Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
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Stress is a part of life for everyone. But when it gets out of control, it can reduce the quality or even the length of our lives.
The kids, the traffic, the job. The never-ending to-do list. It's no wonder so many people feel stressed out.
Stanford University's Doctor Robert Sapolsky is an expert on stress and the author of " Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers."
He says in the jungle or on the Savannah the fight or flight stress response is all about survival.
Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D./ Stanford University Researcher: "IF YOU'RE A NORMAL BORING MAMMAL, WHAT STRESS IS ABOUT IS THREE MINUTES OF SCREAMING TERROR ON THE SAVANNAH BECAUSE SOMEBODY IS TRYING TO PREDATE YOU, OR YOU'RE VERY INTENT ON PREDATING SOMEBODY ELSE. AND IT'S BASIC CHARACTERISTIC IS YOUR BODY IS SCREAMINGLY ACTIVE AND IT'S ALL GOING TO BE OVER WITHIN THREE MINUTES, OR YOU'RE OVER WITH."
Physiologically, it's like you're running for your life. Unfortunately we turn that same stress response on for psychological reasons, just by worrying.
"WONDERING IF SOCIAL SECURITY IS GOING TO BE AROUND WHEN YOU'RE OLD, OR WONDERING IF THE OZONE LAYER IS GOING TO LAST, OR WONDERING IF YOU'RE GOIING TO GET A PARKING SPOT TODAY IN A GOOD LOCATION."
Sapolsky says if your stress response is on all the time it can make you sick, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, problems with fertility or the immune system.
"WE WESTERNIZED HUMANS DON'T GET SICK IN NORMAL WAYS. WE DON'T GET DYSENTARY AND WE'RE DEAD 24 HOURS LATER. INSTEAD WE HAVE DISEASES THAT SLOWLY DO US IN OVER 60, 70, 80 YEARS. THESE ARE ALSO DISEASES THAT ARE VERY, VERY SENSITIVE TO LIFESTYLE."
Our thoughts, our emotions, our memories are all things which can trigger a stress response. It makes us human, but it also affects our health.
Dr. Kim will have more on stress this Friday. Specifically, do men and women respond differently to stress, and what we can do to get our stress levels under control?