We use our memory and concentration all our lives. When we are children, we learn to develop them, but as the years go by, we must learn to preserve them and even, why not, to improve them. We explain how.
Concentration and Memory : What Is It?
Definition and Types Of Memory
Memory is defined by our biological and psychic capacity to store and restore information. It is also about remembering certain particular things in a given area (Larousse).
There are five types of memory:
- Working memory: also called short-term memory. It is the memory of the present which makes it possible to retain information during the realization of action, for example, to remember a number the time to note it down;
- Semantic memory: it concerns language as well as knowledge about the world and oneself. It is built throughout our life;
- Episodic memory: this is the memory that deals with our autobiographical events. It allows us to situate ourselves in time and space, to project ourselves into the future, and to tell our memories;
- Procedural memory: it is the memory of automatisms; it works in an unconscious way to allow us to drive, ride a bike or play an instrument without having to relearn;
- Perceptive memory: this is the memory linked to the senses. It is the one we use to remember faces or to be able to go home without feeling like we’re thinking about it.
Concentration is defined by the act of focusing all one’s attention on the same object (Larousse). Just like memory, we can work and increase our concentration throughout our lives.
The Brain and Memory
Our brain can store 1 million billion bits, much more than a computer. However, human memory is said to be selective; it only holds what is useful. Different areas of the brain are called upon according to the type of memory, and this one changes according to our intellectual activity. It has been shown, for example, that cab drivers who memorize many street names during their career have a more extensive than the average hippocampus.
What Factors Can Reduce Memory and Concentration?
As we age, our cells become damaged and less functional, the neuronal membranes harden and transmit less information between neurons. This phenomenon can cause memory and concentration problems. We have more difficulty remembering close but also old events, and it is even more challenging to stay focused on the same subject for a long time.
Concentration and memory problems can occur due to stress, overwork, or depression. We are more easily distracted and have difficulty focusing on something.
Medical causes can affect memory and concentration. Stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, or a brain tumor usually have a severe impact on both of these abilities.
Can You Boost Your Memory and Concentration?
To Take Exams: One-Time Boost During a Period of High Activity
There are times when you want to boost your memory and concentration; exams are the perfect example! This is a one-time need, where you can take a course of vitamins for memory and food supplements while your exams are over.
Also, think about resting; it is during sleep that memory works best. If you don’t sleep well during your exams, your brain will not record information as well.
For Seniors: The Desire to Improve Cognitive Functions
After a certain age, memory and concentration deteriorate almost inevitably. To delay this process, you need to work on your memory and follow a few rules to increase your engagement.
To fight against concentration problems in senior adults, do memory training exercises, crosswords, reading, sudoku. These activities will help you maintain your cognitive functions.
Also, try to maintain a maximum of social interactions. They will stimulate your mind and help keep your memory and concentration.
How to Improve Your Memory and Concentration?
Fight Against Stress
One of the biggest enemies of memory and concentration is stress! It makes us lose our means and disturbs our cognitive functions. We must therefore eliminate it. To do this, there is nothing like meditation to help you relax. Remember also to rest well; fatigue increases stress, which will affect your memory and concentration.
Take Care of Your Diet.
Several foods are beneficial for the brain and memory to improve your memory and concentration by choosing the right foods. For example, walnuts have many benefits for the brain thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids they contain. These fatty acids are beneficial for the brain because they maintain the nerve cells’ membrane and ensure that information is well transmitted between them.
You can also eat salmon, berries, and eggs to help your brain.
To help your memory and concentration, you can rely on aromatherapy. Many plants are good for our memory, including lavender, lemon, rosemary, and green cypress. Don’t hesitate to diffuse essential oils at home; it will also improve your concentration.
You can also take food supplements if you wish. They are generally available in the form of drops, tablets, capsules, and ampoules. A wide choice that guarantees you will find the best option for you.
To combat memory and concentration problems, health professionals can prescribe homeopathy to overcome the lack of class concentration, especially at exam time.
You can also take memory vitamins to help you stay alert, such as vitamin B.
