Stress, Stress, Stress, Stress World
by Svetlana Grobman, Reference Librarian
Originally published by Columbia Daily Tribune.
There’s a certain uneasiness about the month of April. Some days the spring sun caresses us with its gentle warmth and a light wind propels us to nurseries to buy plants and flowers. But then, just as we start organizing our flower beds, a cold spell sweeps in, killing the flowers and crushing our hopes for an early summer. And, if that is not bad enough, the deadline for submitting our tax returns is also today! No wonder some people feel blue in April, which might be a reason for its designation as Stress Awareness Month.
According to a 2006 Mental Health America survey, our major stressors are finances (about 48 percent), health issues (more than 34 percent) and employment problems (32 percent). “Is Work Killing You?” by David Posen (Anansi, 2013) addresses the latter issue. Posen identifies the three biggest work stressors and shows their negative effects on individuals and companies. The author discusses the side effects of multitasking, long working hours, office politics, bad bosses and more. On the whole, unlike books that promote individual changes, Posen’s work presents a case for changes in corporate culture.
“One Nation Under Stress” by Dana Backer (Oxford University Press, 2013) delves into the very idea of stress and, especially, stress in women. Backer argues that balancing a career and domestic life shouldn’t be viewed as a “women’s problem.” According to her—and contrary to the media and professional wellness experts, who claim that women can do it all if they just learn how to manage stress—women can’t do it all. She states that “domestic care is both men’s and women’s work,” and she calls for business and the government to reflect this fact in their policies.
“When Someone You Love Suffers From Posttraumatic Stress: What to Expect and What You Can Do” by Claudia Zayfert and Jason DeViva (Guilford Press, 2011) is written for those who care for a loved one with PTSD. The book describes various types of trauma—sexual assault, serious accidents, natural and human-made disasters, combat and more—and their effects on survivors and those around them. The authors then present a list of actions the victims and their loved ones can take and the positive changes that can occur. Life stories, additional resources and references make this work especially useful.
We all experience stress at one time or another, but raising children makes us especially susceptible. If you are a parent who is tired of fighting with your kids about school and discipline issues, Susan Stiffelman’s book “Parenting Without Power Struggles” (Atria, 2012) is your prescription to a less stressful life. Here, you’ll learn how to keep your cool when your children push your buttons or talk back; transform frustration and aggression into adaptation and cooperation; and nourish deep attachments between you and your kids.
When faced with stress, 37 percent of people—42 percent of women—turn to eating. So, it’s not surprising that Elizabeth Berg’s story collection about women is called “The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted” (Random House, 2008). The situations Berg describes in her book are familiar to all of us: visiting families, dieting, falling in love, aging and getting divorced. The author is kind to her characters, and their stories—sometimes sad, sometimes funny—come across as very real, heartfelt and honest, reminding us how unpredictable life can be.
If fitness and a little humor help you reduce stress, don’t miss “Drop Dead Healthy”by A. J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster, 2012). Jacobs, a man constantly on a quest (author of “The Guinea Pig Diaries,” S&S, 2009; “The Year of Living Biblically,” S&S, 2007 and “The Know-It-All,” S&S, 2004), sets out to become as healthy as possible. He follows a variety of fitness regimes; runs bare-chested through Central Park; eats from small plates; takes part in the slow fitness movement; experiments with Nature’s Platform, a metal stand for squatting on top of a toilet; and more. In the end, though, Jacobs gives his readers simple advice: eat less, move more and try to avoid pollution.
On top of that, we recommend you consider these 10 tips from Mental Health America:
- Connect with others
- Stay positive
- Get physically active
- Help others
- Get enough sleep
- Create joy and satisfaction
- Eat well
- Take care of your spirit
- Deal better with hard times
- Get professional help if you need it