How to Deal with Stress

Louise Ellis‐Barrett (Downsend School, Surrey, UK)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 23 May 2008




Ellis‐Barrett, L. (2008), "How to Deal with Stress", Library Review, Vol. 57 No. 5, pp. 402-403.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Sitting on my patio on a warm May afternoon reading a book on dealing with stress may seem a little ironic, yet I have now learnt that in order to deal with stress effectively addressing the issue when feeling calm and relaxed is far more productive than when in the midst of the stressful event. Being calm and relaxed promotes far more positive feelings and allows one to reflect more accurately on occasions of stress, thereby ensuring that the true nature of the stress is evaluated.

The Sunday Times “Creating Success” series moves from strength to strength with each new publication and this latest title is no exception. Written in an accessible style by two highly experienced psychologists, the blend of self‐help and expert guidance and knowledge is seamless. The book allows and encourages its reader to develop a step‐by‐step action plan for dealing with their own stress. It coaches, and most importantly provides time and space for the reader to re‐establish a position of control and take charge once again of their own life.

More often than not, stress is overlooked – at work by individuals and their managers – or at home by individuals and their families. All too often it is considered to be a part of modern life which has to be accepted without question. This attitude is both wrong and dangerous and is one of the reasons that stress has cost British industry £10 billion in absenteeism. There are also significant costs – physically to the health of the individual and financially to the health services. Palmer and Cooper believe that, by creating a personalized action plan, every individual has the opportunity to conquer stress and improve their life. They do not advocate giving up work, not moving house or not sitting exams. They argue, rightly, that in life there will always be stressful situations that cannot be ignored and there is no miracle cure for this. Rather they explain how, by dealing with such events in a more considered or structured way the unavoidable stress can be managed or reduced.

After providing a bullet‐pointed list of questions – procrastinating? irritable and snappy? easily angered? – in their introduction, Palmer and Cooper explain their aims and emphasize that this is not a book that must be read from cover to cover. Having read chapter one and gained an insight into the definition of stress, methods of balance, the locus of control and a fascinating if technical consideration of the biology of stress, the reader should then dip in and out of the book as they feel appropriate.

With 41 activities to focus the reader's management of their stress, the book is comprehensive. There are questionnaires on life stress events, stress‐inducing beliefs and behavioural assessment, among others. Combined with the guidelines on de‐activating anger and creating positive imagery, it is difficult not to feel more positive merely having read the suggestions, before even trying the activities. Palmer and Cooper strongly recommend, before reading the book that a list of up to six goals – that the reader can reasonably expect to have achieved having read the book – is collated. These provide a good focus and should be revisited after having read each chapter in order to keep on track. Before reaching and completing the final action plan there is an audit that reflects back on the reader's answers to some of the questionnaires. There are continual reminders to make notes and there is an excellent bibliography of books and websites that could be of further interest.

This book stands alone as an excellent self‐help guide. As a solo librarian, I know that I regularly encounter stressful situations that I tend to ignore rather than deal with, often attributing them to the nature of the job. I now realize, however, that stress‐busting procedures can easily be built into everyday work and leisure time. Not only will this result in a renewed feeling of freshness it will also create new challenges and motivations. If you want to combat stress in order to remain in, or return to, control of your life this book is the perfect tool. Do not leave stress management to chance: take control now!

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