Cortisol, the same hormone that comes into play during childbirth, kicks in whenever we're stressed. With the challenges of raising kids, moms might as well be mainlining it -- which means an almost constant assault on the brain's memory centers.
That said, your brain won't be permanently affected by that crazy morning when you had a job interview and the baby pooped down her leg and your toddler spilled juice on his jacket just as you were loading them in the car for daycare. And besides, that sort of situation can't be helped. "The key isn't to try to avoid stress, but to figure out how to manage it," says Cynthia Green, Ph.D., author of Total Memory Workout and a mom of three.
* Anything that enables you to relax, whether it's a yoga class or reading a few pages of a novel, is a good thing. Don't have much time? Find a quiet place and try to "breathe into your heart" for a few minutes: Close your eyes, imagine the face of someone you love, and breathe deeply as you think of that person.
* If you can't get a second to yourself, unwind with your kids. "I'll sit down and color with my two-year-old for fifteen minutes, or we'll all take a walk," says Green. "I find being with my kids grounds me. I forget about my bad day by focusing on whatever we're doing together."