How to improve memory: just 10 minutes of mindfulness could help us to remember more information

Posted by
Lauren Geall
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Do you find yourself constantly forgetting important information, especially at work? New research has found that spending just 10 minutes practising mindfulness could help to solve that problem, giving your career a potential boost.

Although we may not realise it, our ability to recall – and retain – key information is an important part of our everyday lives. While there are specific note taking techniques and organisation systems that can help us to stay on top of everything we have to do, sometimes we have to rely on our memory to get us through – and that’s where forgetfulness becomes a problem.

The fact of the matter is that some of us have worse memories than others. When forgetting key information can get in the way of our productivity and career progress, however, improving our memory recall becomes incredibly important.

So how can we do that? According to a new study by psychology researchers from Ball State University, the answer could lie in the practice of mindfulness.

The study, which was published in the journal Memory & Cognition, found that practicing just 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation before engaging in a verbally based learning session could help us to retain more information. 

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As part of the research, the team of psychologists took 142 participants and divided them into two groups, before providing one of the groups with a mindfulness exercise. When they orally taught the participants new words, they found that the group who had taken part in the mindfulness exercise remembered a lot more of the material than those who didn’t.

Although it’s not exactly clear how mindfulness helps to improve memory, the researchers posited that the practice helps to quiet down thoughts, therefore making it easier to absorb new information. 

Woman practising mindfulness at work.
The benefits of mindfulness as a workplace tool are widespread.

“The fact that mindfulness can help with [memory] after only 10 minutes is an important finding that people can use in their everyday lives when they know they will need to rely on these abilities,” Adam Lueke, one of the study’s authors, told PsyPost. “Big test coming up? Got a presentation for work? Know you’ll be meeting new people and want to remember things about them in order to make a connection? Then perhaps spending a little time to meditate beforehand can help you accomplish your goals.”

And helping us to remember more isn’t the only benefit that mindfulness can offer – in fact, studies have proven the practise boasts a whole load of benefits. From helping us to make fewer mistakes and improving our relationship satisfaction to helping us to rationalise our fears and even making us feel less tired, mindfulness really is the gift that keeps on giving. 

The benefits of mindfulness as a workplace tool are also widespread – not only does the practice help us to remember more information, but it has been proven to enhance our overall wellbeing and help us to deal with frustration and stress.

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Defined as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us,” practising mindfulness could be as simple as focusing on our bodily sensations.

Exercises like this mindful breathing video from Every Mind Matters are also a great way to practise mindfulness and work on being fully present. 

The most important thing to remember when it comes to mindfulness is that the practise is all about observing the present moment as it is, not completely quieting the mind or achieving a state of complete focus. It’s okay if your mind wanders or judgements arise – just take a note of them, and then let them pass.

“Our minds often get carried away in thought,” Grace Bullock writes for Mindful. “That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.”

So next time you feel stressed or worried about remembering a big project or presentation at work, take some time to be present and refocus your mind on your surroundings. Not only will practicing mindfulness help you to remember all the information you need to do a good job, but the meditation itself will help you feel a lot less stressed, and that’s never a bad thing. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

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