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When people need to briefly remember a phone number or just enough information to pass a test, they access their short-term memory. These memories can last a few minutes or a few seconds. On the other hand, remembering your childhood and personal information through the years makes use of long-term memory. Many people just accept the fact that they are forgetful, but there are many ways to improve a bad memory. Using various techniques over a substantial period of time is essential to improving long-term memory.
Underline or highlight the text you want to remember while reading a book. Doing so involves you more in the reading process, increasing the likelihood that you will retain what you’ve read.
Engage both the auditory and visual senses by reading aloud and repeating key information. Take notes while listening to a presentation -- or an audio recording of one -- or while watching an instructional video. Doing these things helps retain the information in your memory.
Use memory aids to move information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. Flashcards, drawings, pictures and other visuals can serve as memory enhancers.
Employ mnemonic techniques to help recall things you want to remember. These techniques employ word association games, acrostics, rhymes, acronyms, sayings, songs, poetry and phrases. A common example of a mnemonic is the use of the phrase “spring forward, fall back” to remember how to set the clocks for Daylight Saving Time.
Eat foods that improve the health of your brain, and drink lots of water. Such foods include protein, vegetables, fiber, green tea, and Omega-3 fats such as nuts, eggs, and soybeans. Don’t consume foods high in fat or sugar. Take a multivitamin daily to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need. A healthy brain enhances the long-term memory.
Exercise daily to supply your brain with the oxygen it needs to function at its optimal level. Oxygen affects your brain's ability to concentrate, which is essential for maintaining long-term memory.
Sleep seven to eight hours each night. Lack of sleep causes loss of concentration and disrupts the speed at which your brain processes information. Sleep improves the way you access your memories and strengthens those associations needed to make long-term memories.
Cynthia Tucker has been writing since 1999. She owns a company that specializes in ghostwriting and editing services. She writes on topics such as finance, fitness, relationships, self-help, and spirituality. Tucker holds a Master of Arts in Biblical studies from Saint Pete Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of South Florida.