Memory and focus tend to wane as we get older. That’s a known fact. But what a lot of people don’t know is that the same is true when we have suffered from trauma during and after narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
We’ve discussed a number of ways to strengthen your brain health and to try to ward off cognitive decline. Today, I’d like to address one more, and that’s meditation. There are a host of great things you can obtain through this practice. Enhanced brain function is just one of them. Join me as we take a look at the mental benefits of meditating regularly.
Slowed Aging Process
Meditation has been shown to actually alter the connectivity pathways in your brain. The result is the actual slowing of cognitive decline that comes with age. Studies of meditation have resulted in demonstrating that memory loss can be reduced and attention increased in participants who take part in a meditation or mindfulness program.
Meditation causes you to focus your attention in specific ways and to block out distractions from the outside world. Doing so is one way to increase the levels of neurotransmitters and connections in your brain. Ultimately, your mind will be stronger, more alert and better-performing due to this regular practice.
The process of meditating offers you many benefits. One of these is the ability to access long-forgotten memories. The mindfulness and focus attained during meditation give your brain the ability to ignore the outside distractions we’re bombarded with every day. Your mind is then free to go deep into the seldom-used recesses in order to call up memories you may have essentially locked away.
Better Focus and Concentration
Meditation encourages mindfulness, the process of being in the moment. Every day we’re faced with tons of outside stimuli. It can be incredibly difficult to gather our thoughts and to pay attention to any one thing, even if that thing is an important one. Through meditating, the neural pathways are strengthened ways that allow for increased focus. In fact, a concept known as neuroplasticity says that these neural connections are actually physically altered within the brain structure, leading to concrete changes.
Increased Memory Storage
The areas in which memory is stored are the frontal brain lobe and the Hippocampus. Both of these regions light up on scans when measuring brain activity during meditation. This is evidence that the neural pathways are being stimulated. Your capacity for storing additional memories grows as you practice meditation and stimulate these areas of the brain on a regular basis.
There you have it. Meditation is great for your brain. Give it a try and see if you start to notice a difference in your ability to remember and in your focus.
You may have developed a bit of a negative attitude after having dealt with a toxic relationship, and that’s totally understandable. I’ve got good news for you, and I’ve got bad news.
The bad news is that your attitude impacts everything in your life – from here on out, anyway. Your happiness, satisfaction, career, and relationships are all impacted by your attitude.
But hey – that’s also the good news because you have complete control over your attitude. Honestly, you do. Especially once you’ve left the toxic relationship.
Obviously, your toxic relationship (and even healing from one) can make maintaining a positive mental attitude even more challenging. But, if you want to turn your life around, having a good attitude is the first step to making everything else possible. A positive mental attitude is crucial to success and happiness!
I know it feels difficult for you right now, but I’ve got your back. Try these strategies to maintain a positive attitude, even when it feels impossible.
1. Plan an exciting future. If you have a future that excites you, it’s easy to feel positive about life. Even if things are challenging today, you have an exciting life to look forward to. Think about the kind of life you’d like to live. Plan your future and ensure that it’s appealing to you. It should be motivating enough to put a smile on your face. After all, you’re not used to having the freedom of choice after having spent so long connected to a narcissist – take your power and run with it, baby!
2. Be successful each day. Set yourself up to be successful each day. You can do this by making a short to-do list that you know you can complete. Give yourself the experience of being successful each day. You can start with something as simple as making your bed and flossing your teeth before work. I like to use a bullet journal to help me stay on track.
3. Keep your thoughts positive. Positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude. Your brain is always thinking something, and you have control over your thoughts if you choose to exercise that control. Pay attention to what you’re thinking and keep your mind occupied with thoughts that serve you. I like to call this intentional vibration management.
4. Remember your triumphs. If you’re feeling down or hopeless, take a few minutes to remember all the amazing things you’ve accomplished. It’s easy to forget all the things you’ve already mastered and succeeded at, especially when times are tough.
5. Remind yourself that you’re making progress. Even if you’re struggling in your narcissistic abuse recovery, you’re NORMAL, and you’re still making progress. It might be challenging to see, or it might be less progress than you like. However, it’s still progress and a good reason to have a positive attitude.
6. Have something fun to look forward to. What do you have to look forward to in the next month? It could be a movie with a friend or a weekend getaway. Maybe you’re finally going to buy that shirt you’ve had your eye on. Get your groove on, already!
