A stress free morning with Om Malik

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You might know that Om Malik, founder of GigaOm, one of my favorite blogs and media companies, had a heart attack last December. He’s been reminding me to lose weight, and make other improvements to have a happier and longer life.

Well, this morning I got together with him and Stanford Professor Robert Sapolsky to talk about the effects of stress on us.

Sapolsky is one of the world’s experts on this topic. He studies how stress harms our brains and bodies and has studied that on not just humans but also various other animals. He is a neuroendocrinologist, has focused his research on issues of stress and neuron degeneration, as well as on the possibilities of gene therapy strategies for help in protecting susceptible neurons from disease. He wrote several books, including “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.”

Translation: a fascinating conversation. Hope it helps you destress your life. I think I’m going to go meditate while at the Office 2.0 Conference that I’m attending in San Francisco right now. :-)

Comments

  1. Great interview, love the combination of Om and Sapolsky!

    For those who are interested in learning more about Sapolsky’s research, National Geographic has produced a new documentary called “Stress: Portrait of a Killer” that will air on PBS, September 24 at 8PM.

  2. Great interview, love the combination of Om and Sapolsky!

    For those who are interested in learning more about Sapolsky’s research, National Geographic has produced a new documentary called “Stress: Portrait of a Killer” that will air on PBS, September 24 at 8PM.

  3. @fanau I believe that Sapolsky’s research goes something like this…

    Zebras respond to stress in life-threatening situations and for short periods of time. When chased by a lion, zebras (and humans) have evolved to shut off “non-essential” bodily functions (e.g. reproduction, brain/neuron growth, immune system, digestion) in order to escape the lion. Zebras turn off the stress response when the threat disappears — so they don’t get ulcers.

    On the other hand, we humans aren’t good at shutting down the stress response. We get stressed out by all sorts of things that are less threatening than a lion (e.g. getting cut off when driving, someone speaks badly about us at the office, political news, etc.), but our bodies still respond as if we’re trying to escape a lion. Our bodies aren’t built for chronic stress, so over time stress results in cardiovascular decay, brain degradation, ulcers, and the like.

  4. @fanau I believe that Sapolsky’s research goes something like this…

    Zebras respond to stress in life-threatening situations and for short periods of time. When chased by a lion, zebras (and humans) have evolved to shut off “non-essential” bodily functions (e.g. reproduction, brain/neuron growth, immune system, digestion) in order to escape the lion. Zebras turn off the stress response when the threat disappears — so they don’t get ulcers.

    On the other hand, we humans aren’t good at shutting down the stress response. We get stressed out by all sorts of things that are less threatening than a lion (e.g. getting cut off when driving, someone speaks badly about us at the office, political news, etc.), but our bodies still respond as if we’re trying to escape a lion. Our bodies aren’t built for chronic stress, so over time stress results in cardiovascular decay, brain degradation, ulcers, and the like.

  5. Zebras are brute dumb animals, thoughts go in and then get processed out never to return, we humans are intelligent beings, having vivid memories, so anything that upsets us, gets processed over and over, which is (somehow we think) directly linked to death. Blah blah blah.

    I bet a ladybug has even less stress than a Zebra.

    How do you even DEFINE stress? Nice little catch all to blame, some generic emotional and physical strain “mood response” as the cause for all ills. If can’t find any other underlining problem, blame some poorly-defined “chronic stress” or “Broken Heart” syndrome.

  6. Zebras are brute dumb animals, thoughts go in and then get processed out never to return, we humans are intelligent beings, having vivid memories, so anything that upsets us, gets processed over and over, which is (somehow we think) directly linked to death. Blah blah blah.

    I bet a ladybug has even less stress than a Zebra.

    How do you even DEFINE stress? Nice little catch all to blame, some generic emotional and physical strain “mood response” as the cause for all ills. If can’t find any other underlining problem, blame some poorly-defined “chronic stress” or “Broken Heart” syndrome.

  7. insightful post. Couple of comments:your whole post was in English. Why was the translation section in English?

    Sapolsky does some interesting work on stress. However I do find it disturbing Stanford would endorse his study of the quack science of anthropormorphism.

  8. insightful post. Couple of comments:your whole post was in English. Why was the translation section in English?

    Sapolsky does some interesting work on stress. However I do find it disturbing Stanford would endorse his study of the quack science of anthropormorphism.

  9. I noticed that Om, on the outset, can not hide that he is, like many of us, still addicted to the excitement (and stress) of deadlines. On little comment re video production, please mike your subjects in the future :)

  10. I noticed that Om, on the outset, can not hide that he is, like many of us, still addicted to the excitement (and stress) of deadlines. On little comment re video production, please mike your subjects in the future :)

  11. LOL! When I seen the preview frame, I thought it was a Geico caveman commercial. No offense to anyone, of course.

  12. LOL! When I seen the preview frame, I thought it was a Geico caveman commercial. No offense to anyone, of course.

  13. You know what? It’s a little stressful listening to the prof talk about stress. I automatically analyze what I might be doing wrong. =)

  14. You know what? It’s a little stressful listening to the prof talk about stress. I automatically analyze what I might be doing wrong. =)

  15. I fully support dbcsg’s asking for mikes: my un-American ears could grasp only 70-80% of the words spoken – but at least 100% of the body-language “words” :-)

    While listening to these people talk about stress with their wrist-watches and cell-phones on and advertizing their books and sites I automatically analyze what they might be doing wrong :-)
    They might just as well eliminate stress from their own lives completely (e.g. the way the ancient Greeks had been doing for about a 1000 years) – instead of studying it and talking about it.
    They could find out more about this on my website – unless they prefer going on being addicted to the stress of deadlines or propagating their fame :-)

  16. I fully support dbcsg’s asking for mikes: my un-American ears could grasp only 70-80% of the words spoken – but at least 100% of the body-language “words” :-)

    While listening to these people talk about stress with their wrist-watches and cell-phones on and advertizing their books and sites I automatically analyze what they might be doing wrong :-)
    They might just as well eliminate stress from their own lives completely (e.g. the way the ancient Greeks had been doing for about a 1000 years) – instead of studying it and talking about it.
    They could find out more about this on my website – unless they prefer going on being addicted to the stress of deadlines or propagating their fame :-)