Guest: Dr. Mary Wingo
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Dr. Mary Wingo earned a Ph.D. in Human Stress Research from The University of North Texas. She emigrated to Ecuador, in South America, her eyes were opened to the unsustainable social, economic, and political costs preventable stress causes in the modern world. Dr. Wingo’s aim is to clearly explain to the public the biological mechanisms behind the stress response, as well as its staggering costs to society.
Segment overview: Dr. Mary Wingo, Ph.D, and human stress expert, talks about the root causes of stress and the 5 major causes of stress in modern society.
Health Professional Radio – 5 Major Stressors
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us. Our guest in studio is Dr. Mary Wingo, earned her PhD in Human Stress Research from the University of North Texas, her specialty is Physiology and specifically the human physiological stress response. She’s also an author, she’s the author of The Impact of the Human Stress Response and she’s in studio today with us to talk about stress and the five major causes of stress in our modern society. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Dr. Wingo.
Dr. Mary Wingo: Thank you Neal.
N: Thank you. Stress, we’re all under stress on a constant basis, some of us have a lot more stress than others and I guess what looks like stress to a person to me doesn’t necessarily have to be a stressor to them while what they see is a very easy thing for me maybe something that I’m barely making it through. You’re here today to talk about stressors. What are some of the stressors mentioned in your book The Impact of the Human Stress Response?
W: Yes. I have a really important chapter that where I go over in modern society the five basic causes of stress, okay? And when I mean stress I’m talking about stress and all of the costs human cost, financial cost, political cost associated. So here’s let me go over this list, because it’s very interesting actually. Number one is complexity, when I mean complexity I mean complexity in how we think, okay? So like for instance as I mentioned before multi-tasking is actually very, very bad for you, I mean seriously it…
N: I thought it was a good skill to have.
W: No, it’s well I know that this is…probably will ruffle a few feathers but no it’s just a throwback to the work ethic that we’ve been taught that more is more. Well actually more is a far less because well what happens when you over-schedule, you overthink, you multitask, I mean and this is what I was trained to do I’m sure this is how you were trained in the educational system to function or …now up to a certain point okay yeah we need the brain exercise but after a certain point of stress we, the frontal lobe actually starts shutting down and what happens there is your ability to plan and strategize and follow through with actual solutions in your life, actual ways to resolve stress through strategic thinking. That starts to suffer, so…right there. Number two.
N: It’s sort a kind of a I guess an analytical shock?
W: Yeah. What happens is that you got to respect your brain as like you would like say a Lamborghini engine, okay? Especially the frontal lobe, the frontal lobe is the part of the brain, since it’s like the newest part of the brain, it is very fantastic in its abilities but it’s also very unstable and so it will just go offline for almost any type of stressor and so you’ve got to really, really protect it because it’s not just that it’s also emotional regulation. So everyone knows that when you get too stressed, you start getting really snappy, you lose your temper, you can’t think straight. Well, this is again, this is just indicative of what’s gonna be happening to your body if you keeping engaging in it. So it is I know that it’s an American… because that’s just not how we were trained but this is very, very bad, it’s very bad. Okay so number one, number two is lack of social equality, okay? So inequality so when the resources, the fat cats have the top, grab it all and all these… at the bottom are scrambling for crumbs okay that’s were…so you kind of painted the picture there for you, that sort of arrangement has been studied extensively and that causes much early deaths and a much explosion in the occurrence of stress related diseases, okay? So it is toxic and so I just kind of sort of thrown this out… and I don’t even know if this is even going in the right direction but maybe you can understand why revolutions happen because it’s instinctively when society gets very unequal, okay? People know that their lives are at stake, they may not know “Well hey my cortisol and adrenaline are so high that I’m gonna get a disease that might kill me at 55.” They may not know that but they know that their lives are at stake somehow, it’s (laughs) this is what…revolutions so lack of social equality. Number three it’s kind of related, this is loss of social capital, okay? So your social networks, friends, family, close, close networks. I live here in Ecuador and let me tell you I didn’t realize how much we in the modernized world have lost our social connections, our social capital until I saw how society worked down here and it’s just absolutely wealthy in social capital. You don’t have homeless number of people down here.
N: Is that a fact? So basically…
W: That’s a fact. (Laughs)
N: So working together in a positive way with people is enough to reduce stress in a society on that huge of a level? I mean we were here in another segments and talked about trillions of dollars being wasted simply dealing with or not dealing with the effects of stressors in our lives.
