When it comes to stress, it appears that zebras are much better at dealing with it than humans. (In fact, this is true of most animals, although elephants and whales seem to have the capacity for prolonged stress.)
According to Robert Sapolsky - neurobiologist, primatologist, and professor of biology at Stanford University - the main advantage zebras have over us is that their stress-response is short-lived. Their survival mechanism is activated for a ‘fight or flight’, short-term crisis and when the threat is over, the zebra’s body returns to homeostasis - a state of balance. The same should be true for us but because we don’t discern what is a real threat and what is fabricated, our stress-response is triggered all too often. In Sapolsky’s acclaimed book, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”, he shines a light on the science of stress and makes us deeply aware of the dangers it presents to our psychological and physical well-being. Dangers such as the potential for heart disease, digestive issues, diabetes, cancer and depression.
Did you know that the main modern-day stressors are: traffic jams, deadlines, fast-pace, lack of nature, relationships, workplace, where we rank (perceived or actual) in society, inequality and poverty? In other words, things that we have ‘learned’ to perceive as threatening, but that are not necessarily life or death situations.
And did you know that stress in itself does not make you sick? Rather, it increases your risk of getting the diseases that make you sick because of its effect on the immune system.
And what about this prediction? Robert Sapolsky forecasts that “by 2020, depression is predicted to be a leading cause of medical disability on earth.” This, he says, is yet another ‘learned behaviour’ that he puts down to man’s repression of strong emotions - a way of turning aggression in on himself. Plain and simply, we create a lot of our problems in our own minds.
Hope and help is available though, and here at Grey Owl we offer many activities that combat stress and calm the mind: yoga, qigong, meditation, energy work and social support to name just a few. However, if you are that rare breed and have an awesome, magical, sensational and incredible talent for animal transformation then go on, be a zebra!
Copyright: Gill Carmody,
Qigong Instructor and External Healing Practitioner
Practice reducing stress in your body with this
Qigong Organ Cleansing Guided Visualization exercise from Gill (This recording will only be available for the month of September!)