7. Eliminate the negative from your life. The negative things in your life can drag you down. Removing as many of these negative things from your life as possible can make positivity a lot easier to find and maintain. You know exactly what (and WHO) we’re talking about here, right?
8. Surround yourself with people that support you. Rather than spending time with toxic people who seem to suck all the air out of a room, try surrounding yourself with those that lift you up. Life is much easier and more enjoyable with positive people in your corner. Make a list of the people in your life and give them a rating. Determine which of them help you and which are harmful. Start making a few adjustments.
9. Forgive yourself. Okay, you’ve made a few mistakes, picked a toxic partner, maybe, or put up with a toxic friend or family member for too long. And maybe you even squandered a few opportunities. Who hasn’t? It’s time to forgive yourself for your missteps and enjoy your life again. What do you gain by holding a grudge against yourself?
10. Shift your focus. I mean, focus on what you CAN control and not what you can not. This is a HUGE deal. Why waste your energy on anything that you cannot change or affect in any way? It sounds much simpler than it actually is, but it truly works to make your life better (and to keep your thoughts more positive!).
11. Try my daily gratitude practice. Every day, think of 10 things you’re grateful for and 3 things you love about yourself. Talk about raising your vibration! You will be shocked at how effective this can be!
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Journaling Prompt
Ask yourself the following questions and record the answers in your journal.
- Do you have a positive attitude in general?
- Are you optimistic or pessimistic? How do you think that influences your life?
- How has being in a relationship with a toxic person changed your ability to stay positive?
- What do you need to do in order to release the negative energy from your life.
Be honest with yourself, but also compassionate. After you write in your journal, set it aside for the night. Then, take a few minutes to review what you wrote tomorrow. What insights can you gain? What changes do you need to make? You might be surprised at how very effective this exercise can be.
Remember this: Having a positive mental attitude leads to much faster recovery from narcissistic abuse. You’ll also be happier and be more attractive to others if you choose to be. Try to see the bright side of things and expect the best – just maintain your awareness and your boundaries at the same time. Life is more challenging when you have a negative attitude.
Helpful Resources for Shifting Your Perception and Taking Back Your Life
Part of taking care of yourself during and after narcissistic abuse is taking care of your head – more specifically, your brain. We’ve touched upon the types of food that can enhance brain health, but now I want to get into the nitty-gritty of what the brain-boosting foods you eat should contain. You should strive to consume a mix of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients for your brain in order to keep it functioning at its best levels. Read on to learn more about these components, what they do and how you can get more of them.
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in the brain that allow communication between cells. They are made up of a number of components including amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Eating foods high in protein help you to maintain a healthy balance of neurotransmitters. When neurotransmitter levels are low, you could experience a number of difficulties. These include poor concentration, low mood, inability to concentrate and difficulty sleeping. Poultry, meat, fish, dairy and eggs are all good sources of protein.
With age, the nerve cells in your brain become susceptible to damage by destructive compounds known as free radicals. Not only do these unstable molecules of oxygen exist freely throughout your body, but they’re also found in the environment in the forms of pollution, smoke and ultraviolet radiation. Antioxidants are found in nutrients like selenium, beta-carotene and Vitamin C, and can protect your body from the damage done by free radicals. Eat foods like blueberries, dark chocolate, coffee, pecans, artichoke, cranberries and kidney beans to be sure you get sufficient antioxidants in your diet.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
As we age, our brains encounter additional inflammation, the nerve cells decrease and blood supply begins to decline. All of these issues, combined with fewer neurotransmitters, reduce the efficiency of cell communication. Omega-3 fatty acids help to improve brain cell communication by restoring the efficiency of electrical signal release among them. They also work to reduce inflammation and have been shown to keep memory loss at bay. Oily fish like salmon and trout are full of these fatty acids, but there are lots of other foods containing them, as well. Eggs, walnuts and leafy greens are good sources. As are oils like krill, flaxseed, chia and cod liver.
Energy can’t be stored in your brain cells. Therefore, they must receive a constant supply of glucose in order to maintain a healthy, working supply. These types of carbs keep blood sugar levels stable and provide the fuel needed to move nutrient-rich blood to the brain. This energy is delivered efficiently through complex carbohydrates in vegetables and fruits. Whole wheat can be problematic for brain health, though, as it causes blood glucose levels to rise too quickly. Blood sugar spikes are believed to contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Now that you know some of the best nutrients for your brain, you can make wise choices regarding your food intake. Try adding some of your favorites from these categories as you work to improve your overall brain health.
