Does your memory ever fail you? If you have fibromyalgia, autoimmune challenges, or you’re over the age of 14, that’s akin to asking, “Do you ever breathe?” We’re bombarded with so much information it’s surprising we can remember anything at all. So, if your memory faculties have become more miss than hit lately, you’ll appreciate this quick mnemonic memory trick. Leave a trail of clues for yourself with the tips learned in this technique!
Here’s the deal – you’re running to the store to pick up eggs, some organic fresh greens, Lindt 90% dark chocolate, a birthday card, and Epsom salts. (Can I get three cheers for the diversity that Target has to offer?)
Then as you’re headed out the door, you receive a text from your spouse asking if you can pick up some toothpaste, too.
What are you going to forget?
Yep. The toothpaste.
We often forget the item that was added last (by someone else). Or, we forget the main item we were going for in the first place. Adding stressful fibrofog to the mix sure doesn’t help. Either memory lapse results in a frustrating palm smack against your forehead when you get home.
Avoid the palm smack!
Try this Memory Palace technique instead.
It’s as simple as 1-2-3.
- Visualize your own familiar place (your palace) — such as your own home
- Visualize a specific path through that familiar place
- Visualize the items you need at the store IN RELATIONSHIP to your familiar place
Here’s how it works.
Imagine a familiar part of your home. Imagine a path that you take as you walk through that part of your home. For demonstration purposes, I’ll detail the entry of my house.
First, I walk into my entry and I immediately see a round table in the center. As I pass by, there’s a door to my kitchen to my right, and stairs to my left. (Notice that Pup curls up on the floor wherever I point the camera.) As I continue forward, I step down into my living room and dining room area. If I face left, I look toward my living room area that includes a couch, an ottoman, a fireplace and a fat, comfy chair.
Now, imagine that I need to remember the first FIVE items I listed above. Of course, it’s simple to write them down, but that’s not always practical. And, it’s important to stretch our memory skills now and then. All I need to actually remember is how many items I need. That I can do. Remember the number FIVE.
To practice the Memory Palace technique, we tie “disjointed information” to the familiar in order to jog our memory. We visualize the items we want to remember IN the environment that’s familiar.
1) Using my imagination, I visualize a basket of eggs on my entry table. I can imagine the number ONE floating over the basket. There’s ONE basket of eggs.
2) Next, I can picture a bundle of organic greens laying across the bottom two stairs of my staircase. I can see in my mind’s eye, the number TWO and the greens right there on the staircase.
3) As I step down into my living room and look to the left, I can visualize my favorite Lindt chocolate bar on my couch. In fact, the chocolate bar is so large that it covers all three cushions on the couch. I imagine that the ginormous chocolate bar has a ginormous number THREE floating over it.
4) I look up to the mantel over the fireplace. I see a large number FOUR next to a birthday card that’s tied to a bunch of birthday balloons. I can choose specific colors for the balloons, the number, and the card to make the image even more vivid.
5) Last, I picture a large number FIVE floating over the fat, comfy chair. I’m seated in that chair with my feet soaking in a warm tub of water with Epsom salts. I can wiggle my FIVE toes in the water and enjoy the relaxation brought on by the comforts of the chair and the salts.
When I get to the store, I can walk through my familiar path and count, number by number, through the items that I need.
Do you see how simple this is?
In summary, make a mental picture of each item you wish to remember, and pair the item to a familiar place. I chose the entry of my home, but could have just as easily chosen a familiar path I walk when I exercise, or a route taken to work. Any familiar path or pattern will do.
In practice, it’s actually easier than illustrated here. Keep in mind that the above description is a bit wordy because it was necessary for me to detail BOTH the items and the path. For your own purposes, the path is already familiar, so you just need to add in the items as you go.
Quick and easy!
Need to run to the store to pick up a few things? Don’t forget to remember!
Have you ever tried this memory trick before? Have you tried it with remembering other lists such as names, recipe ingredients, or something else? What helped you the most? Please share your favorite memory tricks and tips below!
Thanks, Sue, for your great visualization strategy. Will definitely give it a try! At the height of my fibro I forgot everything!
You’re so very welcome, Janet! I know what it’s like to go through phases where a good memory seems like … well, a distant memory!
You forgot the toothpaste!:)
How funny! I did think of that, but decided to make the exercise about FIVE items. I should have mentioned it though, shouldn’t I? Thanks for the smile 😉
Lol you forgot the toothpaste
Good way to remember things. I will have to give it a try
Thanks for another little gem!
I enjoy receiving your emails and reading your blogs.
Having fibro, Coeliacs and depression life presents a fair few challenges and you’ve provided helpful information and inspiration along the way.
I’d quite like to indulge in your chocolate on your couch !! ?. I’ll buy the toothpaste.
Thanks again..Keep well.
Dawn – you’re so very welcome! You’re welcome to join me on my couch anytime — chocolate is always here 😉 And, I’m so glad YOU’LL remember the toothpaste!
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