Don't you just love it when this happens? You go to another room in the house for some reason and there you are, but you can't remember why. Or, you shake someone's hand and forget their name before you even let go. Oh, and my favorite: running into the grocery store to pick up two or three items, only to head home without the most important ingredient--which was why you went to the store in the first place. That's just annoying.
The symptoms of poor short-term memory can be caused by preoccupation, distractions, lack of focus, and a weakened memory muscle. Sure, it gets worse as we age, but people who are overwhelmed struggle with forgetfulness at any age. Entrepreneurs certainly fit into this category.
None of it is totally out of your control. Try these slightly off-beat ways to exercise your memory muscle and you could see an improvement in weeks.
1. Chew gum while learning.
Perhaps gum should be allowed in the classroom after all since some studies show that chewing gum while learning allows for more accurate and improved reaction times. And, for reasons unknown, it increases activity in the hippocampus, an important area of the brain for memory. One study performe in the U.K. found that gum-chewers' test scores were 24 percent higher for immediate word recall, and 36 percent higher on tests of delayed word recall. What's your favorite gum?
2. Move your eyes from side to side.
It may feel a bit crazy, but this sideways action can help to stimulate memory. It's said that horizontal eye movements help activate and link the two brain hemispheres. One study found that participants who moved their eyes back and forth for 30 seconds each morning performed their memory tasks better by an average of 10%.
3. Clench your fists.
Typically, something we do under stress or when we're angry, clenching your fist while committing something to memory improves the odds of recall. Some say to clench your dominant hand to store a memory and your other hand to recall it. Hold it for about 45 seconds. Fist clenching is said to activate brain regions related to memory retention.
4. Use unusual fonts.
It takes a great amount of concentration to read something that's difficult, including a tricky font. The increased concentration is believed to make it easier to remember what you've read. I suppose the few seconds it takes to copy and paste on-line content into a Word document and apply a funky font could pay off.
Maybe it's not a sign of inattentiveness when your child doodles in the classroom. Plenty of research shows that doodling can help people stay focused, grasp new concepts, and retain information. Beginning with a blank piece of paper entices the brain to explore, revise, and improve on creative thoughts and ideas.
Probably my favorite, laughter has improved scores on short-term memory tests in research studies. After watching a funny video for 20-minutes, cortisol levels were lowered for participants. Since this hormone is associated with stress, which is known to negatively impact the memory, a good dose of daily laughter will prove beneficial for your overall health.
7. Practice good posture.
This is something I like to do when I'm speaking to an audience on topics of stress and mindset mastery. Studies show that posture can measurably affect the memory. It's likely that the memories you recall while slouching with your eyes cast downward will be negative in nature. Give it a try--notice how slouching impacts your mood. Conversely, sit up or stand up straight and tilt your chin up--now it's nearly impossible to recall and dwell upon negative memories. As a bonus, sitting up straight may boost blood flow by up to 40 percent.
8. Eat a Mediterranean Diet.
We know that eating right is important to brain function. Research shows that diets high in vegetables, omega 3's, and fruits may help preserve the memory as we age. A Mediterranean Diet--which is high in fruits, veggies, and omega-3's (like in fish and olive oil)--may help preserve memory loss as we get older. Studies resulted in a 19 percent lower likelihood of cognitive problems in those who ate more omega-3 fatty acids, and avoided red meats and dairy.
Research shows that even those with no experience in meditation can improve their memory recall in just eight weeks. Regular meditation improves your ability to focus, and even pass tests. I can testify to this as it definitely affects my focus and short-term memory when I fall off my meditation track. This may be why:
Studies at Harvard Medical School revealed that people who meditate have more control over alpha rhythm--a brain wave believed to filter out everyday distractions, allowing more important things to process. This is only one hypothesis. Meditation is known to significantly increase blood flow to the brain and multiply storage mechanisms, ensuring that your brain retains the ability to store new memories now, and as you age.
Go now. Clench your fists, move your eyes from side to side (this one makes me slightly dizzy), sit up nice and straight, and see if you can laugh and chew gum at the same time.