Forgetfulness is common as we age due to changes in the brain. Decreased blood flow and fewer hormones and proteins used to repair brain cells and advance neural growth is very common in older individuals. While there are many tricks and best practices older people can use to improve cognitive skills, some of it is out of their control.
But what if you are a younger person who struggles with memory problems? Maybe you’ve been called absent-minded or a “space cadet”. You forget your keys and your purse, or constantly seem to lose things. You may have a great long-term memory, but struggle to remember things that happened just a few minutes ago. Is there something wrong with you? Or is absent-mindedness something that can be fixed? Here is what we know.
What Causes Absent-Mindedness and Memory Problems?
There are many different mental health issues and personality traits that cause a person to become absent-minded. Psychologists believe the primary causes are a low level of attention, which may be a form of ADHD. This occurs when a person zones out in the present moment and fails to listen or understand what is going on in that moment. Many children tend to do this if they are bored in class. Adults also do this when they are tired or under stress, or if they are disorganized.
People may also be hyper-focused on a single object. This makes them unaware of other things going on at that moment. For example, the individual may be thinking about a problem at work, which causes him to forget where he is when driving. This also occurs when individuals are under stress, or if they are suffering from ADHD.
Finally, absent-mindedness may be caused by irrelevant thoughts that we have. A person may be focused on what he/she read in the news or an upcoming event while putting his keys down. Later, he cannot find his keys because he was not paying attention during that moment. Instead, he was focused on the news, his daughter’s birthday party, and other thoughts.
Absent-mindedness can also be correlated to those with schizoid personality disorders, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Most individuals who are absent-minded are not unintelligent. They usually have high IQs, are highly creative, and tend to be on the intellectual side. They may be well-read, emotionally intelligent, and have a particular skillset. Their brains are just “on-go” at all times. They have a difficult time slowing down.
Tips to Improve Absent-Mindedness
Absent-mindedness can hurt our productivity, self-confidence, and relationships. It can be frustrating to constantly lose things, forget what people said, or scramble to catch up later. Thankfully, there are some best practices you can put in place right now to become more organized and improve your memory. Here are some top tips:
· Put Everything Back in the Same Place: Make a concerted effort to put everything back where it belongs. Create a new routine and develop new habits. It will be hard, but it’s entirely possible with the right mindset.
· Make Lists: Don’t count on your memory for everything. Write down lists of things to do or goals to meet. Cross them off as you go along.
· Set Alarms: Set an alarm for each item on your to-do list so you remember when to start the next one. This will also help to jog your memory if you accidentally forget something.
· Slow Down and Delegate: Feeling overwhelmed is often a result of doing too much. Pick and choose which activities you will do and learn how to say no. Delegate if possible to avoid burnout.
· Don’t Multi-Task: Multitasking is not as great as everyone thinks it is. Doing one thing at a time is much more effective. And your quality of work will improve too.
· Meditate and Lower Anxiety Levels: Absentmindedness can be a result of high levels of stress. Find ways to minimize stress and take breaks. Meditation is also a must. This will help you get back to the present moment.
· Seek Help: Find a therapist or life coach who can help you organize your life. See if any underlying mental health issues are contributing to your absent-mindedness.
Are you absentminded? Do you constantly feel overwhelmed or like you are suffering from a poor memory? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.