Worried you won’t remember past events? You’re not alone! As we age, our memories get a little fuzzy. Think of your brain like a storage unit. It absorbs copious amounts of data every day and catalogues it depending on the type of memory – sensory, short-term or long-term.
1. Let your senses evoke emotion
If you have or think you will have a strong emotional reaction to a sight, sound, taste or smell, revisit it and see what happens. Cook a meal your mum used to make when you were a child or play a song you loved when you were a teenager.
When you feel an emotion, instead of feeling the feeling and moving on, sit with it and write down your memories. You’ll be surprised at what comes up.
2. Map out the major events in your life
You can make your own memory cues with this simple exercise.
- Get a big piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.
- Write down your ages in five-year increments – 0-5 years, 5-10 years and so on. Leave enough space to write notes on either side.
- Now for each five-year increment, write down the big events you remember, e.g. starting high school. Make note of any episodic memories that come up.
- Write down the most meaningful events and try and fill in the details. These will inspire you with stories to tell.
3. Connect with an old friend or family member
Conversations about the “old times” almost always leads to memory retrieval. Much like talk therapy, talking about your memories helps you refine ones you do remember, and remember ones you don’t.
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