Book Notes – Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

Pretty interesting read that goes into the details on how stress affects us as we’re generally in situations that generate chronic stress (as opposed to wildlife, that deals with acute stress). The big takeaways:

  • Stress-related sickness comes from the basic fact that we have our stress-response (response to stressor to return to homeostatis) turned on continually, as opposed to in the appropriate fight-or-flight situations.
  • Provides an aversion to Hans Seyle’s 3 part of stress, General Adaptation Principle:
    • Alarm – stressor, initial reaction, flight or flight
    • Resistance – stress-response, attempted recovery to homeostatis
    • Exhaustion – the point where the stress-response becomes more harmful than the stressor (as opposed to the stressor causing exhaustion)
  • The opposite of love is not hate – it’s indifference.
  • Having less social relationships is correlated to shorter lifespan and worse health.
  • Type-A personalities generally associated with higher levels of stress-related disease.
  • Addiction:
    • Turning point of addiction – when issue comes not from good feeling of drug, but bad feeling from it’s absence.
    • “No such thing as an ex-addict, just an addict not in the context that triggers use”
  • Subset of healthy population in old age traits:
    • No smoking
    • Minimal alcohol use
    • Lots of exercise
    • Normal body weight
    • No depression
    • Stable and happy marriage
    • Mature, resilient coping style (extroversion, social connectedness, low neuroticism)

Building Blocks of Physiological Stressors

  • Having outlets for frustration
  • Social support
  • Predictability
  • Control (belief of control, not necessarily actual control)
  • A perception of things worsening

Effect of Poverty on Stress

Poverty in general provides an environment of high stress and plenty of issues. Includes:

  • Lack of capability to think ahead (constantly putting out fires).
  • Lack of outlets (unable to get away due to lack of funds/resources)
  • Experiencing poverty early in life makes one sensitive to stressors (even if they rise above poverty)

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