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This is taken from Dr. Laura Ruby’s Blog:

Why zebras don’t get ulcers

In his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Robert Sapolsky explains that the zebra, unlike humans, experiences stress only while the lion is in pursuit, otherwise, she is physiologically calm.  Conversely,  many humans suffer from the cumulative impact of multiple or chronic stressors.   Stressors can be caused by physiologic (internal) or psychologic  (external) triggers.  Today’s woman is a multitasking nightmare.  Many of us are overwhelmed, overloaded with responsibilties and underpayed to boot!   On top of that, some of us have trouble letting things go.  We analyze and over analyze every situation, contributing to the cumulative impact of stress.  I can’t tell you how many times I have “stewed” over a conversation I  had with my husband who has long since forgotten whatever the initial conflict was.  How you respond to and perceive a stressor is one of the key factors that determines your ability to successfully adapt to the stressor.  Keep in mind that the same set of circumstances can be perceived differently by two individuals, which in turn, impacts their physiologic response to the stressors and their ability to achieve homeostasis or maintain balance.  We will talk about perception later this month when we discuss the power of positive thinking.  This month we will journey together and  learn to be more like zebras.

Stages of Stress

The general adaptation theory is based on the research of Hans Selye, MD.  Seyle defines stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it”.  He identified three distinct stages of stress;

  • 1 – Stage 1: Alarm Reaction –> this is the initial “fight or flight” response to stress where the body is prepared for physical activity – cortisol increases and adrenalin is released (this is what you feel when your teenagerstarts a sentance by saying “now mom, promise you won’t get mad…..”
  • 2 – Stage 2: Stage of Resistance –>  if stress is persistent during this phase, the body adapts to the stressors and attempts to reduce the effect of the stressor and maintain homeostasis or balance (this is your husbandhanding you a glass of wine and telling you to put down the steak knife &  take a slow deep breath)
  • 3 – State 3: Stage of Exhaustion –> with prolonged stress the body’ resistance decreases – decreased immune system, adrenal fatigue (this is how many mother’s feel after teaching all 4 of her teenager how to drive.

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