How to Improve Your Concentration: 3 Easy Exercises
1 – Concentration Through Visualization in Just Three Steps
Sit on a chair, back straight, shoulders relaxed, hands-on thighs, and close your eyes. Become aware of the points of support of your body with the chair and observe your breathing. It will gradually become calmer, and your body will relax.
Now think of an ordinary object (a stone, a feather, a pen, etc.), the first one that comes to mind. Concentrate on this object: its color, its texture, its reflections, its brightness, the details of its outline, etc.
Now, turn this object in your mind:
- Observe it from every angle.
- Focus your attention on the details, discover its particularities, become aware of your capacity to concentrate.
- Let the object go away and concentrate this time on your body, move your legs, breathe more fully, stretch, open your eyes, the exercise is over!
2 – Concentration at Work
Colleagues are discussing, e-mails piling up, etc. So many office life elements that can distract us daily and therefore lengthen the time spent on specific tasks. For this exercise, choose an activity on which you generally have difficulty concentrating. Let’s take the example of a report to write:
First, set a time limit: we are more efficient when we are forced to act faster and more focused.
Then try to list the factors that can distract you (the telephone, a colleague, coffee breaks that are offered to you, etc.) and find a way to defuse them. For example, transferring your calls to a colleague’s extension for a few hours or giving yourself a limited number of coffee breaks per day at a fixed time.
Next, clean up your unfinished tasks: make a list of everything that’s not finished and set a goal of getting rid of one lesson a day. Not cluttering your mind with clutter will improve your concentration.
3 – Concentration Through the Five Senses
You can boost your concentration by using several senses. Working on multiple sensory levels makes it easier to learn new knowledge. For example, to learn new words in a foreign language, it is best to listen to them, see them written in a textbook and write them in a notebook to feel them. Imagine yourself at the water’s edge, in the sun. Close your eyes and imagine.
- You see the blue sea, the seagulls, the boats,
- You hear the lapping of the waves, the cry of the birds, the wind,
- You feel the breeze on your face, the sand under your fingers, the warmth of the sun,
- You perceive the smell of the sea spray,
- You have in your mouth the taste of mint candy.
Concentrate on one sense and ignore the others. Do the same for each of the other reasons separately until you can concentrate on each one for 3 to 4 minutes. From then on, start working on two and then three senses. To maintain your concentration, you must maintain a healthy and balanced diet. The adage “A healthy mind in a healthy body” is correct. You can also work on your memory with a few exercises that will boost your memory skills.
The Following Tips Can Help You Improve Your Memory Skills.
Sleep to Store Memories of The Day
The brain takes advantage of the night to sort and classify the memories of the day. It is during the REM sleep phases that the neurons organize the information received during the day. If you miss one of these two or three nocturnal phases, the consolidation of your memories is very disturbed.
Eating Foods Rich in Omega 3
Healthy and balanced food play an essential role in the functioning of our brain, especially certain nutrients. Thus, the omega-three contained in fish eggs and fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, etc.) are suitable for memory.
Do Not Abuse Alcohol.
High doses of alcohol can cause irreversible damage to the neurons after a few years. Long-term memory impairment due to brain damage has been found in sober alcoholics.
Choosing a Job that Maintains Memory
If you have the time and desire, you can become an ornithologist, astronomer, or amateur mycologist. Practicing how to recognize birds, constellations, or mushrooms is a great way to keep your memory alive and impress your friends!
Relying on Mnemonic Clues
“But where is Ornicar?”, “Napoleon cheerfully ate six fishes without slamming money,” “Cerberus moans in hell”… Who hasn’t learned one of those phrases that allow memorizing conjunctions, declensions, and other chemical elements? How about inventing your mnemonic names?
Reading to Make Your Neurons Work.
Reading is the brain activity par excellence. By making your neurons work, task maintains and even improves your performance. Don’t you know which books to choose from? How about revisiting the history of France and the world? Immerse yourself in the splendid frescoes, historical novels, and other testimonials. These readings should also revive your memory of dates and make you glueless by recalling buried school memories! You won’t forget the date of the Battle of Marignan!