The Journey Method, also known as the Roman Room or the method of loci, is a simple and effective technique that goes back to ancient Rome. It is based on using a well-known journey and connecting the landmarks and steps on the journey with items that you wish to remember. Everyone has a routine, and you can use anything: either the walk to work, your morning routine, or a walk through a park that you have done so often that you remember the individual trees along the path.
To implement this technique it is better first to prepare the journey. Put an image of it in your head and list the landmarks clearly. It is also possible to write everything down, but this isn’t necessary. Once you know your journey well, you just need to add an item that you want to remember to every step or landmark. An example of a morning routine as a journey: brushing teeth – King of spades, showering – Queen of hearts, cooking breakfast – 10 of diamonds. This is a common method for memorizing decks of cards, but can be used for memorizing lists, the table of elements, and pretty much anything else.
In addition to the Journey Method there are other tricks you can use depending on what kind of learner you are, which you can find out here. People who learn well visually can use the method of associating an image with a word or name to help remember them better: images that are three-dimensional, colorful and positive are easier to remember. If you need to say something out loud to remember it, then try making a sentence in which the first letter of every word is part of what you want to remember. This also works great with acronyms. It works best if you think of the acronym yourself, but there are plenty of free websites that can help you generate one if you’re stuck. If you’re musically inclined then try rhyming or using alliteration. Even using a joke can be an effective memory technique.
There are other everyday things that you can do to improve your memory. The first is to find activities that give your brain a work out, this can be any activity that does the following four things: it teaches you something new, it’s challenging, it’s a skill you can build on, and it’s rewarding. In combination with mental exercises you should also exercise physically, because anything good for the heart is also good for the brain. Aerobic exercises or something that requires hand-eye-coordination are great for the brain. Getting enough sleep is another often overlooked factor in retaining information. Studies show that important processes that enhance memory occur during the deepest stages of sleep. Having a regular sleep schedule, avoiding looking at screens an hour before bedtime, and limiting caffeine intake can go a long way.
Although challenging your brain with intellectual activities seems like the best way to improve memory, studies show that having fun, spending time with friends, and having healthy relationships in general are crucial. Even socializing with a friendly dog can have a positive effect. It is also important to eat a diet full of omega-3 acids, fruits, vegetables, green tea, and wine (in moderation). It also helps to limit the saturated fats that are found in red meat, milk, butter and cheese: this can actually impair your concentration and memory as well as increase your risk of getting dementia.
The next two tips come hand in hand: avoid stress, and laugh! Stress is terrible for general health as well as the brain, and chronic stress can even kill brain cells. To avoid stress it’s important to maintain a good balance between work and leisure, express your feelings frequently, and set realistic expectations; which may require you to say “no” to certain tasks. Meditation is also a great way to relieve stress. Laughing is self-explanatory; and in some countries, such as India, employees take breaks from work to participate in laughter yoga. Studies have shown that this has incredible benefits. Although at first you fake laughing because you are told to do so, it quickly becomes into real laughter and does wonders for your health and your memory.
Taking into consideration all the previous tips, here are a few websites offering games for adults to improve their memory. Some are simple, and you need to play them regularly to get faster and better. But if you are serious about improving your memory, you may want to take a look at Lumosity. It offers a customized program that allows people to choose what they want to improve (memory, concentration, problem-solving, etc.), and its tracks your progress. The following are just a few examples of links with various memory-training games, but there are endless others online: Brain Metrix, iBraining, Memory Improvement Tips.