Could the Government Shut-Down Lead to Brain Damage?

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Image Credit: Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958, encaustic on canvas, Whitney Museum of American Art

Better Brains Dispatch from Dr. G and Sarah Kornfeld…10.04.2013

Is it possible that with all of the stress of politics, status power plays, late hours, poor sleep, free-floating anxiety, blaming others for their own actions, and finally, having no quiet time at all, that our government is damaging its and our collective brain and nervous system?

We at The George Greenstein Institute (GGI) have some tips we’d like to give to our US government officials to see if we can help slow down long-term memory loss, curb anxiety, stave off heart disease and reboot national trust circuits for effective governance.  There may be no better time than now: Our government seems wanting of some brain knowledge on how to get “unstuck” or it might have a neural shutdown of its own.

 Here is a no-brainer approach to getting “unstuck” – so easy, it might speed up the process of resolution and getting our country back to work:

1.     Stop, reappraise and admit you need to take a nice slow breath. Maybe you’ve read Congressman Tim Ryan’s little primer A Mindful Nation. Or perhaps you caught theHuffington Review post review of highly successful CEO’s and leaders (Bill Ford of Ford Motors, former president Bill Clinton and even Rupert Murdoch) who have learned to stop, breathe and cool their jets! Yes Meditation is good business, good for health and good for governance. Still not convinced? Of course you need evidence-based medicine, which our own National Institute of Health is only too glad to supply once its website gets turned back on.

2.     Take a walk! Leave the building and walk briskly for twenty minutes a day, one hundred and fifty minutes a week. That’s right, each member of the Congress and our President needs to get out and get their hearts pumping blood to their brains. As our scientific and medical communities push out robust neurobiological research, we can now say with utter confidence, your daily jaunt will increase the needed levels of hormones to reduce toxic stress, improve synaptic bonding for memory consolidation and open the cognitive floodgates to problem–solving.  Yet with all of the Filibustering, posturing and finger pointing, we bet you are starting to forget why you even made the decision to shut down. 

3.     Put down the Scotch on the Rocks and give your staff members a hug. No, really. Put the drink down and get a better rush. Do this “hug thing” five times a day till you solve the problem in your own party before entering into the trust circle with President Obama and other members of Congress. To boost your confidence, consider research conducted by Dr. Paul Zak, esteemed neuroeconomist who has studied the science of trust, bonding and hugs for over a decade.  Zak, an expert on the writings of Adam Smith, shows us that oxytocin, the “moral molecule,” runs freely in trust building, hug-generating nations that govern economic systems throughout the world.  No surprise, the USA is not included on the trust list and so our elected leaders should probably follow Zak’s advice: hug more.

That’s right, Breath, Walk, Hug. It’s that simple, that critical, ladies and gentlemen of the House and Senate. Yes, we want, and need you to take control of your central nervous systems, because, quite frankly, it takes a healthy mind, brain and body to recover from this shut down shock to your system… and ours.  *******

Posted on October 5th, 2013
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