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Top 10 Stress Management Books

Updated on March 3, 2013

Although anxiety and stress are often an inevitable part of everyday life, when badly managed stress can severely impair an individual's quality of life and leave people vulnerable to mental health problems and physical ailments. As a psychologist, I am often asked to recommend the best stress management books which deal with how to cope with stress. Below I've gathered my top ten books on stress management. Each of the listed books contains stress management techniques and skills which I have seen to be effective in clients.

No doubt one of these great stress management books will put you on the right track to regaining control of destructive emotions.

The Relaxation Response

Written by Dr. Herbert Benson, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard University, The Relaxation Response is a classic in this list of stress management books. It was first published in 1975 and proved a huge breakthrough at the time, becoming an international bestseller. Just as humans experience the 'fight or flight' response Benson argues that we have an inherent 'relaxation response' which, through practice, can be invoked at times of high stress. I would recommend this book as a great all-round stress management book which easily bridges western scientific knowledge and eastern traditions.

The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook

First published in 1980, and already on its sixth edition, this workbook provides step by step techniques for calming the body and mind. Starting with an examination of the triggers and symptoms of your own experience of stress and progressing on to making your own stress reduction plan complete with guidance on techniques, this book is both comprehensive and very powerful. This Workbook is often cited on many therapeutic and clinical undergraduate and graduate courses' reading lists and is a fabulous reference to have for anyone who wants to practice stress management skills in their own time and at their own pace.

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

Based on Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this book shows you how to use natural, medically proven methods to soothe and heal your body, mind, and spirit. This is one of the more unusual stress management books as it applies ancient meditative techniques to modern living and can be a refreshing break for some from heavy clinical texts which address the topic of stress. The author is a retired medicine professor who has combined his practice of yoga and his own experience with Buddhism with techniques of modern Western medicine to help individuals who wish to better manage their own stress levels. This stress management book gives straight forward instructions on using mindfulness as a way to combat stress, pain and illness.

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

Amongst the array of best stress management books this one must be a contender for best title! Sapolsky, a Stanford University biologist, provides an entertaining explanation of how stress affects the body and what we can do to counteract its effects. The author also has a true talent for simplifying the complex, without patronizing the reader or diluting the facts. In my experience people find this book very accessible and also a genuinely good read. That said, Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers also contains a comprehensive amount of information on the mechanisms behind stress in the body and how best to manage it.

Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You

This book deserves a special mention as it is one of the few stress management books aimed at young adults from Grade 8 onwards (although in reality I think the audience age range could be stretched a little downwards or upwards). 'Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You' is appropriate and friendly in presentation. The text of the book is broken up with drawings. Although the title suggests that the book simply contains meditative methods for teens, this book contains so much more. Teens will learn how to get organized, how to say no to the things that are not important, and how something like keeping a diary can not only help you organize your thoughts, it can help you express those feelings that build up inside you. This is a fabulous and accessible resource for young people and provides them with basic skills which, if managed early in life, can help facing later stresses in life.

Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Wellbeing

This book is written as an undergraduate textbook although I feel that many more people can benefit from it. While other educational stress management books focus on heavy theory and backgrounds to clinical issues this book also offers 80 exercises that teach effective coping skills and relaxation techniques in the area of stress reduction. Additional resources are available online on the book's homepage.

Stress Management for Dummies

Most people are familiar with the 'for Dummies' range of books and this particular one is a great friendly introduction. 'Stress Management for Dummies' is a very accessible book which contains quirks such as mini-questionnaires throughout the chapters that are quick and easy to take making the book both an informative and fun read. All major areas are addressed and plenty of concrete ideas for reducing stress are given. This stress management book is very practical in its approach to stress reduction which can help individuals experiencing high levels of stress as exercises can be practiced.

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

Mindfulness has been demonstrated to effectively help us live with less stress, fear, and anxiety and to cultivate more ease, connection, and well-being in our lives. In A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, a step-by-step, eleven-week program for effective stress reduction based on the concepts in Jon Kabat-Zinn's previously described "Full Catastrophe Living" is put forward. Both authors work as teachers of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program.

Mindfulness in Plain English

If you're curious about Buddhism or meditation and their role in stress reduction this is a very interesting read. This book is probably one of the best meditation manuals for anyone who does not have a teacher to guide them. It must be emphasized that this is not a quick fix type of book. Mindfulness in Plain English teaches techniques that the reader is encouraged to practise on a daily basis in order to reap the benefits. I have found this book to be very straightforward and accessible to anyone wishing to combine eastern wisdom and western knowledge in the fight for stress management in daily life.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

'Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity' is, in essence, a whole-life-organizing system.The author is a management consultant and executive coach, and provides insights into attaining maximum efficiency and, at the same time, relaxing whenever one needs or wants to. Getting Things Done is one of those stress management books which can benefit just about anyone but, in particular, it will provide great comfort to those experiencing stress due to overwhelming activity around them. Allen says that mastering your time enables you to live in the present moment. That is the goal I would wish for most individuals I have encountered who experience destructive levels of daily stress.


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