Full disclosure: we were about halfway through writing this article about memory lapses when we remembered we’d already covered the subject – oh, THE IRONY. Granted it was back in issue five, but still… The thing is, these frustrating lapses are happening to more of us more often these days, memory experts say, and you can blame the stresses of the past two years for the increase in our short instances of forgetfulness.
Research has shown that people who experienced recent life stressors have impaired memory. Stress negatively affects our attention span and sleep, which also impact memory. And chronic stress can damage the brain, causing further memory problems.
Social media is to blame too. (Well, of course it is.) So much information is cluttering our brains these days, that it’s never been harder to concentrate or focus. Particularly as we scroll on our phones, while simultaneously watching TV and having a conversation with someone. Is it any wonder we’re unable to encode any memories in the first place?
We know that memory declines with age, but medical science isn’t clear exactly when. Some studies show that memory ability peaks in people’s 20s and gradually declines from there; others suggest the sharpest decline starts around age 60. It’s worth nothing, if you’re worried about your memory, you should see your doctor, especially if other people notice it too.
Here’s what experts recommend for boosting your memory.
Don’t force it
Forcing yourself to try to remember something doesn’t work – in fact, it can be counterproductive. You’ll become frustrated, and that frustration allows the emotional part of your brain to override the parts of your brain that retrieve memories. Instead, forget about it (which should be real easy 😂), take some deep breaths to calm your brain and try again later.
Here’s an idea: instead of doing 20 things at once, try doing one thing at a time. Not only does multitasking make it all the harder to remember things, it actually lowers your IQ, and reduces efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Pay attention to small tasks you typically do on autopilot, such as making a cup of tea in the morning.
Give your full attention to people when you talk with them. Not only is it polite, but according to research, present-moment awareness may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. When you focus on the present moment, you’re paying attention to the things currently happening. Remember where you read that little nugget, yeah?
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