14 March 2011

My Brain Hurts

In the middle of a workshop last week, one of my participants announced that she needed a rest as her brain was full! I was aware that I had possibly overloaded the class with information, but was intrigued by her comment that her brain hurt and she all of a sudden felt utterly exhausted.

We are all familiar with the mid afternoon energy slumps and the consistently well documented advice around regulating blood sugar levels by eating little and often, with a good balance of nutrients, keeping hydrated, maintaining a regular sleep pattern to promote healthy rhythms etc etc. But what happens when we feel real brain “pain” and are utterly depleted?

Fatigue, like pain is fundamentally a brain mediated sensation. As with pain, most people report that they experience fatigue as an overwhelming phenomenon, apparently occurring mainly in the muscular skeletal areas. However on closer questioning, people also refer to mental fatigue and this is typically precipitated by complex neurological tasks or intense bouts of concentration. At the extreme end, some people may suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is still a subject of intense interest to neuroscientists – as it is as much about the brain, the nervous system as it is about the physical body.

Fortunately my participant came back from the mid-afternoon workshop break after a glass of water and a walk around the block, challenging the group for more information!  It's as though when we get to overload and we need a period of down-time to process the information and clear the 'log-jam' before coming back for more.

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