“That’s the lady from school, what’s her name again?” ” Where the heck did I put my sunglasses?!”

If it seems like you’re having trouble remembering stuff, you’re not alone. Mommy brain is not a myth.

An Australian study, published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, confirms what new moms have known all along…carrying a baby can make you more forgetful. And pregnancy memory loss can continue for years after birth.

Couple this with our growing reliance on gadgets to store information and, as a society, our collective memories are getting worse.

One national poll found that overstressed, multitasking, technology-reliant millennials are more likely to forget where they left their keys than those 55 and over. Call it the “Google effect”. We’re less likely to recall something, when we know we can just look it up later.

A survey conducted by Kaspersky Lab found, “half of all respondents couldn’t call their closest friends or family members without looking at their contact list.”

Memory Can Be Improved

You need to pay attention to something to learn it. These days, most of us do the opposite. But there is hope!

Unlike your hair color, a good memory isn’t just born, it can be MADE. Your memory is a lot like a muscle. The more you use and train it, the stronger it gets.

Not sure where to begin? We’ve got some proven memory training strategies designed to give your mind the workout it needs. Get ready to say bye-bye mommy brain once and for all.


If You Always Forget People’s Names…

Try the graphic imagery or linking method. Names are pretty arbitrary, and faces can look similar. You want to link a name with a visual cue so that it will jog your memory when you see that person again. It works like this:

You meet a guy named Dennis at a party. Create an image in your mind of someone who reminds you of that name, let’s say the cartoon character Dennis the Menace. Then pick the person you met’s most noticeable feature, such as being super tall, or having red hair.

Now picture the image with the feature, a 7 foot tall cartoon kid, or Dennis the Menace with flaming red hair. When you run into Dennis another day, his hair or height will be linked to the character, and you’ll say “oh Dennis, lovely to see you again”.

If You Can’t Remember Dates Or Numbers…

Try the chunking method. Assign numbers into smaller groups of 3 or 4 digits, which are easier to remember, and then assign meaning to each data chunk.

As an example, if your ATM PIN number is 81256, you can say, “I ate (8) a dozen donuts (12) on highway 56.” We bet you never forget your PIN number again!

It works with credit card numbers, anniversaries, phone numbers…. Heck, my dad made a little song like this about my bike lock combination in the third grade and I STILL remember that number. Chunking really works!

Also In Beenke: Meditation For Parents: The Surprising Benefits!


If You Try To Recall Useful Facts, But Can’t…

Use mnemonics. You probably learned some of these as a child. If you need to remember a list of items, like all of the essential amino acids for an exam; Isolate the first letter of each item you want to remember, then create an acronym out of those letters.

For the amino acid example, that would be Pvt. Tim Hall (Phenylanine, Valine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Isolucine, Histidine, Arginine, Leucine, Lysine). You can also use this technique to remember the steps of a process at work, the names of all the states…anything.

The first letter of the acronym is a huge memory clue, it narrows your focus. Then, after repeating the mnemonic a few times, the repetition will transfer it to memory.

Next time you’re at school or work, think of your acronym and the facts will follow.

If You Can’t Remember Your Grocery List, Or Any List For That Matter…

Sure you can write it down, and the act of writing does help transfer things to memory. But sometimes in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, mama ain’t got time to write out a list. That’s when you can try the memory palace technique.

Picture a familiar room in your house, like your bedroom. Mentally move through the room placing the items you need to remember for your list in specific locations.

Say you need to pick up some toilet paper, milk, shampoo, bread, and peanut butter. Picture your jewelry box wrapped in toilet paper, milk spilled on your dresser, a shampoo bottle on your pillow, bread on the bed, and peanut butter on the rug. The weirder the placement of the items in your imagination, the better.

When you go to the store…you just have to mentally walk through your room and see the toilet paper covered jewelry box, etc. and you’ll remember every item you need to buy!

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6 Brain Boosting Habits

Any great boxer will tell you, it’s not just what you do in the ring that counts. How you train outside matters too. Same goes for memory. You want to make it to that doctor’s appointment next week? You’ve gotta give your brain the activities and fuel it needs to thrive! Here’s some smart habits that can further improve your recall and put an end to mommy brain.

1. Build Strong Friendships

After tracking the social behaviors of more than 700 people over 15 years, Australian researchers found that those who maintained more close friendships scored better on memory tests.

Being in regular contact with friends keeps you on your toes by engaging the problem-solving regions of your brain, like when you and your girlfriends debate a new film or try to figure out what your boss’ weird comment meant. So keep in touch!

Also In Beenke: Why Moms Need Their Girlfriends More Than Ever

2. Move Your Body

According to research, vigorous cardio four hours after learning new info heightens recall and activates areas of the brain needed for memory retrieval. The four hour window is KEY.

Working out immediately after learning something new didn’t have the same effect. So study or practice that speech in the morning, leave it alone for a few hours, then hit the gym. The information will be more likely to stick.

Also In Beenke: Best Exercises For Weight Loss

3. Get Some Sleep

Take in some new information, then take a siesta. Sleep triggers brain changes that make memories more solid. And like exercise, the timing matters.

You want to take in the information just before sleeping. Reading before bed just got even better.

4. Read A Book

Speaking of reading…try picking up a good, old-fashioned hard copy book with actual pages. Studies show that e-readers are worse at recalling the order that events occur in a story when compared to hard copy book readers.

The theory is that the physicality of books; flipping pages, feeling the weight of the book shift as you get farther along, may help recall.  

5. Challenge Yourself

Choose a stimulating new hobby, take more responsibility at your job, change careers… just get out of your comfort zone!  Taking on new mental challenges is a sure-fire way to keep your brain firing on all cylinders.

A study by researchers at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons found that people with more than six intellectual, physical, or social leisure activities were 38 percent less likely to develop dementia—and with each additional hobby, their risk decreased by another 8 percent.

Similarly, researchers found that people who take on challenging job assignments have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

6. Smell This

A recent British study found that the scent of rosemary oil can improve long-term memory. The theory is that it enhances the activity of chemical messengers in your brain tied to recollection. Try putting a few drops of rosemary essential oil in a diffuser and breathing it in for a few minutes throughout your day.

You can’t avoid the hormonal changes that cause mommy brain in the first place, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless to fight back. If you use these proven memory techniques in the ring, and practice our brain boosting habits outside of it, you’ll soon find yourself remembering names, dates, and places like a champ.  

No more tearing up the house. You’ll know exactly where your your keys and sunglasses are!


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