If you find yourself forgetting things more than you used to, it may be yet another result of our unprecedented experiences and great uncertainty during the past couple of years. You may also find it hard to distinguish between details of memories you do have. Having experienced both of those things, I found a recent article on the topic to bring some clarity. The title caught my attention: “Why We’re All Forgetting Things Right Now.” So it’s not just me!
In fact, the article cited several examples of very young people spacing out on things they knew – names of people, perhaps how to do routine things. That was comforting. “Our brains are like computers with so many tabs open right now,” says Sara C. Madnick, a neuroscientist and professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. “This slows down our processing power, and memory is one of the areas that falters.”
That explanation makes a lot of sense to me. Think of all the changes and stress of the past couple of years. Think of the deluge of information we allow to come at us on a regular basis. And now we have a new set of stressors – costs are rising due to multiple global realities including a war. Lots of uncertainty continues along with more “normality” and hope than we’ve had for so long.
The author of the article, Elizabeth Bernstein, shares some recommendations from experts that can boost our memories.
Don’t force it. Forcing yourself to try to remember something is 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, says Jennifer Kilkus, a clinical health psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. Let it go for a bit; take some deep breaths to calm your brain and try again later.
Stop multitasking. It’s tough to recall something, or to commit something to memory in the first place, when you’re doing two things at once, Dr. Kilkus says. So put your phone away. (This will help cut back on information overload, too.) Try doing one thing at a time. Pay attention to small tasks you typically do on autopilot, such as brushing your teeth.
Help your brain calm. This will strengthen your frontal lobe, which is involved in both memory encoding and retrieval, as well as stress regulation, says Dr. Mednick, author of the coming “The Power of the Downstate.” Dr. Mednick recommends daily meditation, yoga, or simply slow deep breathing for at least 10 minutes a day. Take a walk, preferably in nature. Connect with a loved one….And get some sleep. This clears out toxins in your brain that can clog your mental processing, she says.
Be socially present. Give your full attention to people when you talk with them. Doing so will help you better recall what you want to say in the conversation—because your brain won’t be distracted or overtaxed—and remember what was said, says Jeanine Turner, professor of communication at Georgetown University.”
All of these are simple, quite obvious strategies when you are forgetting things more. Here’s another – using sound to reduce stress. https://carolbrusegar.com/the-power-of-sound-to-calm-and-heal/
If you are forgetting things more or things are melding together into a fog, consider making one or more of these recommendations part of your daily life. Which one resonates with you most as a way to address what you are experiencing?
As a way to help you implement your choice(s) over time, take time to journal the situations you face, what strategies you tried and how effective they were. If you don’t use a journal regularly, you can download and print these FREE pages to get started. There are 4 unique pages, each with a mandala to color as well as space to journal.
I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.