Stress Causes Brain Damage

Salvador's Clock

The other day, a friend of mine admitted he was feeling stressed. That same day, he made a big decision to take a social media sabbatical.

According to Dr. Richard Restak, author of Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot, my friend's decision is probably a good idea. Because stress causes brain damage.

Of course, when we're living in a stressed-out condition, we don't perceive the death of our brain cells. Yet we do feel the little deaths all around... of our sanity, of the health of our relationships, of our physical well-being. So why do we persist in our approach?

Maybe it's because we believe in the myth of multi-tasking. We think our brain can pay attention to multiple things at a time. Says molecular biologist John Medina, author of Brain Rules, "Businesses and schools praise multi-tasking, but research clearly shows that it reduces productivity and increases mistakes."

The statistics are startling. Medina shares, "Studies show that a person who is interrupted [supposedly multi-tasking] takes 50 percent longer to accomplish a task. Not only that, he or she makes up to 50 percent more errors." Some of the most dangerous scenarios? Talking on a cell-phone while driving (it's like driving drunk).

But back to our ordinary, non-vehicular lives. A mom or dad trying to muster energy to prepare healthy meals. Parents searching for patience with little ones. A young woman trying to make it through another day at the office. What does it cost to try to multi-task, when in fact the brain isn't designed to do that?

Stress. Invisible brain damage. And maybe some damage to things that aren't so invisible.

Medina recommends, "Try creating an interruption-free zone during the day— turn off your e-mail, phone, IM program, or BlackBerry— and see whether you get more done." And see, I would add, if your stress begins to fade away.

Quotes from Brain Rules are from p.93, 87, 93. Salvador Dali artwork photo taken in Paris at Espace Dali, by L.L. Barkat.

Black-Eyed Peas

Stress-Free Black-Eyed Peas

On a night when I'm looking for something really simple, this dish is a great choice.

Saute until lightly browned...

• red onion, chopped chunky

Add and saute about 5 minutes...

• 1/2 tsp cumin (add spices before tomatoes, so they dissolve in oil)
• 1/2 tsp fennel seed
• 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 TB soy "bacuns"
• garlic, minced
• two fresh tomatoes, chopped (or one small can)

Add and saute until thickened...

• 2 cups dry (soaked and then cooked) or two to three cans black-eyed peas


Toss in some fresh chives and or chopped parsley. Drizzle with olive oil.

Serve over rice or with crusty bread, green beans and salad. Relax and enjoy. : )

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Blogger Sarah said...

Stress-free food...I love it! And I've been thinking along the media/stress line lately, too. Sitting at my computer, flipping between windows and tabs all day (most of my job is on the computer), makes me so tired. There's not much of a way around it, but the media-free zone sounds so nice right now.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

You should try talking on a cell phone while you're leaving comments on a blog... and supposedly taking a social media sabbatical!

3:53 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sarah... and this one is a great comfort food too. Very earthy and satisfying. As for your computer life, is there a way to find a media-free zone in the day?

Mark... okay, that's really funny. :) You're not doing something crazy like trying to eat pizza too, are you?

4:03 PM  
Blogger Joelle said...

I'm reassured to read that science supports my intuition--I AM NOT A MULTITASKER, nor was I ever meant to be (even though I am female). Makes the guilt for poor performance at this job, which demands multitasking, less.

7:21 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

mmm ... i love black-eyed peas and i love your recipes. mmm ...

stress causing brain damage makes much sense and i can most definitely attest to the truth that multi-tasking is synonymous with decreased productivity & increased mistakes. as in, how in the world did i miss that? and that took much longer that it should have.

makes me thankful for the sabbath.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Yum!! I love black-eyed peas.
Stress causes brain damage.
Oh my word, this is so true on so many levels. I wouldn't even begin to know how to understand or explain it. (The stress, you know.)
LOVE this.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Anonyblogger said...

Good to know that my brain is dying daily.

The Black-eyed peas look like a dying, stressed-out brain. Or maybe its the mess left after structured settlements read this post ;-)Bet you weren't trying for that effect.

6:26 PM  

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