Thursday, July 5, 2012

Two Books on Stress Management

I decided to do a joint post for two books since they are both on the same topic and cover, more or less, the same information.

Stress Pandemic: The Lifestyle Solution by Paul Huljich
Released: July 31, 2012
MWella Publishing
288 pages
Buy here.
Rating: 4/5

In this book, Huljich describes his own problems with serious stress that eventually led to his having a severe mental breakdown.  After rejecting doctors' prognoses of a lifetime dependence on prescription medication to deal with this issues, Huljich took matters into his own hands and devised nine (seemingly) simple steps to reducing stress.

The first three steps involve seriously shifting one's mindset by recognizing stress is a legitimate problem in one's life, making the conscious decision to do the work necessary to reduce that stress, letting go of harmful coping strategies, and putting an end to doing things that one does not have the sufficient time or desire to do.  The next four steps are more action oriented and include performing affirmations, getting adequate exercise, eating right, and getting enough sleep.  The final two steps are the maintenance steps; they involve watching one's thinking patterns to stay positive on the journey toward reduced stress and staying in the present, as well as recognizing that implementing all nine steps at once is a process and should be taken slowly and with allowance for minor setbacks.  Each step gets its own chapter, and at the end of each chapter is a short list of self-assessment questions that give readers a chance to think about how they do or can implement each step as part of a stress-free lifestyle.

The Stress Less Workbook by Jonathan S. Abramowitz, PhD
Released: August 1, 2012
Guilford Press
292 pages
Buy here.
Rating: 4.5/5

Abramowitz takes a less personal, more clinical approach to stress management in his book, and also provides a slightly more complete process to dealing with stress.  The first part of the book is full of various assessments for readers to complete as they go through the book.  Abramowitz first provides assessments on current stress: typical stress levels, symptoms of stress, causes of stress, consequences (good and bad) of stress, and basic stress management techniques.  These are all designed to help readers orient themselves in their experiences with stress before moving on to actually dealing with that stress.  The second part of the book shifts to practical steps to dealing with stress.  The major points of focus are improving communication, learning how to manage one's time, changing a variety of thinking patterns, relaxation techniques, and tips to improve overall health (diet, exercise, sleep, etc.).  The third part addresses maintenance and stress management beyond the scope of the book itself, and it focuses on dealing with stress related to work and school, family, and major life crises.

Personally, I found this book to be of more immediate use than Huljich's.  Abramowitz includes tons of helpful assessments, questions, worksheets, anecdotes, examples, and suggestions throughout.  I found it to be a bit more engaging and easier to immediately implement the strategies suggested.  However, that's not to say that Huljich's book is any less useful, given one's personal preferences.  Huljich's material is a bit more straightforward and less dense; many readers, then, may prefer it over Abramowitz's.  Huljich's nine steps are all included to a degree in Abramowitz, but Abramowitz elaborates on many more topics.  For someone looking to get an initial grip on their stress, it may be easier to focus on Huljich's nine stripped down steps than to work through all of Abramowitz's material at once.

In the end, I think the two books could be used together because they offer up much of the same helpful information, but they do it in very different ways that complement each other well.

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