Brain Freeze in the Information Age!

Recently Michael has been no stranger to headaches. They come every day, usually right before lunch, sometimes much early. It’s not that his eyes that are tired, or that he’s hungry. It’s his mind. It’s over-saturated with information. Sitting in front of a computer screen, one hand on a smart phone, and an Ipad within arm’s reach, the circuits of his brain are simply maxed out, resulting in repeated bouts of “cognitive meltdown.” That’s when the tension headaches appear. Michael is not alone. For others, however, the backwash of sensory overload shows up through different physical maladies including TMJ, migraines, lower back pain, or repeated colds, (the association between stress and disease is colossal, and well documented.) Cognitive meltdown, also referred to as ‘cognitive paralysis,” begins with poor attention span, but quickly moves to poor memory, poor decision making, poor reaction time and even chronic bouts of insomnia. Research reveals that chronic stress such as this, is not good for brain cells. Simply stated: chronic stress ages brain tissue.

While it’s true that the mind craves stimulation, it also necessitates downtime where there is no stimulation, hence allowing time to process bits of necessary information and make sense of it all. This after all, is one purpose of meditation—clear thinking. It’s fair to say that the fascination, if not addiction, with “screen time” has become a new form of stress: sensory bombardment coupled with information overload. Never before in our lifetimes have we been inundated with so much information. This bounty of facts, figures, opinions, perceptions and beliefs, all within a few keystrokes or mouse clicks is taking its toll, not only on personal health but ultimately quality of work productivity as well.

Eric Clapton got it right with his CD titled, Unplugged. We should all take his suggestion to heart. Unplugging from technology regularly and giving the mind a chance to process, unwind and problem solve is essential for optimal health and well-being. Another term to describe being unplugged, is “healthy boundaries,” a premium stress management coping technique. So establish a healthy boundary with technology. Dedicate time away from the computer, smart phone, and other e-gadgets. Make a habit of engaging in physical exercise (without the Nano Ipad). Your brain and most likely your friends will thank you.

Stress Tip for the Day:
Please, don’t become roadkill on the information super highway. Take time to unplug from screen time so as to allow your unconscious mind a chance to process what information you have been absorbing. And while you are at, take time to sit quietly and meditate each day to cleanse your mind. You’re brain will thank you. So will your friends and family.

Links/Books/ Movies Worth Noting:
See if you can get your hands on the March 7th edition of Newsweek. The cover story, Brain Freeze is well worth reading.

Quote for the Day:
“ I finally get meditation… It’s like deleting old emails.” —8th grader, HealthQuest Program Sunset Middle School

Photo for the Day:
When most people think brain freeze, they think eating icecream too fast. I didn’t have a photo of any icecreame, but I do have lots of photos of icebergs…from Greenland. Enjoy!

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Brian Luke Seaward

Author Brian Luke Seaward

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Moshe Sharon says:

    The word “Stress” actually relates to wear and tear as when the rubber meets the road on a tire or the brake pads pressing up against the rotor in the wheel. The term as it applies to living organisms was first introduced by Hans Seyle in the 1930’s who defined it as the consequence of the failure of an organism (human or animal) to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats, whether actual or imagined. Thus stress symptoms are the manifestation of a chronic state of responses to stress triggers that are actually benign. Even a thought can set off the same response mechanism that would be in play while standing in front of a hungry lion. Hence, Seyle’s definition still reaches to the heart of stress management; the idea of the response being inappropriate and engaging in a process of altering ones misperception of pending disaster or imminent danger.

  • Anonymous says:

    It was a little stressful trying to read this post! Great info – but no paragraph breaks. That’s really hard to read.

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