Stress can be good for us — it can motivate us to work hard and get things done. But when that stress builds up, it becomes more of an obstacle than a benefit. It can affect how our brain works and even inhibit our ability to make new memories and recall information clearly.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to fight against its negative effects and keep your mind sharp and active. Interested in learning how? Here’s how to retain memory under stress:
When you’re stressed out, taking good care of your body should be your number one priority. In particular, you should pay close attention to what foods you’re eating — after all, they are your body’s main fuel source. Consider adding stress-relieving foods such as adaptogens into your daily meals to help you manage your stress levels.
But what are adaptogens, and how do they help with stress? The simple answer is that they are herbs that help improve your body’s physiological reaction to stressors— boosting your resistance to stress symptoms. These herbs adapt to the effects of stress and soothe and calm your body as needed.
Bacopa Monnieri, also known as water hyssop, is one adaptogen that is popular for its ability to reduce long-term stress and improve mental clarity. You can take this adaptogen as a tea, and sipping this daily will help your body unwind, even on particularly stressful days.
Similar to how your body needs to be kept in shape, your mind also needs some exercise to keep sharp — and overcome stress. So, give your brain something new to do every so often to train it to pay attention.
Picking up new hobbies, reading books, or even just keeping socially active more often should be enough to make your brain pay attention to what’s happening around you. This prevents mental lethargy, which should help you have stronger memory, even when you’re dealing with lots of stress.
When you’re overwhelmed with stress, it can just be too difficult to focus your attention on something important — much less remember critical information when you need it.
Rather than trying to force yourself to remember, it may be more effective to take a step back and calm down. Reducing your stress levels by practicing breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques may just help you get back to the task at hand.
The next time you feel overwhelmed at work, take a minute to breathe. Inhale through your nose for four counts, and exhale for another six. Doing this will help you decrease your stress, improve your mental health, and increase your focus.
Though we don’t often associate exercise with good memory, staying active is key to a healthy, robust brain. This is because regular physical activity helps increase blood flow to your entire body, including your brain — which is crucial for all brain functions, including memory. Physical activity also helps keep your hippocampus healthy, which is the part of the brain that enables you to create and store memories.
Staying active can also help lower your overall stress levels in general. Adding this to your routine can have a positive effect on your mental health by relieving many of the physical symptoms associated with stress, such as tension and muscle aches. It can also help with psychological symptoms, such as sadness, anxiety, and anger by giving you an outlet for your stress.
When you’re swamped with things to do, you may be tempted to just stick your head down and power through your to-do list. But, if you’re overly stressed, then you likely have very little energy and positivity to give to your work — and forcing yourself to do so will just give you more stress in the long run.
Instead, consider what fills your cups, i.e., what activities help you unwind and feel refreshed after a long day of work. Explore what fills up your cups to better cope with stress — otherwise, you may find yourself struggling to remember urgent tasks and information when you need it.
This could be anything from leisure time, binge-watching your favorite shows, taking a walk, being around friends and family, taking a trip, and more. Just make sure it’s something that you enjoy!
When you’re stressed at work, it’s usually because you have so much to do — so pulling all-nighters or working way past office hours might feel like the best thing to do at the moment. After all, once all your tasks are taken care of, you’ll be able to relax, right?
Sadly, the truth is that working more and forgoing rest can prevent you from retaining good memory skills. When you’re lacking rest, you’re more likely to have trouble recalling information, and you might even perform worse.
This is why getting enough rest is important. It helps your brain recover from the stress of the day, and is crucial in converting short-term memories into long-term memories. Getting adequate sleep every night — no matter how busy you are — will help improve your focus and memory recall.
Stress impacts so much of our lives, especially at work. If you’re dealing with a lot of stress, and it’s affecting your performance, then it’s a good time to make some life changes. Use our guide on how to retain memory under stress to better support your brain and help improve your cognitive function and memory recall.