No matter how organized you might usually be, memory supports are necessary when we are overwhelmed with life, if we’re on anxiety overdrive, certainly with ADHD or if we are in the midst of life changes. Memory support will calm your racing mind, give you back some control, and help you feel better about your memory (if not yourself!)
#1 Memory Support: Use a list – even if you don’t normally use one.
For example, you’ve just agreed to sit for your grandchild. Or you’ve gone back to work after taking care of your children. Or your child is diagnosed with a medical condition. Or you’re going to school, working and taking care of family and parents.
It can be a matter of pride to not use a list. But do you want your mental energy focusing on the people you’re worried about? Or trying to remember what to pick up at the grocery store? Think of your mental energy being limited just as physical energy is.
- Start a list (or your digital equivalent) and keep it with you, all the time. Your new best friend, even if only for this “season” of big changes.
- Habit: Write down all the small stuff, as well as the big stuff. No matter how small, empty your mind of what rolls around.
- If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done – your new mantra so you can let go. Tell people this!
- Habit: Decide on priorities at least in the morning. Better is the night before and the morning. Best is morning, noon, and later in the day because things do change and you may not remember. If you need to, set reminders or put a note on your bathroom mirror reminding you to “look at my list.”
#2 Memory Support: Use your alarms, reminders, egg timers, Time Timers, calendar.
An audible reminder will pull you out of whatever you’re doing, so that you can move on, switch gears, and be on time.
- Habit: Set them at the beginning of the day …
- or set them as you start something new, doing the math for when you need to stop to move onto the next thing.
- Habit: Use them to “wind down.” Especially with ADHD in the mix, people will use 2-3 reminders to switch gears and get ready for the next thing. For example: 30 minutes ahead (your time is short); 15 minutes (wrap it up now); 5 or 10 minutes (get up and move on).
- Use an appealing alarm sound. Have fun checking out different sounds.
- Habit: If you find yourself dismissing the reminders, you may be setting too many or you may need to change the sound.
- Habit: If you use a calendar reminder, make it very specific, as if you are talking to yourself. Vague is easy to dismiss.
#3 Memory Support: Talk it out-so it’s not rolling around in your mind
- Expressing your feelings helps. Learning new self care and coping skills helps.
- Knock down your resistance and learn to accept what’s happening. Resistance becomes the focus and takes up a lot of mental energy. It’s as if the emotions take up so much space in your mind that there’s no room left to remember things.
- When your mind isn’t racing all the time, you can pay better attention. Your memory will hold more and do a better job for you. No attention=less of a memory gets created.
#4 Memory Support: Self-talk
Yes, talk to yourself to keep yourself focused. If you’re focused, you’re paying attention and attention helps memories register.
- Choose a positive phrase, not berating: “I can do this. I know I can.” “Stay focused. ” “Stay here.” “Stay present.”
- Write it down where you can see it often. Repeat it. Focus>attention:memories register.
We have several types of memory, not only short and long term. This particularly pertains to people who have been diagnosed with ADHD or other executive function challenges. I’ll write more on that separately, but all of these memory supports are a very good start.
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If you’d like to work one-on-one for one call or on a month-to-month basis, please call/text: 603.765.9267 or Sue@CoachSueWest.com. Find out your own, unique solutions. You can also read more about how I work here.