Low performance of journalists linked to high alcohol intake….reports Asian Lite News
While low pay, constant deadlines and high levels of accountability all contribute to greater stress levels in journalists, drinking too much alcohol is one of the factors making their brains operate at a lower level than the average population, suggests new research.
Journalists’ brains, compared to other groups, showed a lower level of executive functioning — the ability of the brain to regulate emotions, suppress bias, switch between tasks, solve complex problems and think flexibly and creatively, the study said.
This was driven by a number of factors, including high levels of alcohol, sugar and caffeine consumption; dehydration; and limited time given to mindfulness, which would allow individuals to take a break from busy mental thought.
In the study conducted in association with the London Press Club, neuroscientist Tara Swart found that 41 per cent of the journalists drank 18 or more units of alcohol a week while the recommended weekly allowance is 14.
Less than five per cent of the journalists drank enough water, showed the findings presented at a London Press Club event held at the Corinthia Hotel this week.
However, the pressures of the job are not affecting journalists’ ability to endure and bounce back from adversity in the long term, due to a belief that their work has meaning and purpose.
The study, which sought to determine how journalists are able to survive and thrive under stress, thus showed that “love of the job” protects journalists’ mental resilience but alcohol and bad habits are holding them back.
“It’s been great to see the role that meaning and purpose plays in achieving mental resilience. There is more that journalists can do to achieve peak performance -implementing a few really simple changes to help their brains perform even better,” Swart said: “I hope this study serves as useful tool to journalists, but also to anyone who wants to understand how neuroscience can show us how to join up brain and body health, and through that become more mentally resilient,” Swart added.
The researcher explained that alcohol is a depressant and neurotoxin. When alcohol is consumed the liver must work harder to remove the neurotoxins from the body.
When this occurs during sleep, at a time when the body should be in recovery, this causes a stress reaction.
Alcohol also contributes to dehydration. As little as a one to three per cent change in hydration levels can result in lower physical, visuomotor, psychomotor and cognitive performance. Dehydration can also significantly impair short term memory capability, the study said.