Dealing with Forgetfulness: Improving your memory.

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Have you ever lost your keys? Entered a room and forgot why you were there? Went grocery shopping and missed items you meant to buy? Put something in a safe place and than didn’t remember where the safe place was?

 

We all have. Some more than others will experience it more frequently, some in areas of directions (I’m horrible with directions, get to meet and see a lot of new things when I get lost), people’s names, birthday, etc.

In this day and age when we are constantly hounded by technology, numerous demands put upon us, always being ‘connected’ and available, distraction leads to not being present which can lead to forgetfulness.

Think about the times when you forget something.

Are you rushing out the door, while the phone is ringing, someone asking you a question and your fumbling for your keys, only to realize once you get to work that you forgot to bring in the document you were working on. One of my favorites is when I am at work, thinking of the next 20 things to do on my list, rushing up the stairs and someone will stop me and say, ‘hey can you do….? or schedule a meeting for…’ I mumble an agreement and by the time I reach the top of the stairs I have forgotten the details of what was just said.

Why does this happen? Too many things going on? Our age? An illness? Medication? Lack of sleep? Being distracted? A trauma? There are many reasons that we have memory lost.

Science has been studying this, however it is still in its infancy on how the brain works and how we can train our brain with memory skills and strategies. Some terms for memory loss are ‘brain fog’, ‘chemo brain’ and I’m sure some personal ones you have used.

Common symptoms in memory changes are:

-memory retention

-verbal skills

-attention and concentration

-executive function

-motor function and co-ordination

-spatial skills

-mood and psychological well-being

*taken from Maximum Capacity Inc.

Neuroplasticity and The Brain.

The cognitive function of our brain can change in numerous ways. Studies using MRIs have shown how we use parts of our brain and when our memory is affected, due to a variety of reasons, our brain compensates by using other sections of the brain to store and retrieve information.

What to do

Thankfully we can use skills and strategies to develop and deepen our cognition to improve our memory, task management and increase awareness of when memory lapses occur. Enabling us to use a combination of internal and external strategies to improve our cognitive function and life challenges.

I will be posting new strategies to try, it takes practise and using them at first when the stakes are low, to avoid frustration and than applying them in day to day life.

Question:

When do you experience memory lapses/forgetfulness? Time of day? Location?

Identify when the best and worst times of the day are for you? At night when your tired? At work in the middle of the day? Try writing down when memory lapses occur to look for a pattern.

Psychological well-being: stress, illness, how you feel about yourself, situations your in all will affect your cognitive well being.

2 strategies to use:

1 Being present and mindful. This is used for all of the memory skills and strategies. Being present when remembering something is key.

2. Task Management. Focus on one thing at a time. I know we have a thousand demands on us at all times. However, try this week to say to yourself. ‘Right now I am working on this email. Or I am going grocery shopping’ Once that task is completed move onto the next one. A busy brain will often be overloaded, meaning new information will not be stored in the deeper level of your mind and can be forgotten. Prioritize what has to get done and do that first.

Side note: I have been using and learning new strategies and skills over the past few weeks and have noticed an improvement in memory recall. I am forgetful of names, easily distracted, horrible with directions and a long to do list. I have found that if I say to myself ‘ok right now I am working on this report only’ it does help me to reduce stress and complete the task so I can move onto the next one. It is something to work on actively, every day to be able to have the skill go into your long term memory. However it is worth it. You know the saying, ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’

Let me know what your memory challenge is and if the first two strategies helped at all.

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