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As a nurse, you’ll be called upon to remember a number of things. Juggling responsibilities can be difficult, and it’s helpful to use strategies to improve your memory, so remembering the small details at work is not as difficult. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help improve your memory, including focusing your attention to dramatically change your recall.
Interestingly your attention is one of the major components to memory. Unfortunately, as you are highly active and may be distracted, this affects your short-term and long-term memory. In the nursing profession, distractions are the name of the game, and it may be challenging to focus your attention past the alarm bells, the patient requests, and the physician’s orders. One way to practice focusing your attention is to repeat or paraphrase what someone may have said to you in order to remember it. This forces your brain to focus and make new neural connections. For instance, while meeting a new patient or a patient’s family, repeat their name once or twice during the conversation. If you are thinking about something else while someone is presenting information, it will be difficult to recall it later. Learning to focus your attention takes practice.
There are a number of apps and websites that help you create new neural connections in different ways. Crossword puzzles, word find problems and other types of games help the brain make new connections. Take a different route when you do your morning run or your bicycle ride, which helps those same connections to become stronger. It’s important to use your brain as much as possible in a variety of ways in order to enhance your memory.
Another mental activity to help improve your recall is too mentally imagine what is being said. Sometimes, your brain cannot tell the difference between what you imagined and what is real, as it activates regions in the brain essential for recall. Mental rehearsal has been shown to measurably improve performance in many tasks, including athletic performance. One method of visualization is the method of loci, or a Memory Palace. This involves visualization with the use of spatial memory in order to quickly and efficiently recall information. Some call it a memory journal or Mind Palace technique that was adopted in ancient Rome. The method relies on memorized spatial relationships to recall content and improves with use.
Believe it or not, your memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain and improves when you take care of it. In other words, your memory will actually improve when you get 30 minutes of physical exercise every day, 8 hours of quality sleep, reduce your stress level and eat a well-balanced and nutritional diet. These steps to improve your overall health will also improve the health of your brain and your memory.
While exercising your body is important, experts also recommend training your brain using real-world activities. You may test your recall by making a list and memorizing it. After an hour, go back to see how many items you can recall. Start by making a list of five items and expand as you get better. Make the items more challenging for the greatest mental stimulation. Learning how to play a
musical instrument or joining a choir is ideal as it engages your brain in something new and helps you to learn new concepts over a long period of time. Try doing math in your head without the aid of a pencil, paper or computer. As you get better, make it more difficult by walking at the same time, engaging even more of your brain. After visiting a new place, try drawing a map from memory. Take up a new hobby that involves fine motor skills such as drawing, assembling a puzzle, painting or knitting. Play a math game such as Add 3 Minus 7. To get started, choose any 3 digit number, add 3 and subtract 7 from the new number, seven times.
At the end of the day, the best things you can do will help you solve real-world problems like forgetting important details. Being able to focus, memorize and recall are simple ways of improving your memory and improving your skills.
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