Write at twilight to keep a stronger hold on your memories

You'll have easier access to your memories if you record them in a journal in the evening (pic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/blackzheep)

You’ll have easier access to your memories if you record them in a journal in the evening (pic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/blackzheep)

Do you like to write your diary in the evening, reflecting on the day’s events, and capturing your thoughts and feelings about what’s happened to you? Or are you into morning journaling, wanting to share your thoughts with the page before you go about your day? Well, a study shows that people who write down autobiographical memories at night are more likely to remember them a month down the line than people who scribble down their life events when they wake up.

A diary after dinner: how the time of event recording influences later accessibility of diary events is a piece of research, published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, that looks at the best time of day for recording events to enable them to be remembered at a later time. “Improvements in long-term accessibility” of memories recorded in a diary were greater at night than in the morning. “Participants [in the study] who recorded their memories in the evening before sleep had best memory performance,” according to the research findings. The study explained this as memories becoming more consolidated during sleep, whereas other interference and distractions during the day could affect this process for people who journal in the mornings.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of this quote by Norbet Platt: “The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought. This in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.” So putting pen to paper at night helps embed those thoughts even more deeply.

Creating happy memories can boost depressed people’s mood

anima phonebox

Scientists say that associating a positive memory with an everyday object, like a phonebox, can be mood boosting.

When you’re in the grip of depression, it can be difficult to recall anything positive from the past or feel any optimism for the future. But scientists have tested a method of creating positive memories which have some evidence of boosting the mood of people who feel depressed.

The positive memory strategy is called Method-of-Loci (a way of linking something you need to remember with a location you know well)  and it was tested by researchers the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge (UK). The report of their findings was published in the Clinical Psychological Findings journal.

In tests, they asked people with depression to come up with 15 positive memories and then to associate those memories with a positive feeling or everyday object, such as a phone box or the front of their house. The outcome was that this technique of association was more effective in recalling happier memories, which could help alleviate depressive symptoms.

The scientists conclude: “Depression impairs the ability to retrieve positive, self-affirming autobiographical memories. Our study shows that richly elaborated or self-affirming memories in those with a history of depression can have a self-reported beneficial effect on mood.”