Racing thoughts. A pounding heart. The feeling of worry and fear. That’s anxiety. It’s something many of you may have felt before, but for some of you it’s a constant battle that has only intensified this past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Constantly feeling anxious can lead to memory loss. A few different factors play a part, like:

Elevated cortisol levels – cortisol earns the nickname of the stress hormone as it helps kick your body into fight flight or freeze mode. It serves multiple functions, and too much of it can leave you constantly in that response.

Lack of sleep – we all know we need enough restful sleep each night for a variety of different benefits for our bodies, and regular sleep deprivation can result in serious health consequences including memory loss.

The habit of pushing back unwanted memories – sometimes blocking trauma can be a way to cope, but it doesn’t address the source of the problem, if some of your anxieties and traumas aren’t resolved, that could lead to memory loss over time.

When it comes to coping, unfortunately, changes won’t happen overnight, but you can try multiple different things to boost your concentration and recall in the meantime.

Write things down – you’re more likely to remember things when you write them down, and journaling how you’re feeling every day may help relieve some anxiety.

Train your brain – play some memory and brain games like crosswords with loved ones, or even try picking up an old musical instrument or challenging yourself to learn a new skill.

Make time to exercise – give yourself even just 5 or 10 minutes every day to move your body, exercise can help tire you out, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Reaching out for support through professional help is always a big step to make – but you may find that it may be right for you. Amanda McIntosh with Four Rivers Behavioral Health tells me finding your form of self-care doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be simple.

“I actually believe that music is medicine,” McIntosh said. “I love music and I love to listen to music and I love to sing and so I think that is great. I also love art I think it’s good for people to utilize her creative side it really helps to be able to calm down and relax.”

Don’t forget to connect with your loved ones, everyone needs to know they have your support during these difficult times.