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Book on Stress: The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook Review

Updated on January 27, 2018
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Anne has a BSc in Applied Psychology and qualifications in counselling, CBT & mindfulness. She teaches mindfulness workshops and courses.

A Stack of Self-Help Books
A Stack of Self-Help Books | Source

Self-help books: Help with stress

Self-help books are a multi-billion dollar industry and one can be found for just about every problem you can think of; from in-grown toenails to do-it-yourself divorce and anything in between.

But anxiety and stress related problems seems to be one of the biggest areas in which self-help books are written and one can only assume that that’s because it’s the area with the greatest demand.

I’m pretty sure that our hunter/gatherer ancestors suffered from stress. After all, hunting an animal that’s ten times your weight, such as a bison, with nothing but a pointy stick must have been pretty stressful.

In other words, humans have been suffering from stress forever, but it’s really only in the past 30-40 years that stress has become an industry as it were. And perhaps that’s because we now realise just how destructive stress can be to our physical and mental health.

The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook

Yes, self-help books can be helpful, but there are so many out there, which one do you choose?

Well top of my list has to be The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, written by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman and Matthew McKay.

This book was first published in 1980, and is currently in its sixth edition. This is an indication of just how popular and effective it is.

I first came across it during a particularly challenging and stressful time in my life and I can say without doubt that some of the exercises in there were what got me through it in one piece, mentally and physically.

A gift from me to you: A FREE Guided Mindfulness Meditation

A Serious Workbook onStress Reduction

This is a serious workbook and some of the exercises in it require determination and sometimes dedication. They can be challenging too in that they will force you to look hard at yourself and your life.

But having said that, the authors use step-by-step directions which make the exercises accessible, interesting and often even fun. And you may be amazed at some of the discoveries you make.

You don’t have to work your way right through the book and complete every exercise. It’s probably better to read chapters 1 and 2 first, which give you a good introduction to important subjects such as finding your own stressors, becoming aware of your own physical responses to stress and keeping records of you day-to-day tensions.

Then browse through the book and choose whichever exercises seem most relevant and potentially helpful to you.

This poor man looks very worried
This poor man looks very worried | Source

Worry Control

Chapter 14 of The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook is on the subject of Worry Control.

This area is of particular interest to me and indeed I have written a Hub on the subject recently.

The authors have advice on knowing the difference between rational and irrational worry and give a step-by-step in managing worry.

Interestingly, Chapter 19 deals with Nutrition, something a lot of people wouldn’t associate with stress related problems. But the authors argue that we are better able to cope with the stressors of day-to-day living if our body is healthy and of course Nutrition plays an important part in that.

This Book Covers Many More Topics

Altogether there are 21 chapters, covering such subjects as

  • Thought Stopping,
  • Time Management,
  • Physical Exercise,
  • Assertiveness,
  • Job Stress,
  • Breathing,
  • Refuting Irrational Ideas,
  • Self-Hypnosis
  • and more.

The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook was awarded The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Seal of Merit.

How to use the Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook

Each chapter in The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook tells you what you will learn in that chapter so it’s easy to find the exercises you want.

For example,

  • Chapter 5 covers the area of Meditation and you here you will learn how to use basic meditation techniques.
  • The chapter begins with some background to meditation and an explanation of the techniques.
  • There is also a reassuring paragraph early on in the chapter on intrusive thoughts and how to expect, deal with and deflect them.
  • Reference to the research behind the techniques is delivered in an interesting and engaging manner.

Martha Davis

The Authors of the Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook

Martha Davis, Ph.D,

  • a trained psychologist and psychotherapist and practiced at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Centre in Santa Clara, CA.
  • She has over thirty years experience as a psychotherapist up to her retirement. She is author and co-author of several self-help books.

Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, MSW

  • a life-coach and licensed clinical social worker.
  • She consulted for the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan up to her retirement.

Matthew McKay, Ph.D

  • a professor of clinical psychology at the Wright Institute, Berkley, CA.
  • He is also a practicing clinical psychologist. He is author and co-author of over twenty self-help books.


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