Stress and memories are related. While a little bit of stress can serve as a good motivator, a lot of stress is more often an obstacle than beneficial. Stress inhibits the way memories are formed and retrieved, and it can even affect how memory works.When we are stressed, it affects how memories are formed, and people have a harder time creating short term memories, and turning those into long term memories. This means that it’s more difficult for us to learn when we are stressed. We may have more difficulty remembering details accurately, as stress colors our perceptions of the event, along with our ability to recall what we perceived at the time.If a stressful event occurred before or during memory encoding, which is the time when memory is formed, then the related stress impacts memory formation. However, if the material you are trying to learn is directly related to the stressors in the event, then memory was shown to have actually improved, not deteriorated. Furthermore, if there was stress post-encoding, then that improved not only memory formation, but memory retrieval as well.How can we improve our memory under stress? Now that we know that it is possible, there are some techniques to improve memory when stressed. These same techniques can also help us manage stress. It may sound cliche, but some of the most important techniques are the simplest ones – get enough sleep, and eat healthy. Practicing personal self care goes a long way toward managing stress. Some other research backed strategies you can use are:
- Breathing Exercises – focusing on the calmness of breath, and the practice of inhaling and exhaling.
- Mental Performance Imagery – which involves vividly imagining practice and success, boosting confidence.
- Listening To Music – music is well known to be therapeutic, and is used in many healing techniques.
- Physical Exercise – get the cobwebs out of your mind.
These easy techniques can help with your memory by not only minimizing your stress levels, but also allowing you to sleep better, thus better managing overall stress and decreasing stress related memory problems.
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