Eight tips for improving your sense of direction
Do you struggle getting from A to B, often ending up at L, O, S and T instead? If so, these tips from neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday should help you get back on track.
1. Plan your route
If you have access to Streetview or photographs, imagine yourself walking the route, visualising the journey. Look at each turning and try to spot unusual landmarks that will jolt your memory when you are making the trip for real.
Try to relax. Anxiety will increase your cognitive load and reduce your natural ability to navigate. The planning you do before the journey should help lessen your anxiety.
Speaking on the phone, texting or even thinking about something else affects your sense of direction. Try to give your full concentration to the task and really focus on your surroundings.
4. Find landmarks
Try to spot a familiar or distinctive landmark and keep it in sight. If you’re in a town or city this might be the tallest building. At every turn, check where you are in relation to this landmark. This will help you build a mental map of the area.
5. Look behind you
Often people focus only on what is in front of them but those who also look back, and notice what’s behind them, are much better navigators. This is a particularly good tip to help you on return journeys.
6. Attach memories to locations
This can be useful when you are retracing your steps. A conversation you were having or a song you were listening to when you first made a journey can provide useful cues at key points on the return, or if you are following the same route again.
7. Take photos
If you are going to need to repeat a journey, take photos at key stages and look at them afterwards. In research, photographs have been found to be more effective than video.
8. Reflect on your journey
Go back over a journey in your mind afterwards, visualising what you did. By doing this you will be firming up the neural pathways in your brain, making them stronger and consolidating your memories.