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Modern life is undeniably stressful. Modern families and dads work longer hours for less pay to help cover exorbitant and rising costs of child care and colleges. Dads work to earn enough to buy middle-class homes that don’t exist anymore, in good neighborhoods that they can’t afford. It’s hard to feel in control when it’s clear that most of us have no control over our surroundings at all. Work is stressful. Parenting is stressful. Politics are stressful. Being on the Internet is stressful. The list goes on. There’s no way that one man can change that in a day. But many men just want to be able to relax after a long day’s work or go to sleep at night without worries swimming through their head. Here are eight stress management books to help men do just that.
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Third Edition by Robert Zapolsky
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers is not new on the self-help block. In fact, the third edition of it, which was published 15 years ago, has been a consistent bestseller since its publication. But the book still tops charts, and for a good reason: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers doesn’t just focus on the mental effects of stress and how to deal with it, but it also makes an explicit connection between stress itself and how that stress can manifest itself into physical symptoms like ulcerative colitis or heart disease. With all that in mind, the need for men to get serious about stress management is more about having a better emotional life — it’s also about keeping healthy. It’s an essential read.
Rewire Your Mind: Stop Overthinking. Reduce Anxiety and Worrying. Control Your Thoughts to Make Better Decisions, by Steven Schuster
Oftentimes, constant stress is less about the actual circumstances you’re going through and more about the self-created — and debilitating — expectations you’ve put on yourself. This book asks you to define what stressors in your life are because you have unrealistic expectations of yourself and are not kind to yourself when you fail to meet them, not because you’re meeting a deadline or your kid got into a fight at school. It also provides you with the scientific information you need to understand why your first reaction to stressors is to freak out, and how you can stop the cycle before it begins.
10 Percent Happier: How I Tamed The Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story, by Dan Harris
Dan Harris’ book on stress and anxiety management comes from personal experience: Harris’s anxiety and stress had become so unmanageable that he had a panic attack on national live television. After that event, he realized he needed to make some huge changes about his attitude toward life. It turns out the thing that drove him — the hyper-competitive nature in business that he had always had — also made it impossible for him to take a break and make time for himself, an essential way to prevent burnout. In the book, Harris talks about his journey towards (and the science behind) meditation, a stress-relieving technique he thought would either be useless or inaccessible. But he found that his research on meditation changed his life.
Stress-Proof: The Scientific Solution to Protect Your Brain and Body– and Be More Resilient Every Day, by Dr. Mithu Storoni
Stress-Proof does not lie to you. There is no version of your life where you won’t encounter stressful situations or tough times. What the book does arm you with the tools to deal with those stressful situations with more resiliency, and without letting the stress overtake your whole mindset and derail your physical and mental health. It’s a book that explains the problem and then gives you the tools to deal with the problem beyond meditating. Tools like exercise, food, music, and motivation can all be wielded to deal with daily stress — and combat the health conditions that come with it. Every chapter in the book addresses a different trigger of stress and how to minimize the changes that come from those stress triggers. It’s the ultimate-users-guide.
Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking, by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport
Sometimes stress can go beyond a constant, low-level hum and move into the completely overwhelming. What do you do when you are so overwhelmed by stress that you struggle to complete basic tasks and get through your day? This book aims to give you solid advice to calm down, take a deep breath, and help reframe the thoughts that are leading to your feedback loop of stress and anxiety. The world won’t change when you read this book, but your responses to the world, and what you prioritize in your life, might.
Stress Relief for the Anxious Mind: Practical Advice to De-Stress Your Life in 5 Minutes a Day, by Lauren Ryan
Being so stressed that you feel out of control, overwhelmed, or even angry at your circumstances is not a sustainable mode of being. But add being busy on top of all those problems and it’s hard to find the time to help yourself. This book provides short, brief tips that help you manage your stress quickly without going to long therapy sessions or working hard at nailing meditation. It includes techniques to avoid what you know will be stressful situations, strategies for making home, work, and school less stressful, and tips for recognizing the things that you already do in your life that help you destress and focus more positively on them. Other tips include stress-relieving exercises that take less than a minute and ways to improve your bed-time routine so that stress doesn’t affect your quality of sleep, among many, many others. Sounds like some pretty practical stuff!
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, by Dr. John Kabat-Zinn
Dr. Kabat-Zinn knows a little bit about managing stress: he’s the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the Medical Center at the University of Massachusetts, a pioneering program which helps sick patients deal with the stress of being ill. For those who are interested in learning about mindfulness and being present, this book helps the ultra-stressed stay in the moment and stop worrying about everything else going on. This book makes mindfulness techniques often seen in practices like meditation and utilizing them in all facets of real life (like while cleaning the house or driving to work) seem more approachable. Because life will always be stressful, and the vast majority of life is out of our hands and control, this is the type of book that helps you control the only thing you can: the way you react to your circumstances, not the circumstances themselves.
Our reactions to stressful situations can be so immediate that they seem to happen without a conscious thought. If something goes wrong, the voice in your head that catastrophizes the situation or immediately thinks of the worst-case scenario begins to take over and, before you know it, you might be losing your shit. But what if you could stop that thought process — that voice in your head — before it began? This book, another oldie but goodie published in paperback in 2003 by Rick Carson, calls that negative voice in your head your ‘Gremlin.’ It’s been a best-seller since it was initially released for a good reason: it provides actionable advice to help you recognize when you’re harming yourself with the quality of your thoughts.
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