Short Term Memory Loss Can be caused by a number of different conditions, You may be among an increasing number of adults who report difficulties in remembering ordinary things: where you put you keys, your glasses, the name of someone you met last week or an important list, report or meeting. There can be a number of causes.
But be assured. There are a number of practical things you can do to improve and even revers Short Term Memory Loss. Do not panic. If you find the CAUSE of your problem in remembering, there are a number of things that you can do to improve your situation.
This article about Short Term Memory Loss deals with one of the causes: an overabundance of a hormone called cortisol.
The Cortisol connection and Short Term Memory Loss
Cortisol is sometimes called the 'stress hormone'. It is produced in your adrenal glands in response to stress. Cortisol makes the 'fight/flight' response possible. As such it is very important since it makes it possible for us to react quickly and with great energy in times of danger.
Cortisol is a very powerful substance. And although it can be really helpful if a run away truck is bearing down on you, too much Cortisol can have many negative effects on your body. Studies show that too much cortisol is not good for your cardiovascular health or your ability to build and retain strong bones. It can affect diabetes AND it has negative consequences for mental acuity [sharpness] AND your memory.
In recent years the negative effects of Cortisol on mind and memory have become so widespread that many 40 and 50 years old's are going to their health care providers because 'they are losing their memory'. They forget where they put keys and their wallets. They can not remember a week's appointments without writing them down. They do not remember what they said last week or last month. Some even forget birthdays of those they care about.
Such memory difficulties have become so common that neurologists have developed a special name for them, "Mid-life memory impairment". This mid-life memory impairment is not normal any more than Osteopenia before the age of 79 is normal. And these negative effects of too much Cortisol are becoming prevalent among elders too.
So what is going on? How and why did excess Cortisol become such a problem? It is related to daily stress. Stress and Short Term Memory Loss. Now you may be thinking, Stress? Not me, no way. I am not stressed - especially since I retired.
But wait. Let me explain. The brain experiences every sensory input - every sound, every color, every flash of light. When there are many of these, the brain/nervous system feels on overload. It is stressed.
As human beings we are wired for the world in which our species appeared. Noticing inputs by our brains and nervous system was important. Any sound could be a predator coming though the trees. A flash could indicate a reptile about to strike.
If you have ever walked through a dangerous part of town at night or spent time doing an army patrol during warfare, you know how important it is that we do register each sight and sound. But contemporary life has millions of such inputs every single day.
As a result your nervous system is increasingly on 'overload'. You have too much Cortisol production and it is not getting sopped up through defensive action of 'fight' or flight'. All that free flowing Cortisol it is destroying cells, brain cells.
Just think of how much more stimuli you experience than your parents or grandparents did a hundred years ago. There were no electric lights, no flashing neon signs, no radio, no TV, no telephone and although a run away horse might come at you at 40 miles an hour, you were not moving in the midst of 60 mile per hour vehicles every week or everyday. Sirens, Ipods, Cell phones, background music, talk radio --- the sensory input is interminable....and often loud. As a result our bodies are producing lots of Cortisol and it is destroying brain cells . . .and health.
Of course many people try to address this daily stress. They walk, jog, work out. But if you go to the gym, they have music blasting - creating more extreme sensory input. Working out in silence has become so foreign that directors of health clubs and gyms are astounded at a request to shut the music off.
Now, so much for background. I could quote study after study or give example after example,of the effect of too much Cortisol on Short Term Memory Loss but I assume that you get the point. I do want to say, however, that if you are concerned about Short Term Memory Loss and are not addressing the issue of too much Cortisol, you are making it very difficult for yourself. In fact, if excess cortisol is coursing through your system could be undoing some of the good things you are doing to preserve your mind and memory.
What can you do to reduce your stress? You need to create a stimuli reduction program if you want to reduce the Short Term Memory Loss caused by stress. Here are some suggestions:
1. Shut off the radio. If you commute, start by keeping it off for at least the first 15 minutes of your drive.
2. At home do not have radio or TV as 'ambient background noise'. It would be good to ration you TV exposure - in part because there is so much visual interruption by ads or changing camera views. Why not decide on 3 or 6 hours a week at most. If all of that is going to be for Sunday football, so be it. If you are watching Soaps, make some choices. And do you really need 2 hours of news and weather each night? Take care of yourself. Limit your stimuli.
3. If you already limit your radio and TV, try to think of other ways to limit you sensory input each day. Can you take a few minutes to close your eyes and relax? Can you build in more walking into your day? All these things will help your Short Term Memory Loss.
4. Sing. Singing is stress reducing. I mean out loud, belt-it-out singing. Patriotic songs, folk songs, hymns, children's songs. Start the day by singing Happy Birthday. it is easy, melodic and somewhere in the world there is probably someone with a birthday who has no one to sign to them. Sing to the sky, the trees, the road. If you hop in your car and sing for 15 minutes you will feel refreshed - if for no other reason than you have increased your Oxygen intake.
5. Start a new hobby. I know a longshoreman who knits. He says it is relaxing and helps the arthritis in his hands. Embroidery or make modeling planes or building Legos takes just enough attention to allow the rest of us to relax. You will find something.
Here is a practice from Tibet that can be very helpful. At night, before sleep go back in memory through your day. Start with whatever you did just before NOW. Example, I slipped off my slippers....and before that I walked to the bedroom from the bathroom...in the bathroom I brushed my teeth .......and so on.
If you do this regularly you will eventually be able to go back in memory through your whole day to the moment you awoke in the morning. Voila! Better memory in the making. HINT: you will find it easier is you 'see' what you did instead of just trying to 'name' it.
Tai Chi has a long list of health benefits, including stress reduction. Even just a few minutes each day wiill help. See: Tai chi for better health and less Stress Read more about Memory and Short Term Memory Loss
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