I don't know where my brain is lately. Oh, I know it's still lodged firmly in the bony recesses of my skull. But the part of it that's supposed to be working - keeping track of all the to-do lists, coming up with things to write about, managing all the little details demanded by the insurance companies I work with, helping me remember where I'm supposed to be at any given time - that part of it seems to have gone missing.
Or at least out to a very long lunch.
I've been feeling REALLY scatterbrained lately, and this is a quite new and unwelcome phenomenon for me. I've always prided myself on my ability to store details in my head, everything from calendar appointments to log-ins and passwords - even the birthdays of otherwise long forgotten acquaintances were once stored safely in the recesses of my mind.
Recently I feel as if it's all coming unglued in there, as if all the bits and bytes of information stored in my cerebral hard drive have come loose and are floating around in a huge disorganized conglomerate.
At least I'm not alone. The effects of aging on the middle aged brain have been the subject of a spate of recent magazine articles. Women are particularly prone to memory lapses and mental confusion. It seems that as we age, our brains are no longer as adept at blocking out unneeded information, so that the multitude of stimuli we're bombarded with each day clutters the space in our brain...sort of like the way my kitchen table looks by the end of the week when I've dumped everything from mail to work to leftovers on it. Hormonal changes associated with menopause also affect brain function, causing age related physical changes which make the brain work less efficiently.
It all adds up to feeling frazzled and addled. And I feel like I'm losing control.
For a while I've been blaming the state of my life for these changes in mentation - that whole long year filled with loss and disruption seemed to jumpstart this process, and it hasn't improved much in recent months, despite their relative stability.
I also attribute my scattered mental status to the ever present bombardment of stimuli. I admit I'm often powerless to control my addiction to the internet with its eternal distractions of information overload and constant array of social media. Unlike the members of my son's generation, I wasn't raised on the mother's milk of the world wide web and all its irresistible fascinations. My roots harken back to the olden days of four basic TV channels, the FM radio, and the local library. These old processors weren't wired for 21st century media, and are working harder and harder just to keep up.
But I can't ignore the fact that I am getting older, and have to accept that my brain will change along with the rest of my body. Sigh.
Those same magazine articles also assure me I'm not powerless to combat these disruptions in my cognitive ability. What helps? Exercise, apparently. (Good thing I've been spending more and more time pedaling my old bicycle and using my Walk at Home DVD's.) I'm sure diet and nutrition come into play. I've also heard that learning new activities helps build stronger brain function.
But somehow I think the solution is as easy as this old acronym -KISS.
Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Yep, sometimes life is general is just too complicated for this old brain to handle.
How about you? Where's your brain these days? How scattered is it? And what are you doing about it?