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Review of "The Stress Owner's Manual"

By Ed Boenisch and C. Michele Haney
Impact Publishers, 2003
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jun 3rd 2005
The Stress Owner's Manual

The Stress Owner's Manual is a collection of quizzes, tips, and theories about stress and how to reduce stress.  It is aimed at a general reader and it contains plenty of short paragraphs and short chapters, 23 over 183 pages.  It addresses physical, biological, psychological, and social factors and treatments.  Chapters 4-9 provide "stressmaps" (quizzes) concerning people, money, work, leisure, mind, and body.  Chapters 12-17 discuss "buffers," which are ways to relax, for the same six areas of one's life.  Then chapters 18-22 go into more detail about ways to relive stress: relaxation, eating habits, physical activity, time management and avoiding burnout.

The book has a homemade feel.  For example, the stressmap quizzes are very approximate ways for readers to judge if they have serious stress in different parts of their lives.  The people stressmap has 21 questions, and you score yourself between 0 and 5 for each.  The questions include "I am a stepparent" and "I am a single parent," and if this bothers you a little, you score 1, while if it bothers you a lot, you score 5.  So the total possible score on this test is 106. If you score 21 or less, then you are doing fine, while if you score 33 or more, you are in serious need of help.  "Don't delay in taking action!" the authors urge.  So one has to be moderately bothered about 11 areas of one's life, or bothered a lot about 6 areas of one life and slightly bothered about a few others to qualify as in serious need.  Presumably just about every adult and teen reader will discover that he or she is troubled. 

Most of the book consists of list of tips to find calm in one's life.  Avoid overtime, cut telephone small talk, reduce the noise level of one's work area, nurture a friendship, plan vacations, meditate, give up TV, try biofeedback.  They all seem like good ideas, but nothing is explained in much detail, and personally I very soon find myself skipping pages and chapters because they do not contain any insightful information.  One will have heard very similar ideas from watching morning TV shows or reading magazines, and this book gives about the same level of detail as those sources.

If you are looking for a collection of ideas about stress set out in fairly logical order, and you really have no idea where to start in reducing stress, then this book could be helpful as a starting point.  If, on the other hand, you have tried reducing stress before and haven't really succeeded, and you are looking for something to really turn around your life in a profound way, then you should look elsewhere.


© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved. 


Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.

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