Relax at Your Stress-free Library

John Pecoraro, Assistant Director, Manhattan Public Library

Stress is everywhere in our lives. It seems that the world has grown smaller, time has grown shorter, we try to do more with less, and the stress piles up. What can we do about it? Techniques for relieving stress run the gamut from diet to yoga, from exercise to meditation. With income taxes due on April 15, it’s not surprising that April is Stress Awareness Month. Sponsored by The Health Resource Network (HRN), Stress Awareness Month is a national effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society.

If you’re feeling the pinch of stress, check out some of the titles available at the public library.  “The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-free Living,” by Amit Sood, for example, is based on the Mayo Clinic’s popular stress management program. Dr. Sood explains that it is the human mind’s instinctive restlessness and shortsightedness that causes stress. He offers insight into skills that will help you reduce the stress in your life, such as practicing gratitude, compassion, acceptance, and nurturing relationships. Visit Dr. Sood’s website at

Research has shown that stress can cause physical illness if undetected and unmanaged. In “Manage Your Stress: Overcoming Stress in the Modern World,” Joe Shrand provides readers with the psychological and physical strategies necessary to keep stress from undermining their health and happiness. Dr. Shrand’s website,, features a blog with posts concerning anger, stress, and substance abuse, along with a resource page with links to mental health organizations and publications for further reading.

Search the Web for yoga and stress relief to find thousands of sites, or checkout “Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times,” by Judith Lasater. In this book you’ll find in-depth guidance in basic relaxation poses, as well as techniques for centered breathing.  Dr. Lasater, a physical therapist and yoga instructor, includes yoga sequences for busy people, such as fifteen minute practice, and yoga at your desk. She also discusses programs for back pain, headaches, insomnia, and breathing problems.

Since stress never takes a day off, a book that offers a healthy dose of stress relief for every day of the year is just what the doctor ordered. “Past Tense: 365 Daily Tools for Putting Stress Behind You – for Good,” by Shawn Kilgarlin does just that.  This book looks at every stress-generating event imaginable and teaches you how to react with composure, avoid burnout, and live a stress-reduced life.

With the roots of stress at the very essence of life, you might think it would be impossible to get rid of.  Adrian Simon Lowe, the author of “The Stress Elimination Handbook,” has a different argument.  His handbook examines the physiological effects of stress on our bodies, and explores the importance of boosting our immune system, proper breathing, and nutrition. Physical health is the first priority in eliminating the effects of stress.

There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them, and since we can’t save time in a bottle as in Jim Croce’s memorable song, the best thing we can do is manage what time we have. “Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress: A Handbook for the Overworked, Overscheduled, and Overwhelmed,” by Rita Emmett, is an inspiring self-improvement guide to effective tips for gaining control of our overbooked lives.  The key, the author argues, is not time management but stuff management. In other words, taking control of all the “to do” stuff that leads to stress.

In her book, “Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple,” Jacquelyn Ferguson, a community counselor, creates an awareness of situations that trigger cortisol (the Fight or flight hormone) in our bodies, and teaches how to react to them. She provides self-assessment tools, and suggests stress-relieving activities especially for individuals who do not like exercise, or who feel they are stuck in a rut.

Remember this month to take the time to unwind (especially after April 15). The library is the perfect place to relax, renew, and rejuvenate with a few good books.

Posted in: Adult Services, Mercury Column, News

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