E063: Manage Toxic Stress with Dr. Sheila O. Walker

Dr. Sheila O. Walker is a researcher, scientist and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her work is focused at the Center on the Early Life Origins of Disease.

Parents who are hoping to reduce stress in your child’s life (after you understand the signs as well as the consequences)– you will really want to listen to this interview.

Don’t miss the summary of (7) mantras for you to incorporate into your daily life that will provide you with greater health and happiness. Enjoy!


Here are the mantras from the show that you can incorporate into your daily life to be healthier and happier:

Mantra #1: Nature via Nurture (not Nurture vs. Nature)

Mantra #2: Find your intrinsic motivation- because that’s where the magic is

Mantra #3: Not all stress is bad (some stress pushes you to grow)

Mantra #4:  Managing toxic stress is not rocket science– it involves basic nutrition, exercise, sleep, and a buffer in the form of a strong human connection (also mindset and meditation are very helpful!)

Mantra #5: There is power in the pause

Mantra #6: Share your emotions with your family (name it to tame it)

Mantra #7: Emotions are contagious

You will be intrigued by Dr. Sheila’s Opt Ed piece in the Washington Post:  “Toxic stress” in the classroom: How a public health approach could help

More about Dr. Sheila O. Walker:

Dr. Walker’s research examines how biological research in genetics, epigenetics, and other biological analytes (hormones, antibodies, and chemicals) can complement social research to promote healthy behavior, fortify learning environments, reduce rates of chronic disease, and optimize health outcomes throughout life. Her work is focused on the biological embedding of chronic stress (the mind-body link) and biological sensitivity to context (individual differences in reactivity to environmental factors) to enhance health and educational outcomes, with an emphasis on high-poverty families and educational contexts.  She is particularly interested in understanding how stress reactivity can be modified via natural solutions such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, mindset coaching, and meditation.  Dr. Walker’s research is also focused on understanding preconception, prenatal and early childhood origins of health and neurodevelopment, and on examining how biosocial research on adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress can be applied in a practical manner to facilitate early intervention, prevention, resilience, and enhanced quality of life.

Dr. Walker’s doctoral research in the field of Behavioral Genetics at Kings College London examined the relative influence of genes and the environment on educationally relevant behavior.  Her work focused primarily on the potential for biological data to inform and optimize individual learning outcomes by examining the respective influence of “nature” and “nurture” on academic achievement, cognitive abilities, and children’s perceptions of their classroom environments.

Dr. Walker has devoted a portion of her academic career to instructing an undergraduate course in Behavioral Genetics at Georgetown University focused on the dynamic interaction between nature and nurture in human development.  Prior to entering academia, Dr. Walker was a mutual fund Portfolio Manager in Denver, Colorado. She attended the University of Colorado on a tennis scholarship and played professional tennis in Europe after graduation.  Dr. Walker is married with three boys and lives in Washington, DC.

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