"I can't remember ... " or "I forgot ..." They're two phrases we seem to say often, and the moments of forgetfulness can be alarming as we get older -- are we "losing it"? Is this early Alzheimer's onset? It's different for every person, of course, and in today's always-on-the-go world it's understandable that the brain can get a bit overstuffed with information. But assuming you've ruled out illness as a source of your memory problems, the first thing you could try to do that might help is to reduce your stress level. Here are some tips that may do the trick:
- Come up with a plan to eliminate unnecessary stress. (In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter if the cap is off the toothpaste?)
- For things you can't eliminate -- your daily commute, for example -- learn how to alter your reaction when the traffic jams up or you get cut off.
- If you have too many commitments and responsibilities, reassess them and determine which ones are really important to you and which could be scaled back.
- Give yourself a break from endless chores: The world won't end if you skip laundry for a day.
- Schedule time for yourself. Take a walk, spend time on a hobby, take a bubble bath or just do something else you enjoy.
- Consider biofeedback, yoga, meditation or other popular relaxation techniques.
Doing such things could go a long way toward making you feel calm and de-stressed, which is likely to help your memory. And, now that you're relaxed and ready to remember things, you'll be encouraged to know that memory might not be the inevitable deterioration with age that we're used to fearing. The Albert Einstein College of Medicine conducted a study that showed that playing challenging mental games such as chess can decrease by about 74 percent the chances of developing dementia. Essentially, science views the brain as a muscle that needs to be worked out regularly, lest it deteriorate. The brain is able to remake itself if exercised, as researchers found in 2004, when they learned that juggling -- yes, juggling -- for 15 minutes per day for three months showed a marked increase in grey matter. But, before you run out to start your three-month juggling cram session, just be aware it doesn't work quite like that. As we noted, it seems the brain needs to be regularly stimulated: The study also showed that the brain's grey-matter boost waned once the juggling exercises ceased, like a once-toned muscle gone flabby [source: Fox News].
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