How many times have you put off reading until the very last minute and had to resort to drastic measures to cram a few lines? This incident is familiar to us all, and we have all done crazy things to make up for the lost time. Unfortunately, only a few of the drastic measures have significant results.
What if stress-free methods, lifestyle changes, and supplements can help you assimilate faster and remember things easily? These are not just run-of-the-mill methods. They are evidence-based and backed by months of rigorous research. Here are three proven methods that can help you learn faster while also helping you store information for a longer period.
Active Learning Methods
According to research, there are two learning methods. Passive learning involves reading and re-reading, listening, highlighting or underlying text, and rote memorization. Active learning demands that the learner be more involved in the learning process, and scientists have proven that it is more rewarding. Active learning involves activities such as:
- Summarizing something that has been read.
- Writing down the main points in your own words.
- Explaining what has been read to others.
- Drawing related diagrams and charts.
- Setting and answering questions from what has been read.
Research shows that active learning methods make assimilation faster, easier, and help recall than passive learning methods. A 2019 Harvard study compared the performance of students who used passive learning methods and those who worked together in small groups to solve problems.
Picture mnemonics involves associating a topic with an image to create stronger memories that make it easy to recall such a topic. It is easier for our mind to focus on images than lines in a book. When we associate something we have read with an image, recalling the image will make it easy to recall the information you have associated with it. Useful tips include:
- Use a silly image. They are easier to remember.
- Make the objects in your image move, like characters in a movie.
- Go all out with details.
- Use positive images.
Spaced repetition involves repeatedly viewing and digesting a topic or text at regular intervals over a period. This method seeks to help you learn faster by spacing out reading time, thereby giving the brain enough time to assimilate.
A popular method of spaced repetition is the use of flashcards. Using the Leitner system, you can group flashcards into categories based on how well you know the information on the cards. You spend more time on the difficult cards and less time on the easy ones.
To make this easier, you can use online resources such as AnkiApp and Brainscape to access millions of flashcards or customize yours.
While study methods certainly help, it’s equally important to keep your brain strong in order to perform at your best. Here are some ways to upgrade your brain:
A 2014 study shows that one hour of aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, running, and dancing, twice a week, increases the hippocampus’s size, the organ that aids learning and memory.
Anti-inflammatory, high-nutrient meals can also improve cognitive functions for a stronger mind and faster recollection process. The brain is 60% fat. It needs essential fatty acids (EFAs), especially omega-3 fatty acids, to stay healthy. In a study, older participants had improved memories after taking 2,200 mg of the substance. Another study shows younger people may have enhanced memories by taking omega-3 supplements.
Polyphenols, antioxidant-rich plant compounds, and choline are other nutrients that can enhance mental and cognitive activities.
Sleep and Meditation
Getting adequate sleep, around 7 hours for adults and longer for children, and meditation can also help brain function. The body clears out waste and harmful proteins from the brain during sleep, allowing you to wake up refreshed and alert. Meditation also has many benefits, including improved focus and protection against age-related mental decline.
Calm and Headspace are great meditation apps for beginners and experts.
Any substance that enhances cognitive health and increases mental performance can be referred to as a nootropic. Some supplements that can help build up your brain resiliency over time include;
- Vitamin B12: a deficiency of this substance may cause poor memory and learning disabilities. Supplements of 2.4mg daily can help you avoid a deficiency.
- Bacopa monnieri: This Ayurvedic herb has been linked to enhanced communication amongst brain cells, resulting in better memory.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Daily intake of 1,000-2,000 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can improve brain health.
- Ginkgo biloba: studies show that 120-240 mg of this native Chinese herb taken daily may enhance memory.
- Oroxylin: this flavonoid elevates the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in the hippocampus, resulting in increased memory.