Book reviews: The truth about stress

The Truth About Stress
Author: Angela Patmore
Price: 12.99
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Pages: 320
ISBN: 1843542358

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If there is one thing this book will do, it will certainly make you think twice about using the word ‘stress’. It is a word we use quite casually these days, to describe everything from work-related illness to symptoms of depression.

As Angela Patmore points out, there are hundreds of definitions, and even medical organisations fail to ascribe a common meaning. As such, it is a dangerous word to use lightly.

Stress has become a very lucrative word, however. Counsellors, wellbeing clinics, therapists and advisers have popped up all over the place to help us reduce our stress. Much of the second part of the book is taken up with an indictment of this new industry, and there are times when the author seems to be getting quite heated about it all (I might once have used the word ‘stressed’, but I’d rather not).

Patmore describes how many stress therapies actually exacerbate the original condition, or simply fail to address any real issues at all. This tirade against the stress industry is perhaps a little ironic coming from someone who has made a career from writing about it, but what she has to say is enlightening.

This is a long book – I was surprised to only find myself at the start of the first chapter having already read some 35 pages of introduction, but it is worth sticking with it.

At the end of the book, there are a number of little-known and encouraging facts about stress – including a quote from the British Longevity Society: “Stress is vital to survival. If you don’t get enough, you could be doing yourself more harm than good.”

Useful?  ***
Well-written?  ** 
Practical?  **
Inspirational?  ** 
Value for money?  *** 
Overall?  ***

Reviewed by Sally Hart, director compensation and benefits, Europe and Asia, at ArvinMeritor

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