You know how important it is to take care of your brain during your narcissistic abuse recovery. Over the past days, I’ve shared with you the importance of keeping your brain in shape by learning new things, varying your routine and staying active. Today, let’s focus on playing games to maintain your mental fitness.
Brain teasers, games and puzzles can do wonders for maintaining and growing the neural connections in your brain. Traditional games like chess, activities such as jigsaw puzzles and newly popular online brain training programs are all examples of ways you have fun while stretching your mind muscles. Brain teasers and games can help you stay sharp and prevent cognitive decline as you age.
No matter what type of brain-challenging game you play, chances are you will have to be flexible in order to perform well. When you can’t solve the crossword puzzle, you look to outside sources for help. If you get stuck on a move in a particularly challenging chess match, you’ll find yourself playing out various scenarios in your head until you decide which one is the best option. Brain teasers can be frustrating, but you persist and roll with the punches in most cases until you’re able to overcome the challenge presented to you.
Of course, your memory is challenged when engaging in mentally stimulating games. In games against others, you must remember their last move in order to figure out your best strategy. Solo games often present the challenge of either thinking back on previous actions or of holding onto a particular game plan until its use becomes necessary later in the game. Keeping all the information straight is usually the main purpose of such activities.
Brain teasers, games and puzzles give you plenty of opportunities to flex your creativity. Having to quickly come up with solutions to given challenges, to recall past information and to make connections between components forces you to come up with different ideas and to test them out. Your innovation and ingenuity come into play when engaging in these types of activities. Your problem-solving skills are bound to become stronger.
When you practice challenging mind games regularly, you may notice that things start to come easier to you both in these specific games and while completing tasks requiring similar skills. You’re effectively training your mind, and it will become more resilient, able to go with the flow or roll with the punches. Your reaction times and word recall may also improve. Plus, your attention span may grow as you gain experience taking in multiple types of information, while simultaneously figuring out solutions.
As you can see, there are lots of benefits to brain teasers and other such activities. These are merely some of the most common. Grab a friend to play a board game or sit down to a brain training exercise. You’ll soon notice that the rewards are great.
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia is quoted as saying, “There’s rosemary that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember.”
Even in the famous playwright’s day, it was believed that the herb, rosemary, had properties to enhance one’s ability to remember. This is something you may not have heard before or may have simply set aside as an old wives’ tale; however, scientific researchers have shown that this herb contains a number of brain-boosting properties. Keep reading to learn more about rosemary’s ability to improve memory and how you can harness its powers in your everyday life.
Facts About Rosemary
Rosemary has a long history of homeopathic uses. As noted from the above Shakespeare reference, the belief that it is associated with the ability to remember has been around for centuries. Even the ancient Greeks have thought this to be the case. It’s also been seen by some cultures to symbolize love and loyalty. Others have used rosemary as a means to ward off even spirits. Additional uses include improving hair growth, controlling dandruff, relieving pain and healing coughs. The herb has digestive benefits, as well. It’s known to relieve cramping and bloating, along with constipation. In addition, rosemary oil has been shown to lessen respiratory problems such as sore throats, colds and allergies.
Types of Memory
I’d like to take a moment to look at the different types of memory. You use your mind in countless complex ways, and your memory serves various purposes. Past memory is made up of those things you’ve already done or learned. This is the information we hold and maintain for various lengths of time. Present memory is our working memory and involves the knowledge we use in order to complete a task. Future memory is often thought of as, “remembering to remember.” Future memory can prove to be tricky. It has to do with all those things we must remember on our to-do list, the stuff we notoriously forget unless we write it down.
Rosemary and Memory
It’s this future memory that seems to be most affected by rosemary. Researchers have discovered that smelling essential oil from this plant can help to improve people’s ability to remember to complete future tasks. In 2013, scientists from Northumbria University presented their findings regarding rosemary and prospective, or future, memory at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society.
In their study, participants were placed in a room containing the scent of rosemary or lavender oil or in a control room with no scent. They were then given complex memory tests. It was found that the rosemary group of participants scored significantly better than either of the other groups. A more recent test, in 2017, of school children yielded similar findings. The reasoning behind these results are thought to be due to chemical compounds from rosemary being absorbed into the bloodstream and sent to the brain when inhaled.
Sniffing some rosemary oil when you wish to improve your ability to remember to tackle certain tasks could be helpful, according to research and wives’ tales. I’d say it’s worth trying!*
*Your health comes first! Always check with your medical professional before trying any of the advice on this site. We are not medical professionals and this is only advice based on our own experiences and research.