January 19th, 2011 at 3:12 am
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Memory fitness plan: Create a better balance in your life

by Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

How often do you feel like you are going in a multitude of directions? Day 7 of the memory fitness plan encourages you to take some time to unplug from your to do list and relax. Add to that a slower pace and something that is fun or makes you smile. Are you able to take time off from your regular routine to recharge? Sometimes that is easier said than done.

Did you know that when you are stressed, it is likely that you will be less able to concentrate? Look back on some of the more stressful situations in your life. Most people report a decreased ability to stay focused and more difficulty remembering. I find this a frequent complaint of caregivers. Refer the article and blogs on Caregiver Stress and its Impact on Memory for more details. In the midst of the chaos on a particular day, it may be helpful to already have in mind a few things that might help you to get your balance back, if only for a short time. Sometimes those periodic breaks can keep the stress from building up like a pressure cooker. Here are a few things that can help to reduce your stress hormones.

Meditation: Many people say they have trouble meditating because, when they try, thoughts keep coming into their mind. Find an activity that stops the tape in your head. Some people find things like playing with a pet, doing yard work, working on a craft or hobby as a way to shift focus for a short period of time at least. When you are stressed try and include time for one of those options. For me, music or a guided meditation work much better than a silent meditation. Both of those can help stop the chatter in my mind that is often non-productive or upsetting.

Exercise: It keeps coming up in current research as a key to successful aging and memory fitness. It also helps to disperse stress hormones so keep moving and make it a regular part of your fitness plan. Through the years I have learned that I need to exercise first thing each morning otherwise I just seem to never find the time unless it is taking a walk with someone after work. What works best for your schedule?

Humor: Do you take yourself too seriously? Humor is a great stress reliever. How many times a day do you laugh? Children laugh many more times a day than an adult. What brings a smile to your face or tickles your funny bone? Put more of that into your life.

During day 7 of your memory fitness plan in the upcoming weeks, you might want to try one of these ideas. Take off your watch for the day. Do not check the clock. Just let the day’s activities evolve. When you are hungry, eat. When tired, just rest. If it is a nice day, take a ride and enjoy the scenery. Do some exploring. Another idea is to do something silly. Get some crayons and a coloring book. Just have fun and hang up your picture. For details on the 7 day program, go to Create a Memory Fitness Plan.

“He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.” Elbert Hubbard

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