W: Yes. In fact if you really… into it, social capital replaces a lot of financial capital when employed correctly and then financial capital when it starts creeping into society automatically starts replacing social capital. So you don’t need your sister to babysit, you don’t like her anyway. “I can hire a babysitter, I’ve got money, I don’t need any help, I don’t need my brother and mother come pick me up because my car’s broken, I can call Triple A, I’ve got the money.” You see what I’m saying? Repeat this for trillions of times and we see where we’ve lost a tremendous amount and…whether it’s religious, whether it’s just social, whether it’s through especially political involvement, we have lost a tremendous amount since the 1850s.
N: Now what was different in the 1850s as opposed to what’s going on now politically, I mean politics is politics?
W: No, it’s a lot more political involvement. It’s lot like Ecuador is today because Ecuador’s been through it all, you’ve got tons of watchdogs and people it’s like if things start to go array there is like a protest and then of course the government’s a little bit of afraid of the people. So the government, “Okay, okay, okay we’ll back off.” So actually it works, it works down here, it works.
N: And with social media and the internet in conjunction with television and radio broadcasting, it seems now that as common folks are dealing with the exact same stressors as our world leaders because we hear what they’re doing and what’s going on with them instantaneously rather than having to wait for a letter or for the next day’s edition of the news.
W: It’s really funny and here’s a little…of going back to number two the inequality, now usually speaking when a hierarchy is stable, okay? The fat cat in charge has got a lower cortisol and overall lower stress reactivity than the guys at the bottom. However, it’s completely opposite when the hierarchy is unstable, so I assume that to be a leader now in almost any nation is a living hell, that it’s probably the worst job you have because you’re just not sitting pretty. I mean things are shaking under your feet and you’re the person that whose head’s gonna roll. (Laughs) So yes, so we have that. Okay so number four, number four this kind of changes so we’re sort of we’re in the psychological…the first three. Four is a little bit more geeky, it is the derangement or depletion of the human biome, so the human biome is the little critters that we have dwelling in our gut and on our skin and in all of our orifices that we have evolved with over, well over a million years or if not more and what these do, these little critters collectively act as extensions of our organ systems. So for instance synthesis of vitamins, so that’s extension of digestive system, synthesis or conjunction of signaling for immune responses, cellular growth, that is you actually the cells of your body work together with these microbial cells inorder to help you function better.
N: Is cortisol burning these critters out the same way that it kind of burns the inside of your arteries when you get upset and stressed out?
W: It acts in part but most of it is just because of exposure to various chemicals and processed food and stuff that our body… its chemicals and processes the way that we, things that we ingest that have been created in the last 56 years that we haven’t had a chance to evolve. We don’t have the enzymes, we just don’t have the mechanisms because the stuff is very, very new and so we have completely screwed up our proper flora within and on our bodies and that is causing a tremendous amount of stress, chemical stress to our organ systems. And number five, okay and this is sort of related to number four is actual chemical stress, okay? And you’ve got two types, voluntary so for instance what we were talking about a second ago, exposure to hygiene products, cleaning products, processed food, antibiotics, maybe other types of pharmaceuticals. This is all voluntary, this is just our modernized lifestyle, this is a sign in theory that you live in civilized society, okay? And then the other which is very, very creepy is involuntary exposure and this is the contamination, pollution of our soil, air and water and it is thought that this type of chemical stress results in 40% of the world’s deaths.
N: Does The Impact of the Human Stress Response address the stressors that we just talked about in much more detail and give us information on how we can prevent or control these stressors when they come? Because I mean if you’re running for political office like you said a living heal it must be but you’re still gonna do it. Is the answer just to decide not to run for political office and become a cab driver or maybe start gardening or maybe start a farm, totally change? Or how do you control the stressors that you decided to undertake in order to maybe some changes in the world?
W: Well let me tell you, let me ask you do the world leaders look like they’re functioning very well?
N: No. (Crosstalk)
W: They act like they panic, yeah they act like they’re about to fall apart. So yeah you got it right there, the hotshot of collapsing cracker box palace. So this is not fun. So I wouldn’t want to be, I mean it’s all like everyone can make their own decisions in life but my book all I wanted to do was add a vocabulary so the stuff that your grandmother always warned you about it’s actually quantify it a little bit, you actually have a book that like, okay well this is an actual risk factor and you can go through…go through in much detail all five of these causes and what you need to do in order to address these.
N: And where can our listeners get a copy of The Impact of the Human Stress Response Mary?
W: You can go to marywingo.com or you can get either a hard, a paperback or a kindle off at Amazon.
N: Great. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio with Dr. Mary Wingo discussing the top 5 stressors that each of us face on a daily basis, some of us a lot more than others but all of us certainly facing these stressors. It’s been great having you here with us today Mary.
W: Oh thank you, it is my pleasure totally.
N: Thank you. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.