"The aim of this book is to help you banish stress from your life and cope with the pressures of modern day living." So begins the first chapter of this self-help resource by hypnotherapist, Glenn Harrold. This is a lofty objective, which the author addresses with passion and conviction. The book includes a CD that features Harrold conducting a hypnotherapy session intended to induce mental and physical relaxation when listened to daily.
Each of the seven steps in the book deals with relationship, work, financial, and related life challenges. There is a similar structure to the chapters, first an explanation of what causes the particular stress, then examples of how we usually approach stress-reduction unsuccessfully, followed by several "de-stress" techniques. Harrold relies heavily on a few common recommendations, most notably regulated breathing, cognitive affirmation, meditation, relaxation, and a kind of "self-hypnosis." He gives the reader simple step-by-step guides for implementing these and other remedies.
Harrold advocates writing things down and to that end, he includes charts that help the reader record stress-provoking situations, coping successes, and personal life goals. I liked his emphasis on getting to the heart of interpersonal problems by documenting them and then committing to self-change.
The book does not shy away from "new age" thinking, as Harrold urges the reader to consider aromatherapy, crystals, and the purported benefits of Feng Shui, "the specific placement of objects to create a positive energy or a healthy flow off chi." These suggestions convey a "whatever works" perspective that may appeal to some readers but not those critical of "fad" solutions.
I enjoyed De-Stress Your Life in 7 Easy Steps because it is optimistic, easy to read, and benign enough that it won't harm anyone by giving foolish advice. The test for any self-help book is whether people actively learn from it and improve their lives accordingly. With an abundance of these books on the market, there certainly is a large and welcoming readership. This book is one of the better ones among the many choices.
© 2008 James K. Luiselli
James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA is a psychologist affiliated with May Institute and a private practice clinician. Among his publications are 6 books and more than 200 journal articles. He reviews books for The New England Psychologist.