Understanding Stress

Understanding Stress




In this new series, we are going to discuss Stress and how stress can influence our daily lives. 

Stress is a part of life. It is something everyone encounters as we cope with ordinary events, interact with people, and meet the demands of life.

In this episode, I am going to draw primarily from the book ‘Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers’ by Robert Sapolsky. A book focusing on self-help and how to cope with stress and how social factors affect stress.

Hope you enjoy the show!





All right. Hey there. And welcome to another episode where we're going to talk about stress today. And so, you know, a lot of us have this, you know, uh, these conceptions about stress, right. You know, it's like we, we say it all the time. I'm very stressed out. Um, you know, I have so much stress in my life. This causes me so much stress. And so let's talk about that, um, for a little bit, cause I just want to really go into the broader concept of stress as a whole, because it manifests itself in so many different ways for us. Right. So when it comes to stress, um, you know, really, I want to talk about the three types of stress that we can experience, right. Um, and this is from, um, Dr. Robert Sapolsky, his book on why zebras don't get ulcers and, and he talks about the three types of stress, um, excellent book, um, for those of you that are interested in exploring more about the stress response, um, and, and all that.


So, so let's first go into the question. Well, what is stress stresses? Our body's reaction to a stressor, right? So a stressor is generally speaking some kind of threat right now. Um, and this is where it comes back down to the different types of stress we can experience. So a stressor is something that causes the stress response. Now the stress response in our body is that fight or flight or freeze mode, right. And really it's our body trying to neutralize a threat, right. Or a perceived threat. And, and what it does is it goes into the fight or flight mode and what the fight or flight mode is designed to do is to get us back into homeostasis. Right. I'm sure most of you heard that word back in ninth grade biology where it's like that equilibrium. Right. So the stress response is designed to get us back into that state and a stressor is anything that puts us into that stress response.


Okay. So hopefully that makes sense. And, um, and then now went on to talk about as these three types of stress, right? So the first is a present danger, right. An acute stress, right. Uh, an acute physical threat is what I believe he calls it in the book. And so, and what does that mean? It means a physical threat that's happening right now. Okay. And so when we, when we think about that, right, it could be as easy as, uh, uh, you know, a lion, you know, coming, you know, charging us, right. Like that's an acute physical threat that's happening right now. Right. Versus, um, you know, someone in, in modern times, like a car coming at you, right. Uh, someone, you know, pointing a gun at you. Right. You know, someone, um, you know, someone yelling at you and telling you they're going to hurt you.


Right. Those things are happening right now. Right. And that's why it, it's an, it's an acute physical danger. Right. So that's going to activate our stress response because our body's going to be like, Oh, we're in danger. We need to protect ourselves. You know, let's, let's go. And we'll talk more, um, in the future about things that happen in distress, like during, in the body and the stress response. But, um, I just kind of want to cover a high level approach in this particular episode. So we have the acute physical danger, and then we have, um, like a chronic physical, um, challenge. Right. So to speak, that's another type of stress. And so if you were, let's say stranded on an Island, right. Like that's a stressor, right? Like that's gonna, that's gonna put your body into the stress response. Your body's going to need to go into that survival mode.


And so, um, and this can be things like chronic pain, right. You know, um, if you were like not eating or starving or, um, you know, you know, not drinking water, right. Not getting your basic needs met, that's going to create a stress response in your body. And so that's the second type. And the third type is psychological stress and social stress. Now these are the events that happen, that aren't necessarily physical dangers that are happening right now, but it's more our mind's ability to create scenarios or, you know, interpret scenarios and, um, and kind of figure out how they might be dangerous to us right now. This makes sense from like an evolutionary perspective in the mind, because the mind is, you know, trying to help us. Right. So if it can come up with possible threats, right. And then we can avoid those well, that's, that's going to help us.


Right. Especially back in the day, right. It's like if we were roaming, the Plains and the mind comes up with, well, what if there's a lion behind that rock? And we avoid the rock. Right. And we live well, that's reinforcing the idea that our minds helping us. And back when there was a lot of physical threats around us that, that served a really good purpose. Now what's happening is that the mind can come up with an endless amounts of threats. Right. You know, um, and especially with things like social media and all that, it's like, it can just compound. Right. And, um, so with social and psychological stress, that's the third type of stress. And that's really where we're going to be spending most of our time talking about, um, because this is the stress that most of us are facing day in, day out, you know, for those of you that, you know, the, that live in, um, kind of more first world countries, right.


You know, we're not facing these chronic dangers of like war and, and, um, and there are places in the world like that right place where war and famine exists, that's a different type of stress. And in more, um, you know, like United States, right in first world countries, the stressors are different. Right. And they tend to be more psychological and social that people experience. And I'm not saying that people don't experience the other ones here. Of course they do. But when we talk about a lot of the chronic stress, that's going on, it's a lot of, it's just what's happening in our mind. Um, and, and that's, and that's, what's ironic about it is we're actually creating our own stress and then reacting to it, and then staying in that state over a long, long period of time. Right. And again, chronic stress, um, you know, does so many things to the body that we're going to cover in this series on, um, you know, just understanding stress.


And so in, in, in, in future episodes, I'm going to talk about, you know, specific things that happen with the stress response. So, um, the whole point is episode is really to kind of cover those three main or those three main types of stress and really understanding what stress is. So, um, you know, I hope you found that helpful. And if you did, please, um, you know, support this by liking and subscribing, as well as, um, you know, we have some resources down in the notes below, and again, a great resource to really dive deep into this is, um, the book why zebras don't get ulcers, um, because, um, Dr. Spolsky who, who wrote it, do you know, it just breaks down everything that you could ever want to know essentially. Um, and so, um, but yeah, so to start this series off, I just wanted to talk about the three main types of stress, which again, are the acute dangers that are happening right now, meaning like the physical dangers, the longterm challenges, right?


Or, um, like survival challenges and then also the psychological and social stress. And as we move forward, we're going to talk about different types of psychological stress. And we're also going to, um, dive into what's going on in the body when we're in the stress response and why it's important for us to have those tools to really make sure that we can, once that stress response is activated, you know, getting ourselves out of it right. And giving our bodies that time to, you know, react mate and, um, ultimately breach homeostasis. So thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with us today. And I look forward to continuing on this series, um, with you guys, and I will see you guys next week.


All right. Take care.


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