This interesting, easy to read, and useful book can make a great gift to a friend or colleague who leads a hectic and demanding life and who wants to 'get control.'
-- Journal of Family and Community Health (on the first edition)
Intense stress is an integral part of modern life and it seems to be getting worse. In controlled doses, stress helps individuals to think faster and perform better but left unchecked and unbalanced it leads to fatigue, helplessness and a variety of unfortunate health complications. With people working harder, anxious about job loss and the faster pace of life, stress is increasing.
The Little Book of Stress Relief is a practical book that changes the fundamental thinking and habitual lifestyle choices that contribute to heightened stress levels. There are helpful tips for making informed choices, adjusting how we think and taking the necessary steps to regain control.
Organized into 52 short chapters -- one for each week of the year -- of 2 to 3 pages in length, the book uses stories and analogies to describe specific causes of stress, and provides simple concrete things to overcome them. Easy-to-follow activities and exercises lead to the right amount of sleep, deal with procrastination and perfect the art of setting priorities. The book's layout allows readers to follow the tips in any order.
Here is a sampling of the topics in The Little Book of Stress Relief:
The Little Book of Stress Relief is a helpful, inspiring and practical guide to alleviating a big problem.
David Posen, MD, is a family physician who counsels patients on stress management. He is in demand as a speaker and trainer in stress mastery and work-life balance. Dr. Posen is the author of Staying Afloat When the Water Gets Rough and Always Change a Losing Game.
What is the one condition every doctor shares with every patient? The answer is stress. It's everywhere. Whenever people find out I'm a stress consultant (from librarians in Toronto to limo drivers in New Jersey to techies in California), they invariably say, "Boy, could I use your services!" We all know about stress from experiencing it--even suffering from it at times. What we don't all know is what to do about it. That's what this book is about. I became interested in stress in 1981. Actually, "hooked" would be more accurate. I was a family doctor, and had just received a flyer advertising a seminar in Montreal on heart disease. The topics included nutrition, exercise, stress management and sexuality (that was probably the teaser--I guess someone figured that, even at a medical meeting, sex sells!). The conference looked intriguing, and a few days off appealed to me, so I signed up. Little did I realize, when I got off the train on that sunny June afternoon, that my work life was about to change forever.
The program featured three lectures on stress management. I was riveted. The presenter was a young, funny, self-admittedly nervous psychologist--and she was fabulous! Not only was the information fascinating, but I could see how helpful it would be for my patients. Even more compelling was the fact that I could see huge potential benefits for myself. I was not the most laid-back guy in the world. And working in a high-pressure job only added to my stress. Those first presentations explained things I had been experiencing all my life, but had never previously understood. I have pursued the subjects of stress theory and stress management with a passion that has not abated in more than 30 years.
Over time, I began to appreciate the widespread impact of stress on my patients-- not only on their health and emotional well-being, but also on their energy, productivity, relationships, self-esteem and overall quality of life. I also made big progress in handling my own stress.
Evidence of stress surrounds us, from cover stories in magazines to newspaper tales of road rage; from people around us looking harried and hurried to the face looking back at us in the mirror.
Statistics bear this out. According to a 2010 Globe and Mail series on stress, Canadians experience an average of fourteen stressful episodes a week. Twenty percent of workers reported high levels of "crunch time when they feel overwhelmed by overcrowded inboxes and jammed weekly schedules." In 2008, close to two million Canadians were working more than fifty hours a week, up 23 percent from a decade earlier. Absentee rates for full-time employees increased by 21 percent in the past ten years. In the United States, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that more than 18 percent of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder each year. In his 2011 book Nerve, author Taylor Clark notes that "stress-related ailments cost the United States an estimated $300 billion per year in medical bills and lost productivity"--yes, billion with a "B." He states that, in the past ten years, anxiety has surpassed depression as the number one mental health issue in the United States. An online 2011 survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association revealed that "more than one third (36 percent) of employees report they are typically stressed out during the workday" and "20 percent report that their average daily level of stress from work is an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10 point scale." Sort of catches your attention, doesn't it?
As if the news of current stress levels isn't bad enough, an earlier research study for the Heart and Stroke Foundation in 2000 showed that only 26 percent of Canadians felt that they knew how to handle their stress well. Dr. Rob Nolan, a Foundation spokesman, said that people often cope with stress by engaging in harmful lifestyle habits. "About 75 percent of the respondents say their coping mechanisms include eating fatty comfort foods, watching TV, smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol."
It seems safe to say that stress is a huge problem in our society and that most of us are not handling it very well.
We're living in stressful times: economic upheaval: debt crises in Europe; stock market gyrations and volatility; job shortages since the 2008 market meltdown; climate change; natural and weather-related disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes; political instability and unrest; ongoing fear of international terrorism and overall uncertainty. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless. In the face of these enormous problems, one might ask how relevant it is to deal with the smaller issues of day-to-day life. Ironically, it may be more important in difficult times. I believe that the less control you have over your external environment, the more important it is to take control of your internal environment.
Aim to take control of the things you can control. These include the way you think, the way you behave and the lifestyle choices you make. If you manage these issues better, you'll have much more energy and resilience to deal with the larger, external forces that affect us all. And the good news is, you have more control than you think.
In the pages that follow, I will show you how to take more control of your life and handle stress with skill and confidence. I hope you find the journey both beneficial and enjoyable.
Is Stress a Friend or Foe? Do You Know Your Signs of Stress? Where Does Stress Come From? Internal Sources of Stress The Mind/Body Connection Factors Influencing Our Stressful Interpretations The Fascinating History of Stress Theory Unrealistic Expectations Use Your Stress Reactions Wisely The Work and Life Balancing Act The Power of Permission Where's the Pressure Coming From? Peer Pressure and Corporate Culture Setting Boundaries and Limits Saying No Sleep Caffeine Putting Your Work in Perspective How to Leave Work at Work Reclaiming Ownership of Your Time Making Time for Leisure Beliefs That Oppose Balance and Leisure Pacing and Time-Outs It's Time to Plan Your Next Vacation Burnout Dealing with Deadlines Prioritizing Tasks Delegating Communication Skills Communication Aggravation Dealing with Information Overload and Technostress Handling Home Chores Procrastination Dealing with Clutter Paper Clutter Money and Stress Trouble Making Decisions Long-Distance Worrying Closing "Open Circuits" The Art of Reframing Conversations with Yourself Thought Stopping Reframing Other People's Behavior Dealing with Difficult People Stop Giving Power to Other People Good Health--It's Your Choice How I Learned to Meditate Relaxation Techniques Outlets for Frustration Dealing with Anger Dealing with the Blues The Importance of Social Support How to Enjoy Holiday Stress Feelings That Surface During the Holiday Season New Year's Resolutions
Wrap-Up Appendix 1: How Stress Happens Appendix 2: What Is Stress? Appendix 3: What Are the Symptoms of Stress? Appendix 4: External and Internal Sources of Stress Resources Index