Thinking back over the past month, how many times can you remember feeling stressed, hearing someone else say they are stressed or witnessed someone close to you displaying signs of stress? My own answer to this would be, ‘many times’. I have felt stressed at work and whilst driving, people at work have said they are stressed by deadlines and work pressure and my partner has displayed signs of stress at home such as being unusually quiet, appearing deep in thought and excessively tired. Sound familiar? Then maybe a stress management handbook could be the answer.
What is Stress?
Many people have heard of the ‘fight of flight’ response to danger, this is your bodies ‘stress response’. This stress response is generally triggered by a physical event such as having to take action to avoid an accident. The body releases a cocktail of hormones and chemicals into your body such as adrenaline, cortisol and norpinephrine. These hormones and chemicals prepare your body to stay and deal with the danger ‘fight’ or remove yourself from the danger ‘flight’.
This stress response is completely normal and is what helped early man avoid dangers such as being attacked by a predator. Today the risk of being attacked by a predator is much less likely and fearing for our lives is hopefully not an everyday occurrence – so why do we feel stressed? The answer to this is generally when our bodies go into the ‘stress response’ at inappropriate situations, for example, deadlines at work, moving house, finding the money to pay the bills, sitting in traffic jams etc.
Our body senses the stress and releases that cocktail of hormones and chemicals getting our bodies ready for fight or flight. When we are in this state, blood flow is diverted to the muscles needed for ‘fight or flight’ reducing blood flow to the brain and any areas deemed unnecessary to deal with the immediate danger. This will often lead to an inability to ‘think straight’ leading to poor decisions/actions and if we stay in this stress response state for long periods can have a negative impact on our health.
Signs of Stress and its Impact on our Bodies
There are many ‘classic’ negative signs of stress and can appear as one of, or any combination of physical, emotional or behavioural symptoms. Stress will show itself first in any area where you are predisposed to have a ‘weak area’. For example if you are prone to headaches or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, these will be where negative signs of stress will first be seen. A list of other negative signs could include;
- Inability to concentrate
- Problems with memory
- Doubting yourself
- Lack of or poor judgment
- Mood swings
- Rapid heartbeat
- Changes to blood pressure
- Skin problems
- Getting lots of colds
- Changes to your sleeping pattern
- Increased use of/reliance on tobacco, alcohol and caffeine
If you are staying in a state of stress for long periods, say a week or more, then the risk of these symptoms having a serious permanent negative impact on your health is much more likely. These more serious conditions can include;
- Heart disease
- Reduce the effectiveness of your immune system
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- High blood pressure
If stress is impacting on your life and/or health you need to take action. In the next section I list my top 5 books to help deal with stress. As always, if you are suffering severe effects of stress and/or symptoms are not going away, please consult a medical professional.
My Top 5 Stress Management Books
- Change your thinking with CBT, Overcome stress, combat anxiety and improve your life; by Dr. Sarah Edelman. Available in paperback and as Kindle edition. A book with some really great practical exercises that can really help the way in which you think and deal more rationally with negative feelings. Very useful book.
- The Stress Management Workbook: a Guide to Developing Resilience (Teach Yourself. Relationships and Self Help); by Lynne Van Brakel. Available in paperback. Very clearly written, easy to read and includes some really useful exercises, interactive and goal focused worksheets.
- Stress Management: Fast Proven Treatment for Stress and Anxiety; by Sarah Wright. Available in paperback, Kindle and Audiobook. A best-seller updated for 2018, provides practical and proven techniques that are easy to implement.
- How to turn Stress on it’s Head: The Simple Truth that can change your Relationship with Work; by Dr Rani Bora. Available in paperback and Kindle edition. This book is focused more on the stresses found in the workplace but the lessons learnt are valid in all areas of our lives. Provides a simple but powerful way of understanding how the mind works. Also provides firsthand accounts of how six individuals overcame their stress, anxiety and mental distress.
Best Stress Management Book for Young People
- Getting Things Done for Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World; by David Allen, Mike Williams and Mark Wallace. Available in paperback, audio book and Kindle Edition. The social pressure faced by teenagers today is unimaginable for those of us who were teenagers twenty or more years ago. Getting Things Done is an Internationally recognized methodology and is now being focused squarely at teenagers. This edition is presented in a very visual way and provides the tools to enable its readers to flourish at school and also in everyday life.
What Do You Think?
These are my 5 top choices for Stress management handbooks.
Do you agree with my selection?
Do you have some suggestions of your own?
Please use the comments box to leave your top 5 stress management handbooks. Your suggestions will help others choose a book which could well change their lives.
Thank you for reading, I look forward to reading your comments.