Posts Tagged ‘Impact of stress’

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MONEY WORRIES SAP BRAIN POWER

August 30, 2013

A STRIB article with this header caught my attention this morning; and reading it, I learned a lot.

“People worrying about having enough money to pay their bills tend to lose temporarily the equivalent of 13 IQ points.”

The author continued on giving examples of swings in cognitive ability from 25% to 40% when money worries were also being given “brain attention”.

The key points:

  • The effect is very impactful
  • The effect is temporary
  • The effect is similar to going without sleep for a night

Add that brain-dead feeling when robbed of sleep to the worry of how to manage until one receives the next check and what do you get?  It appears we have not only a very serious barrier to overcoming the  problem at hand, but some pretty good evidence why it sometimes APPEARS the poor do not match you who are judging them in innate abilities…even though it is not true.

Rational thought may be beyond their capacity in the moment, but it is a TEMPORARY CONDITION.

This was a real EUREKA moment for me, as it answered a nagging question that was a cornerstone of the Republican campaign in the 2012 elections.  I disagreed, of course, with the bigoted rationale that said they did not want to change that pointed to those who have never been able to achieve mobility out of the poverty into which they were born.  But I really objected to the Republican thinking that the middle class that arose out of World War Two and built the successes of this country had suddenly been afflicted with a disease – yet to be defined or isolated- that turned those same people into part of the 47% that were hopeless in this country. Of course I recognized that this was biased and irrational thinking.  But I did not fully understand the gravity of the barriers those 47% were indeed facing.

Let’s take just one example of an “average” person with an “average” IQ of 100.  Add money problems. The brain capacity drops to 87.  Then add to that the inability to support a family with one job that pays minimum wage.  So the person worrying gets a second job….also at minimum wage. Oh good, they are now making $30,000+ a year- should have all they need to for a family of 4 right?  NO! So they are still worrying, and now they are trying to cram 16 hours of family time, and social time and sleep time and maybe school time as they try to improve their own wage-earning ability into the 8 remaining hours needed for sleep.  Opps, there goes another 13 % of decision making ability down the drain.  Now they are trying to function with a brain ability of 74%.

Yes, that is about what the high end of estimates say they will function at…but what if they have not had the benefit of education themselves, or positive role models, or a vision that life could be better?  They now may fall into that low end 40% category of brain capacity loss…so they could be functioning on a brain working at 60% of capacity…an IQ of 60.  Yes, they may be impaired by the stress of their situation enough to make decisions that do not mirror what YOU would do.

But turn that around:  Let’s pluck you out of the top 2%; transport you to another country –for the sake of the game, let’s say middle of Africa or Asia…where there are no phones, where you were not educated in the culture, language and mores of the land, and give you three other people for which you are responsible. If you do not provide for them; they die.  If they die-so do you.  How well do you think you would do?  If you are hungry enough, sleep-deprived enough, worried enough about how you can take care of those three people plus yourself, are you SURE you would come forth victorious?  Would your children emerge bright and industrious and well-prepared to move into the top two percent of the place in which you now live? Maybe, if you were adopted and nurtured by the community into which you were dropped; probably not, if you were not.  Just the stress you are under may well have lessened your IQ to that point where you are only capable of harvesting vegetables – but not competent to do much else.   Fortunately for you, this is only a temporary condition.  Once you are plucked up out of that environment, you return to being a functioning adult.

On a personal note, this article in the Strib today may be just what I need.  I made a bad decision in early July and my love of the river allowed me to throw away common sense and agree to offer my meeting design and logistics ability to a group of people planning a meeting in October.  I knew enough about the group to proceed with caution; and stipulated a base token fee and the number of hours I could contribute that could ensure an exit strategy if possible.

 Seven weeks into the game and I have invested double the time with no hopes that it will lesson going forward.   This could easily mean a time investment that in the business world would also yield $60,000 of income.  Unfortunately, it’s a non-profit and a flat fee stipend of $2500 has turned my life into a nightmare. And more than not receiving fair compensation for my time investment, other than the board member overseeing the project and the two staff members I am working with, I seriously do not remember EVER being talked to or treated with as little respect that I have been treated in the last seven weeks-even in those early days of being a woman in business with a role other than secretarial and a whole lot of “good old boys”. J

Now, perhaps I don’t remember being treated this bad, because those money worries are already impacting my brain capacity, but nevertheless… I am trying to juggle real clients, and the search for real clients post-October, and my own daily life, and move on a new opportunity of my dreams, with a net result that I am averaging 4-5 hours of sleep per night – definitely not enough to maintain a rational –thinking brain.  And consequently, I am caught in the very whirlwind described above.  I am not acting rationally either….or I would have already “fixed” the problem and disappeared.

And now, understanding the net in which I am caught, I recognize Tuesday I have to make the move to recapture my own life.  And just in case by then my brain is back in a non-functioning capacity, I have shared this with a good friend – who I KNOW will not let me destroy myself for people who could care less!