Helpful Strategies for Recalling Memories

7 ways to stop forgetting

Let’s face it — some people have an easier time recalling memories than others do. If you’re in the latter category, have no fear: The connection between our minds and our memories can be strengthened with a few simple methods.

Exercise the mind and body

According to the results of the Mayo Clinic’s Study on Aging, aerobic activity improves memory recognition. Moderate physical activity also helps reduce stress and improve alertness, a key component of memory recall.

Most theorists agree that the brain needs to be exercised in order to stimulate the growth of nerve connections that help advance memory recall. Thirty minutes of daily puzzles, like crosswords or Sudoku, will do the trick.

Eat right

Eating a diet that is rich in antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, B vitamins, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, helps the brain recognize and retrieve memories. The international journal of medical science and practice, The Lancelot, published a study that showed that adults age 50 –70 given a supplement rich in antioxidants for three years showed improved cognitive functioning. Jean Mayer of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging conducted a study that found that rats fed a diet rich in antioxidants for seven weeks performed memory exercises significantly better than rats fed unfortified food.

Sleep and relaxation

Theories on memory recall stress that our minds must be well-rested in order to tap into the degree of concentration that memory recognition requires. At least eight hours of sleep is recommended.

Meditation also strengthens memory recall. This theory is backed by studies at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, which document that meditation enlarges the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain in charge of the most complex mental activities.


One method for aiding memory recall is to pay attention. We forget the name of the person we were just introduced to because we are not focused on remembering it. To activate your concentration, find a way to repeat her name.

“It’s nice to meet you, Sue.”

Use the senses

Focus on retrieving visual details, such as colors and shapes, and take a mental picture of the person, information or moment you want to recall. Employ the sense of hearing; if there is a distinctive sound that will help you recall the event, grab it, or if you are memorizing a list, say the list out loud, focusing on the sound of your voice.

Mnemonic strategies

Acronyms are abbreviations that are formed using the beginning letters of a phrase. For instance, students learning order of operations in mathematics often use the acronym PEMDAS: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction.

Acrostics are similar to acronyms, but the first letters of the word form a sentence. The acrostic for order of operations in mathematics is Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.

Create a story or an association

A popular aid for improving memory is to add imagination into the mix. A list of 20 items is often easily memorized by creating a story that relates to the list of words. It is easier to memorize a fact if we associate it with something with which we are already familiar. When memorizing names, associate the person with a particular quality, perhaps one that starts with the letter of her first name.

In order to recall memories, we must repeat, practice and often times relearn. The more alert we are, the more effortlessly we can recall memories, and alertness is achieved by living a balanced and healthy life.

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