to pass your finals. Sleep deprivation won’t help. In fact, it will have a detrimental effect on your brain health. Lack of sleep can impair your ability to focus, learn, and consolidate memories (Stepan 2019).
3. Neglecting your body – yes, we know, being a student is tough. Everything can be a distraction, but some things are too important to suffer. You need to exercise and eat right if you want your mind to function properly (Gómez-Pinilla 2010).
When we’re not learning the right way, and we’re unsuccessful at memorizing information, we get stressed. It’s completely normal. We’re only human, and no human being likes failure. However, failure leads to stress and that’s where the real dangers lie.
Research shows that increased stress levels stress have the following effects:
- Promote disease (Carnegie Mellon University 2012)
- Affect the heart (Stress.org. n.d.)
- Cause weight gain (Scott, Melhorn & Sakai 2012)
- Cause digestive problems (Huerta-Franco et al. 2013)
- Affect sexuality and the reproductive system (Bodenmann et al. 2010)
- Adverse effects on the brain (Bernstein 2016)
Stress can harm your brain’s ability to process new information. Moreover, improper study habits similar to the points mentioned above can lead to memory loss, kill brain cells (Branan 2007) and even reduce the size of your brain (Yale University 2012).
Brain Techniques to Improve Memory
However intelligent you are, no one is perfect. We all need to work on ourselves to reach our goals. If you want to improve your memory, don’t bang your head against a wall. Use these techniques instead:
* Visualize – associate an image with what you’re trying to remember. Positive images work best. Then, when you need the information, that image will pop into your mind, together with the information.
* Create acronyms – take the first letters of the words or ideas you’re trying to memorize and create a word out of them. Memorize the acronym, and then, when you’re in a pinch, you’ll need that word to remind you of the entire material segment.
* Chunk it – break apart large bulks of information into smaller, more manageable ones. Learn them one-by-one while taking breaks in between.
* Repeat it – create rhymes, alliteration, or jokes from the most troubling parts you have to learn. This creative effort alone will make those segments easier to recollect.
*Relate it – if you have to study unfamiliar material, make sure to draw mental lines between it and the things you already know. When you establish a link between new ideas and old memories, you will memorize them easier.
* Elaborate and rehearse it – read the key term, read its definition, and then learn it. Then, when you can repeat it to yourself with understanding, read a more detailed description of the topic. Going from smaller things and building up to larger ones will make recalling a lot easier.
Memory Improvement Tips
Physical exercise – There’s an old Latin saying “Mens sana in corpore sano,” which translates as “A sound mind in a sound body.” As long as you take good care of your body and ensure sufficient physical activity, your brain will be able to function properly. Physical activity leads to an increase in blood flow, which in turn results in memory capacity improvements in our brains (Godman 2018). So, go to dance lessons, to the gym, walk, swim, or run – whatever gives you at least two hours of physical activity per week.
A good night’s sleep – Getting at least eight hours of sleep is not just a marketing trick. It’s something your brain really needs to memorize everything you placed into it. To put it in computing terms – if you give your brain sufficient time to process the information, it will manage to store it properly. This means files won’t get corrupted or lost in the transfer.
Healthy diet – Eating well isn’t important just for your body, but your mind as well. Your brain needs foods that assist its increased activity when you need to learn more (Boost your memory by eating right 2012). Ingest foods rich in omega 3 fats, quality proteins, and slow-release carbs. Stay clear of foods and drinks that provide short energy boosts – they will make your brain sluggish quickly after that initial burst.
Mental exercise – For some people, mental exercise is playing chess. For others, it’s a good read. You can do puzzles or play memory improvement games to train your brain to recollect things in a faster and more accurate manner. But, according to research, meditation (Mrazek et al. 2014) is a mental exercise that shows desired results. Simply taking the time to think about your breathing, posture, and thoughts can help your brains function better. So yes, meditation helps, or, more precisely, mindfulness training does.
In the End
Whenever a semester nears its end, or a particularly tricky exam is in sight, millions start Googling “How to increase memory power in students” in high hopes of a miracle solution. Although we’re not offering a miracle drug like the one from the famous Bradley Cooper movie “Limitless”, we have something better. We have techniques and tips that are backed by scientific evidence. That will make all the difference and lead to your memory improving significantly.
As long as you use at least a few of the above-listed ways to improve your memory, you won’t just be able to learn more and faster. You will also reap significant health benefits. So when you look at it that way, there are no downsides to taking our advice, is there? Give it a shot, and let us know if it works for you.