What do the stomach and the brain have in common?

Your first reaction might be ‘Not a lot’. After all, they are totally different body parts, with completely different functions. But they share a very similar quality. The amount they can digest.

Have you ever eaten, and drunk, way too much? Probably at a large family dinner, and almost definitely at Xmas time! What happened? Your stomach stopped digesting. You felt tired, maybe even sleepy, not to mention the ‘battle in the belly’ expressing itself through burping – or worse …

Brain also has limits. Sometimes we ask it to juggle too much information, or keep track of too many ‘things to do’, and too many ‘things to remember’.

That’s when the brain becomes totally overwhelmed and, just like the stomach, can no longer ‘digest’ everything.

Here are two examples of brain indigestion:

  1. The ‘huge meal’ scenario

You’ve eaten a large steak with mushrooms and fries, an ice-cream sundae, and finished with a fizzy drink. This type of dinner would cause any stomach to suffer indigestion. 

The same thing can happen if you are handling a very large project. Your brain becomes overwhelmed. You feel irritable because it can’t handle any more information, and you feel you have so much on your plate you can’t help anyone else. This becomes worse – especially if your staff, work colleague, or a family member needs your input – and soon your whole body suffers a stress reaction.

Solution: Give your brain smaller pieces of information. Just like your stomach, your brain will function more effectively when dealing with ‘digestible’ portions.  Making lists can certainly help avoid brain indigestion. But not all lists are created equal.

  1. The ‘butterfly tasting’ scenario 

You are at a party, and there are plenty of delicious nibbles and finger foods on offer. Your eyes, and your taste buds, are totally tempted – and you flutter between a little salmon and some cheese here, a spring roll, or a pastry there, and of course a glass or two of wine (and, if you are sensible, a glass of water in between). And then back for just a little more. You don’t feel as if you’ve eaten dinner, but your stomach is dealing with so many different foods that you get indigestion.

This is how the brain feels when you take on too many small tasks and ‘flit’ from one to the next – it’s called multi-tasking. Research proves that multi-tasking lowers productivity, but our experience with stress testing and stress recovery reveals that people who take time during the day to ‘mono-task’ have the greatest chance of recovery. Scientific data shows that when a person focuses totally on the task at hand – a skill that is cultivated by mindfulness training – the body returns to its natural state of functioning. 

Solution for good brain digestion: Plan your day so that you have at least one or two hours of mono-tasking.

Writen by Gitana Gataveck