Memory and concentration work together but one does not lead to the other. Memory is the ability to remember information, experiences and people. To concentrate is to direct your mental powers or your efforts towards a particular activity, subject or problem. Once something is stored in our brain, it is not forgotten. There may be difficulty in recalling the vital information. The information might however not have been stored. Just because you cannot remember something does not mean that you have forgotten it. What you have is a temporary failure to remember. But if you think of the millions of things each day that you do remember, you will realize that your memory is really quite astounding.
Why do you forget things? Most often, the frustrating problem of absentmindedness or lack or loss of concentration is to blame; and to solve it, you simply need to clean out the clutter in your life that is causing lapses in memory and train your brain to remember the things you so often forget. The capacity to store, recall and analyze any matter is a mere fraction of what is stored in your small brain. Each time the memory is stored, it becomes stronger and more indelible. Some memories you recall often become most ingrained. To make something easier to recall, you can practice remembering it often (a study technique used by many students). Factors that can impact concentration include the study environment and the structure you have for your study time. Other factors that can impact memory include the way you organize the information, how you use your body in the study process, how you use your brain in the study process and whether you include time for recall.
Depression is a leading cause of memory loss. Depressed people have low brain levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. These are chemicals that normally activate the hippocampus – the memory part of the brain where information is stored and retrieved. Antidepressants relieve depression in the majority of patients: memory, concentration and other cognitive functions usually start to improve quickly.
Some ways to tackle loss of memory are as follows:
- Get plenty of exercise, both physical and mental. Challenge the brain in new and creative ways throughout life. Join a book club, learn to play chess, sudoku etc. or use your right hand instead of your left if you are left-handed.
- Try to stay calm: Worry temporarily impairs your memory. Memories usually “freeze up” under stressful conditions. The harder you try to remember, the worse your memory is. The trick is to relax and refocus your mind – the memory usually returns.
- Stress – People who experience chronic stress due to job issues, family or money worries, etc. often experience memory problems. Stress raises levels of cortisol, but cortisol damages the hippocampus when brain levels remain high due to continuous stress. Stress should be taken seriously or memory problems will continue to worsen. Regular exercise, practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and yoga and spending more time doing pleasurable activities are ideal for reducing stress.
- Lack of sleep (insomnia) increases stress and anxiety, which raise cortisol levels. Depression can cause insomnia, as can stress. Once the underlying condition is relieved, sleep usually improves and memory problems are alleviated.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency accounts for a significant percentage of memory loss cases. The body uses vitamin B12 to produce myelin the sheathing on nerve cells. Low levels of myelin slow the transmission of nerve signals; this impairs memory and other cognitive functions. You need supplementation if levels are low.
- Diet: Eat nutritive foods; avoid sugar. Nutrients are the fuels that run your memory. Vitamins and minerals are essential for maintaining and improving your memory. You need Vitamin C and Vitamin E as well as omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B12, Thiamin, Iron, and Vitamin B6.
Make effective use of cues and reminders like sticky notes or a calendar. Most absentminded errors and memory loss can be overcome by having access to reminders.
The Switch-word “Reach” – Another way to remember a thing is to use the “Perfect Living” switch-word “Reach”. If you are desperately looking for a lost or misplaced item or trying to remember a vital information, just stay relaxed and then say aloud to yourself repeatedly – “Reach” and “Together” Do not think of the meaning of the words as your take your mind off the matter. In a short time, your subconscious mind will lead you to the solution to your problem.
There are many ways to train your brain to think more effectively. You can maximize your brain power and keep your brain agile as well. A more powerful mind can be yours, and you will be enlightened by the process!