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Who’s for lunch?

Dr Robert Sapolsky, author of the book “Why zebras don’t get ulcers” can be seen on you-tube describing how stress has gone from saviour to killer. A vital function in a life threatening chrisis may be what eventually puts an end to our secure and cushioned lives.

 

For the average mammal stress is about “3 minutes of screaming terror on the savanna, after which it’s either over with or you’re over with”. For the rest of us things are rather more complicated as our bodies have difficulty telling what is actually out there in reality and what is just in our minds. Our minds that spend a lot of their time replaying old experiences, obsessing over the past and worrying about the future. Instead of mobilising for those extreme but limited “3 minutes of screaming terror” we find ourselves in a constant state of “red alert”.

 

A high level of stress means a number of physical functions are enhanced and others are put on hold. The blood pressure rises to make sure your muscles are getting a maximum of oxygen. Systems for repair and recovery are shut down until the chrisis is over. The problem is, our chrises never end. Unless we stop them.

 

Instead of becoming worn down victims of our own inner processes there is the option to take more control over them. Take more control over our attention. An attention that left to its’ own device jumps from thought to thought, from memory to memory, often with a tendency to land upon those things that are most stress producing.

 

This may sound like something only for the extremely neurotic but is more or less valid for all of us. Everyone can benefit from improving their ability to focus their attention.  Being less in the past, less in the future and more in the moment that is now. I mean, to be honest, looking around you, at your surroundings and yourself, right here and right now, what risk do you really run of becoming someone’s lunch?

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