Choon Yong-Stress and Your Body

Author of Book: Professor Robert Sapolsky
Date Read: February 17, 2024

Book Report

Book Report – Stress and Your Body
Begin: 12/2/2023
Finish: 2/17/2024
Title: Stress and Your Body
Author: Professor Robert Sapolsky
Stanford University

Why I Choose to Read This Book:

To learn about stress and its effect on the body. How to manage stress and to avoid stress-related illness.

What I learned from this book:

In this modern world we are spared the classic infectious diseases, undernutrition, and poor hygiene. Instead, we live well enough and long enough that our serious diseases are ones of slow accumulation of damage, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Most of these disease of slow degeneration and westernized lifestyle can be caused or worsened by stress. We have the luxury of dying of a stress-related disease.

Our body seek homeostasis, the state where there is an idea blood pressure, temperature, level of glucose in the blood stream. A stressor is anything that disrupts homeostatic balance. Activation of a stress-response includes secretion of epinephrine (Adrenaline). The stress-response divert energy from storage sites throughout the body to exercising muscles. Blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate increase, accelerating delivery of nutrients to where they are needed – get the oxygen and glucose to the thigh muscles to aid in flight or fight. Long term costly building projects throughout the body such as growth, tissue repair, reproduction and digestion are inhibited. If you are running for your life, it is not a bad idea to ovulate some other time, if it can be done later, if there is a later. Its pain perception is blunted, the body gets better at clotting a wound, the immune system activates, and the brain is alert and processing information more acutely. This is highly adaptive.

Human activate the stress-response as if we are being chased by a predator. But critically, we can activate the same response if we merely think we are about to be knocked out of balance – we have an anticipatory stress-response. It there is no actual physical stressor impending, and we do that regularly, we entered the realm of anxiety, neurosis, hostility and paranoia. Animal do not worry about global warming, but we do. We activate the identical stress-response as animals do but we can do so because of chronic psychological stress. And if that occurs often enough, our disease risk increases, because that is not what the stress-response evolved for.

Chronically diverting energy from storage sites increase the risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes. Chronically increasing blood pressure or deferring growth, tissue repair, or reproduction can exact a health price. In contract to the situation with acute stress, chronic stress suppress, rather than stimulates, the immune system, increasing risk for infectious diseases. And chronically activating the stress-response can cause memory problems, increase the risk of depression and anxiety disorders, and even accelerate brain aging. We humans are smart enough to make ourselves sick with thoughts, emotions, and memories and we live long enough for the consequences to actually haunt us.
The book looks at various parts of the body (eg. Heart, Stomach wall, and immune system) or psychological functions (eg sleep, learning and memory) examining what happens during stress. How chronic stress affect us. it also look at what makes psychological stress stressful, and its relevance to depression, anxiety and addiction. Personality difference can cause some individual to cope with stress better than others. Socioeconomic status have effect on stress and health and how stress management techniques like meditation, exercise, religion, breathing, support network can help manage stress.

How will this book contribute to my success upon release:

The information about stress and its effect on our body has made me aware of how external forces can stress me, especially during my incarceration. This book helps me manage and diffuse my stress so I could survive the ordeal and live another day with less stress. This information will be shared with my family and others when I volunteer my services to the community through teaching, tutoring and mentoring.