7 Surprising Signs You're Way Too Stressed
Hormones released during an acutely stressful experience (like being in a car accident) can suppress short-term memory. Fortunately, these effects are usually temporary. But chronic stress can produce similar, longer-lasting impairments by altering the structure of nerve cells and their connections with the brain, explains Bruce McEwen, PhD, head of the neuro-endocrinology lab at Rockefeller University in New York City and author of The End of Stress As We Know It (Dana Press, 2004). These changes, which eventually reverse once the stress subsides, can lead to glitches with recalling names or directions, among other things.
Nix It: Use lists, calendars, and organizers, and place them in strategic, accessible places. "Research has found that for reminders to be effective, they have to be available in the moment you'll carry out the action," says Daniel L. Schacter, PhD, a professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of The Seven Sins of Memory (Houghton Mifflin, 2002). For example, to make certain you make an important phone call, post a note directly on the phone. To learn new information when you're under stress, focus on what you most need to recall, write it down, and link it to what's already in your memory. For example, say your new neighbor Elizabeth Baker asks you to collect her mail while she's on vacation: To remember her name and the association, work it into your conversation with her, then visualize her making cookies with all the other Elizabeths you know, packing the baked goods in a tin and mailing them.
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