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Let's talk about stress this month. I imagine right now, a lot of people are stressed out over back-to-school stuff, more so in a pandemic.
Typically, parents would be preparing their kiddos to go back to school—buying new clothes, backpacks, school supplies and lunch boxes—but 2020 has really done a doozy on the process this year.
I really feel for parents, teachers, and kids right now. Are schools opening or not for in-person classes? Do parents have to figure out home school or online learning options? Will kids ever get to see their friends during the school year and have normal, kid lives again? How are teachers going to cope with all of this, too? How do administrators keep kids safe if they return to in-person classes?
It's so incredibly stressful for all involved, with decisions literally impacting life and health to come. I don't envy anyone faced with these choices.
Back-to-school stress isn't the only stress out there, but is a huge piece of the stress that I'm seeing in my circle of friends right now. Since stress is always a component of life, I thought it would be a good idea to review a book that may help.
5-Minute Stress Relief: 75 Exercises to Quiet Your Mind and Calm Your Body by Elena Welsh, PhD
I chose this book because I thought it would help people during the particularly stressful times we are encountering this year. It is written by a licensed clinical psychologist, Elena Welsh, who is based in Los Angeles, California and specializes in self-help books informed by science.
This book says it will “take the stress out of relieving stress!” Sign me up!
It offers simple activities one can do in order to reduce your stress levels, and it claims each of these will help you feel calmer within a few minutes. The book is small and portable, making it easy to travel with. It starts with the idea that stress will happen, but you can change your relationship to stress in order to shift your experience.
The book is organized in a few different parts:
Part One explains why you’re feeling stress and discusses what is physically happening in your body during stressful situations. The author discusses the parasympathetic nervous system and how stress can potentially be useful either in times of danger or in other situations that are not dangerous. She even discusses how generally happy situations, like weddings and births, can cause stress, and what a person can do about that. Causes, symptoms, and the mind-body connection are all explored in this easy-to-read section.
Part Two consists of a series of 5-minute exercises. She starts with various ways to quiet the mind—including one of my favorite techniques: listening to the sounds around you—but she lists many other ways, too. She then has a segment about writing your stress out, which of course appeals to me, since I work in the writing world. She gives several examples of writing prompts and even space to write them within the book. There is a small surprise in the book that I don’t want to spoiler too much, but you might want to have some colored pencils on hand.
For such a small book, it is extensively researched if the reference list is anything to go by, with sources primarily coming from scientific journal articles about cognitive behavior and the effects of cortisol and stress, to the effects of mindfulness and flow practices (such as tai chi, for example) on stress levels, and more. I’m impressed by this level of research, in particular. I don’t think I’ve ever seen SUCH a heavily researched work for a smaller self-help book like this one. It may be tiny, but it's mighty!
My advanced reader copy does have an error in the pagination of the table of contents, but that's not a big deal. Hopefully they fixed it in the final print run.
I think this would be a worthy addition to anyone’s toolkit if you are looking for ways to reduce your stress, particularly with 2020 going the way it has been. It addresses many kinds of stress and Elena Welsh writes in a way that is accessible to any reader and is authoritative in her knowledge. It's also easy to use the book if you want to hone in on a specific issue you'd like to address, and it's a fun read.
Get the Book
5-Minute Stress Relief: 75 Exercises to Quiet Your Mind and Calm Your Body by Elena Welsh, PhD is published by Callisto Publishers, and I acquired my copy through their advanced reader program.
You can purchase the book online at Amazon, and at the time of this writing, it is available for free with a Kindle Unlimited membership.
While I am an Amazon affiliate and appreciate any support you give by clicking on my links, I also support libraries and indie bookstores. Small businesses and libraries can always use the business, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic shut them down for a long time. If you prefer to shop local, click here to find an independent bookseller near you.
Be well! 🐝💛