Are you forgetting things more readily these days? Are you stressed? Poor memory and stress go together!
Some of this may seem obvious: when you are stressed, you are focused on the current crisis, and your mind is distracted. You’ve probably noticed that when you get away from stress and relax, your start remembering things you intended to do but didn’t, a name you just couldn’t remember when you were talking to the person, or where you left your phone. We know that the best way to get your brain back in gear at work is often to take a break.
The American Psychological Association studied 6,216 participants and found that not all memory is impaired by stress. Emotional issues related to the stressor are encoded more strongly. Details of the stressor itself were actually encoded better into memory. However, they found that memory retrieval during the stress event was impaired. In other words, the painful details of the stressful event were loaded into memory better, but during stress the participants could not remember normal things as well.
Worry is stress
When we worry, we put ourselves under stress. We constantly tell ourselves that something is wrong, or going to be wrong, and put our minds on a state of alert. We remember well those things that confirm our fears.
A study of Yale and Pennsylvania State Universities found that just five minutes of worry is sufficient to change a person’s mood. Worry elevates cortisol levels, and cortisol is an immune system depressant! Worry is usually unfounded: various research shows that 95% of what we worry about simply never happens.
Since most of what we worry about doesn’t occur, what is the point of worrying? When it comes to memory, worry can cause the very thing you are worried about! How many of us, especially as we age, feel we can’t remember as well? Perhaps we even worry that we will have serious memory loss as we age.
The hippocampus is a vital part of memory. We have many studies that stress causes reduced hippocampus activity. A study from Stanford University showed that people under stress have trouble utilizing the hippocampus, resulting in difficulty retrieving memories. This didn’t mean that they couldn’t remember when relaxed, but the stress temporarily blocked their usage of memory.
How ironic that worrying about loss of memory creates the very stress that causes loss of memory? Even worry about other issues reduces our mental acuity, making normal function that much harder.
The few percent of what we worry about that might actually happen — how much of that could we avoid by worrying over it? And if it is going to happen anyway, how much of our daily lives have we disrupted with worry in the meantime? Prudent concern may spur us to act when we need to, but once we’ve done all we can, those concerns have no more value.
What can we do?
Jesus told us how to do this in saying that tomorrow will “worry about itself”, and “each day has enough trouble of its own”. There is the answer to worry: take care of today. Take prudent steps today and, having done what you can, let the rest go.
Today you can build structure into your life: make health promoting routines.
Today you can take reasonable precautions. If you are worried about “the virus”, then follow the guidelines that minimize the chances of it spreading to you, build up your immune system so it can protect you, and then rest, knowing you’ve done what you can. Remember worry suppresses the immune system, diverting your energy to the imagined emergency that your mind is proclaiming when you worry.
Today you can think on what is good. The mind really only has one channel — it can’t truly focus on two things at once. When you think about one thing, you push out something else. Good thoughts take your mind’s attention when you focus on them.
Today you can look at the opportunities before you. If you can’t do something about that which you are worrying over, what can you do? Perhaps you are stuck at home with unexpected time — what projects have you wanted to do, but didn’t have the time for until now? Stress is a thief that engages you in non-productivity, taking time away that you could have used doing something worthwhile.
This life on earth won’t last forever, but you likely have many tomorrows. They will come with their own troubles, but there is no value in bringing those troubles into today as well. If you leave your worries until tomorrow, you will find that both today and tomorrow are better!
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
One of the biggest blockages of normal immune function is mental and emotional stress. This comes from conscious (you are aware of) and subconscious (you are not aware of) stress programs. One of the major treatments we do at Total Health Institute is brain mapping and therapy called Heart/Brain Entrainment. This releases both types of stress programs. These programs come from your childhood and from your environment growing up. To release these two programs sets the stage to heal every disease from cancer, to autoimmune, to neurological, to cardiovascular, to gastrointestinal, to diabetes, to respiratory, to hormonal — and to most all diseases, because disease comes from inflammation, and inflammation comes from the immune system responding to stress — either physical or mental and emotional. Why am I saying all this? Because it is most likely you already have some type of stress programs in your system. It would not be wise to spend time worrying about what only has a 5% chance of even happening tomorrow. You will just add another stress program into the mix and weaken your health and immune system even more. The answer? Live fully today! This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. If this was your last day on planet earth, would you want to waste it on worrying about tomorrow, or enjoy your family and loved ones today? You choose.