Combining cutting-edge research with a healthy dose of practical advice, renowned primatologist Robert Sapolsky provides essential guidance to control your response to stress.
The Bottom Line
Animals experience extreme stress — but only in short bursts. Humans tend to worry for months on end, triggering a chronic stress response that causes physical and mental fallout, from depression to heart disease.
Biologist and neuroscientist Robert M. Sapolsky spends his summers hanging out with baboons — a habit that dates back to his undergraduate days at Harvard, when he started following a troop of baboons in the Serengeti during school breaks.
What he discovered was that baboons have distinct personalities and, as with humans, some of them are better at coping with stress than others. Even though, as humans, we like to think of ourselves as separate from and superior to animals, in many ways we’re really just another mammal. Our natural stress response mirrors that of a zebra running from a lion or a lion hunting for its first meal in days.
Unfortunately, the physiological stress response that works so well for animals escaping a predator can’t tell the difference between a real, immediate stressor and phantom worries cooked up by the human brain. And when triggered chronically, the physiological reaction to those worries can have serious health repercussions.
In Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Sapolsky explains how stress affects us and how we can handle it better.
II. Zebras Don’t Stress About Paying the Mortgage
III. When Your Body Encounters Stress
IV. A Life-Saving System
V. The Ill Effects of Chronic Stress
VI. Stress Is Not an Equal Opportunity Offender
VII. Take Control — But Not Too Much
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