Tuesday, 18 December 2018

How to Help Retain Important Memories

A boy looking thrilled to have caught a small fish while ice fishing. I have never been very good at remembering things. My short term memory is diabolical, I don't just forget to do something, I can forget I even agreed to do it in the first place! I try all the usual tricks to help me remember, such as writing things down, but then I have to remember to look at what I wrote. It's a work in progress. What bothers me more, though, is my long term memory. I hate not being able to remember things we've done as a family, or details about my children's earlier years. Recently, I've been looking at ways to help me retain important memories and I thought I would share them with you.

This is a sponsored post

I don't know how common it is to struggle with long term memory. It's not something people really talk about, but I do know that people vary in the efficiency of their memory in general. If you have ever wanted to get better at retaining important memories, here are some ideas that I use to help me recall the memories which are important to me. 


This is a tricky one, because I try not to encourage clutter, but one or two carefully chosen souvenirs can really keep the memory of a special event alive. Sometimes having a physical item to hold and look at can evoke really strong memories. For example, I have a little candle holder that my son bought me on our last holiday together. It means a lot to me, because when I look at it, I can clearly see his face, full of pride, because he had chosen and paid for it himself as a surprise. This makes me so happy and when he's really grumpy, it reminds me that he's sweet most of the time! Objects that hold onto memories can work in a negative way too. It's a good idea not to hang on to things that remind you of a bad time in your life, or people that you have unhappy memories of. You don't have to throw them away, if they are valuable, or you are not ready to let go, but you can put them out of sight somewhere, so you are not reminded of anything that is going to cause you unhappiness.

Diaries or Blogging

This is the very reason why I started blogging. I've been writing this blog for over six years and I love looking back on all the things we've done during that time. It's lovely to have a diary of our adventures to remember them by and especially great if you don't can't always recall everything, like me. If you are not keen to have your life online, you can write your own private diary, either on your computer, or using a good, old-fashioned notebook. Who doesn't love the feeling of cracking open a brand new notebook? Another idea, that is really fun for children and I used to do when my daughter was small, is starting a scrapbook. This doesn't have to be all fancy and arty, like the ones hobby scrapbookers produce, it can just be a collection of souvenirs from a day trip or holiday. When my daughter was small, we used to make a scrapbook every holiday, filled with items that reminded us of things we'd done, such as feathers from a bird park, or shells from the beach. It was a good way to pass the time in the evenings and make the holiday seem even more special.


These days. people are taking more photographs and videos than ever before, but how often do we actually look through them? In the old days, it wasn't unusual to spend a Sunday afternoon leafing through huge photo albums as a family, which would trigger conversations and reminiscences of good times together. In recent years, we've begun taking so many photos, that we've lost the value of using them as a way of making memories. There are too many to look through, so we upload them to social media, send them to a friend, and then forget about them. If you want to make more of your captured moments, make a habit of going through them once a month, deleting all the doubles, the rubbish ones, the embarrassing selfies, etc, and put just the ones you love in a folder labelled for that month. At the end of the year, you can put them altogether in a folder for the year, and you have a giant chronological photo album to look back on. Or, better still, print some out now and again. It's becoming less common to have photos in frames around the house, but I think this is important, so that when we're feeling a bit down, we've got reminders that life isn't always gloomy or sad.

A professional looking camera being held out by a female who is blurred in the background


It's amazing how evocative smells can be. Many people can cite the smell of a specific meal as being a reminder of home and you can buy candles that are infused with aromas designed to remind you of a specific season, such as pine needles or mulled wine, to make you think of Christmas. Personally, whenever I smell that hot Tarmac smell that you get when the weather is particularly warm in the summer, I am immediately transported to my childhood and playing in the street with the other children. Cut grass always makes me think of sports day at school. Oh, how I hated sports day! I think smells are one of the strongest memory enhancers there are, as you can actually be transported to another time and place in your head, simply by smelling the same smell. For instance, who isn't reminded of school dinners when they smell boiled cabbage? Yuck! 


This goes back to the old photo albums again, but one of the best ways to remember something, is to talk to other people who were there. People remember things differently. Maybe they were looking at it from a different perspective, or perhaps they were older, so had a better understanding. I have a friend who has a much better memory than me and she really helps me remember my school days, since we were at school together. But for the few photos I took, I don't think that time in my life would be much more than a blur, if it weren't for her. She fills in so many blanks and makes me slightly envious that I can't remember things like she can! 


This doesn't have to be complicated, you don't need to burn candles or play special music, it can be just taking a few minutes to give your mind a chance to go to the place where your memories are. We can't really complain about not remembering things, if we don't give our brains a chance to access the right file! I sometimes do this just before I go to sleep, when I'm really relaxed. I close my eyes and just spend a few minutes thinking about something I want to remember. Don't chase it, let it come to you, and you may find you remember more than you thought you could. This can also work for lost items such as car keys, or your phone. Give yourself time (unless you're late for work, in which case, obviously panic!) to let yourself remember in a relaxed state, where you last had the item and it might just come to you. It doesn't always work, but it's worth a try. 



  1. We have got 2 small memory boxes for special things, but I agree that scent is a huge memory cue.

  2. Great ideas here. Music, videos and pictures help me retain memories.

  3. I love taking lots of photos and video to remember places. I looking back at my blog and instagram to remember all the things we have done!


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