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Importance Of Health And Vigor Of The Nervous System

Parallel with opportunities for proper stimuli and response the nervous

system must possess good tonicity, or vigor. This depends in large

degree on general health and nutrition, with freedom from overfatigue.

No favorableness of environment nor excellence of training can result in

an efficient brain if the nerve energy has run low from depleted health,

want of proper nourishment, or exhaustion.

NCE OF FATIGUE.--Histologists find that the nuclei of nerve

cells are shrunk as much as fifty per cent by extreme fatigue.

Reasonable fatigue followed by proper recuperation is not harmful, but

even necessary if the best development is to be attained; but fatigue

without proper nourishment and rest is fatal to all mental operations,

and indeed finally to the nervous system itself, leaving it permanently

in a condition of low tone, and incapable of rallying to strong effort.

For rapid and complete recuperation the cells must have not only the

best of nourishment but opportunity for rest as well.

Extreme and long-continued fatigue is hostile to the development and

welfare of any nervous system, and especially to that of children. Not

only does overfatigue hinder growth, but it also results in the

formation of certain toxins, or poisons, in the organism, which are

particularly harmful to nervous tissue. It is these fatigue toxins that

account for many of the nervous and mental disorders which accompany

breakdowns from overwork. On the whole, the evil effects from mental

overstrain are more to be feared than from physical overstrain.

THE EFFECTS OF WORRY.--There is, perhaps, no greater foe to brain growth

and efficiency than the nervous and worn-out condition which comes from

loss of sleep or from worry. Experiments in the psychological

laboratories have shown that nerve cells shrivel up and lose their

vitality under loss of sleep. Let this go on for any considerable

length of time, and the loss is irreparable; for the cells can never

recuperate. This is especially true in the case of children or young

people. Many school boys and girls, indeed many college students, are

making slow progress in their studies not because they are mentally slow

or inefficient, not even chiefly because they lose time that should be

put on their lessons, but because they are incapacitating their brains

for good service through late hours and the consequent loss of sleep.

Add to this condition that of worry, which often accompanies it from the

fact of failure in lessons, and a naturally good and well-organized

nervous system is sure to fail. Worry, from whatever cause, should be

avoided as one would avoid poison, if we would bring ourselves to the

highest degree of efficiency. Not only does worry temporarily unfit the

mind for its best work, but its evil results are permanent, since the

mind is left with a poorly developed or undone nervous system through

which to work, even after the cause for worry has been removed and the

worry itself has ceased.

Not only should each individual seek to control the causes of worry in

his own life, but the home and the school should force upon childhood as

few causes for worry as may be. Children's worry over fears of the dark,

over sickness and death, over prospective but delayed punishment, over

the thousand and one real or imaginary troubles of childhood, should be

eliminated so far as possible. School examinations that prey on the

peace of mind, threats of failure of promotion, all nagging and sarcasm,

and whatever else may cause continued pain or worry to sensitive minds

should be barred from our schoolroom methods and practice. The price we

force the child to pay for results through their use is too great for

them to be tolerated. We must seek a better way.

THE FACTORS IN GOOD NUTRITION.--For the best nutrition there is

necessity first of all plenty of nourishing and healthful food. Science

and experience have both disproved the supposition that students should

be scantily fed. O'Shea claims that many brain workers are far short of

their highest grade of efficiency because of starving their brains from

poor diet. And not only must the food be of the right quality, but the

body must be in good health. Little good to eat the best of food unless

it is being properly digested and assimilated. And little good if all

the rest is as it should be, and the right amount of oxidation does not

go on in the brain so as to remove the worn-out cells and make place for

new ones. This warns us that pure air and a strong circulation are

indispensable to the best working of our brains. No doubt many students

who find their work too hard for them might locate the trouble in their

stomachs or their lungs or the food they eat, rather than in their