Focusing on a stressful day ahead could hurt your memory

A puppy and kitten cuddle. Text reads: Feeling stressed? Reach out to a caring friend.

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed really does have an impact—and on more than your mood. A new study suggests that the wrong morning mindset could affect your memory.

The study revealed that when people woke up anticipating a stressful day, their memory suffered later. And that was true even if what they dreaded never happened.

In the two-week study, 240 adults took repeated memory tests and rated their stress levels. At the study’s end, higher levels of anticipated stress in the morning were associated with poorer working memory later in the day. Working memory is the kind of memory that helps people learn and retain information even when they’re distracted.

This reduced working memory may be particularly concerning for older adults who are already experiencing a cognitive decline, the researchers cautioned.

The study appeared in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

A few ways to destress

So what can you do if you wake up feeling anxious? Try these tension-taming tips from the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Psychological Association:

A black-and-white puppy sleeps in a person's arms. Text reads: Stress-busting tip No. 1: Relax your body.

Relax your body—your mind may follow. Start with one muscle. Hold it tight for a few seconds and then relax. Do this with each of your muscles, beginning with your toes and feet.

A yellow Lab puppy licks the air. Text reads: Stress-busting tip No. 2: Take some deep breaths.

Take some deep breaths. This helps you get plenty of oxygen and activates your body’s relaxation response.

A puppy relaxes in someone's lap. Text reads: Stress-busting tip No. 3: Let go.

Let go. Do your best not to worry about things you can’t control.

A running puppy. Text reads: Stress-busting tip No. 4: Move more.

Move more. Exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals and can help ease stress.

A puppy and kitten cuddle. Text reads: Stress-busting tip No. 5: Reach out.

Reach out. Call a caring friend—or send an email. Sharing your worries with a good listener you trust can help steady you.

A young golden-colored dog sits in the sun. Text reads: Stress-busting tip No. 6: Look on the bright side.

Try to see the bright side. If you can, look at change as a positive challenge—not a threat.

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