10 Stress Management and Memory Improvement Tips
These days we deal with events and illnesses that gnaw away at us slowly, that stress us out and that, believe it or not, end up hurting our memory and brain. What are the best defenses against stress, that will help our mind and memory remain healthy for life? In this article we list 10 Tips that will help you.
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Our society has changed faster than our genes. Instead of being faced with physical, immediately life-threatening crises that demand instant action, these days we deal with events and illnesses that gnaw away at us slowly, that stress us out and that, believe it or not, end up hurting our memory and brain.
Dr. Robert Sapolsky, in an interview about his book Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, points out that humans uniquely "can get stressed simply with thought, turning on the same stress response as does the zebra." But, the zebra releases the stress hormones through life-preserving action, while we usually just keep muddling along, getting more anxious by the moment.
What is the relationship between stress and memory? We all know chronic stress is bad for our heart, our weight, and our mood, but how about our memory? Interestingly, acute stress can help you focus and remember things more vividly. Chronic stress, on the other hand, reduces your ability to focus and can specifically damage cells in the hippocampus, a brain structure critical to encoding short term memory.
When is stress chronic? When you feel out of control of your life. You may feel irritable or anxious. While every individual varies in their response the type and quantity of stress, there are some things you can do to feel more in control of your environment. This sense of empowerment can lower your stress, and as a result, help your memory.
Yoga, meditation, and visualizations are all excellent ways to learn to manage your stress levels. Reducing stress, and the stress hormones, in your system is critical to your brain and overall fitness.
What are the best defenses against chronic stress, that will help our mind and memory remain healthy for life?
1- Exercise strengthens the body and can reduce the experience of stress, depression, and anxiety. Make sure to do something cardiovascular at least twice a week.
2- Relaxation through meditation, tai chi, yoga, or other techniques to lower blood pressure, slow respiration, slow metabolism, and release muscle tension. Give yourself 10 minutes just to relax every day.
3- Biofeedback programs and games that provide real-time information, allowing you to learn effective techniques for reducing stress levels.
4- Empowerment, because attitudes of personal confidence and control of your environment resolve the stress response. Make sure you appreciate the good things you have and have done, and your support group around you.
5- Social network of friends, family, and even pets help foster trust, support, and relaxation.
6- Use a calendar to schedule important things. Give items a date and a priority.
7- Make a list of things that need to be done. Even if it's a long list, it can be rewarding to cross off items as you complete them.
8- Ask yourself how important something truly is to you. Maybe you're stressing over something that you are better off just letting go.
9- Get enough sleep so that you can recharge your batteries.
10- Eat well and reduce your caffeine and sugar intake which can add to your sense of jitteriness.
Article Tags: Chronic Stress
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alvaro Fernandez is the Co-Founder of SharpBrains, which provides the latest science-based information for Stress Management and Memory Improvement, and has been recognized by Scientific American Mind, CBS, Forbes, and more. Alvaro holds MA in Education and MBA from Stanford University, and teaches The Science of Brain Health at UC-Berkeley Lifelong Learning Institute.