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Personal Stress Management: Surviving to Thriving, 1st Edition
Don’t be a Stress Head! Manage the pressures of college life with PERSONAL STRESS MANAGEMENT: FROM SURVIVING TO THRIVING. This book equips you with the insights and skills you need to conquer the demands ahead, and give you relief when stress levels rise. Written by health and psychology experts, this book delivers specific strategies for tackling common campus stressors, including academics, time management, and relationship issues. You’ll learn helpful, easy strategies for changing your perspective and responding to stress with confidence and resilience, empowering you to manage even the most difficult situations and come out on top–in the classroom, in the workplace, and in life. PERSONAL STRESS MANAGEMENT: FROM SURVIVING TO THRIVING engages you with practical tools you can use immediately, incorporating the latest insights from neuroscience, exercise physiology, nutrition, and medicine, while highlighting healthy habits like regular exercise and good nutrition to prevent burnout.
To the Student
However old you are, wherever you came from, whatever your goals, the only sure thing in your life is stress. Don’t assume that’s all bad. Although you may have thought of it as an enemy to avoid whenever possible, stress isn’t innately and invariably dangerous. In fact, it is an unavoidable part of life.
There is no magic, no hidden secret to dealing with stress. There are, however, techniques and tools that can empower you to approach stress as a challenge rather than a threat. You will discover and master them in Personal Stress Management. You will see how stress can serve as a catalyst for developing greater strength and even greater wisdom. You will discover that stress, rather than breeding anxiety or
aggression, can foster caring and compassion. You will learn how stress can lead to greater meaning and sense of purpose and strengthen human connections. Although you can never avoid or eliminate difficulties and disappointments, you can change the way you think about them. This is the key to changing the way you respond to stress—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
A key premise of this book is that stress is always personal. The very same experience—whether it be auditioning for a dance video, zip-lining, or studying abroad—might seem thrilling to one person and terrifying to another. No one has your unique mix of values and vulnerabilities, genetic predispositions and childhood experiences, social support and individual aptitudes. That’s why learning about stress begins with learning about yourself. You—and only you—can transform your thinking, which in turn can transform your feelings, your behaviors, and your responses to stress.
Personal Stress Management, based on decades of scientific research and clinical practice, presents a positive, proactive, research-based view of stress—not as an ordeal to survive, but as an opportunity to thrive. As you will discover, this book— like this class—is different in one critical way: Your other courses prepare you for further academic pursuits and a future career; Personal Stress Management prepares you for life.
To the Instructor
Your students know about stress. They live with it every day, whether they’re cramming for a final, figuring out how to live on a budget, juggling a part-time job, or dealing with a difficult roommate. Today’s undergraduates report greater stress and more sources of stress than students did twenty years ago, and higher percentages say they frequently feel overwhelmed.
As the author of An Invitation to Health, the leading college health textbook, I have always considered the ability to cope with stress a key determinant of student health.
Managing stress, like maintaining good health, is one of the most important lessons students can learn in college. This is the reason I wanted to write a textbook on stress management. I collaborated on this project with my daughter, Julia Hales, who has a graduate degree in psychology and extensive experience in counseling clients of all ages. She adapted therapy-based techniques into practical strategies and skills that students can apply immediately in their daily lives.
Personal Stress Management presents a positive, proactive, evidence-based approach. Although we discuss the negative effects of excess stress, we take a new perspective. As we see it, stress can be an opportunity for learning and growth that enables individuals to thrive—that is, to function at a higher level both psychologically and physically, build mental toughness, clarify values, enrich relationships, and deepen appreciation for life.
Among the features that set Personal Stress Management apart from existing texts are:
● Student Focus. An entire section examines students under stress in their classrooms and in their roles as friends, roommates, partners, parents, employees, and members of larger communities. Three chapters address concerns such as academic and test stress; first-year, first-generation, and community college challenges; time management; financial issues; social networking; sex on campus; and relationships (virtual and actual).
● Diversity and Stress. Gender, race, ethnicity, and culture have an enormous impact on stress and its effects on individuals and families. An Asian-American, a Hispanic, a Caucasian, and an African- American student may experience a similar situation as extremely to slightly to not at all stressful. Understanding such differences, we believe, can provide students with insight into themselves and their classmates.
● Stress and Health. Personal Stress Management reports on the most recent stress-related findings from psychoneuroimmunology, neuroscience, exercise physiology, nutrition, and medicine. While other texts emphasize stress and disease, we provide substantive coverage of how healthy habits, such as regular exercise, better sleep habits, and good nutrition, defend against stress and prevent burnout.
● The Psychology of Stress. We explore the relationship of stress to anxiety, depression, unhealthy risk-taking, and traumatic experiences (reported by the majority of undergraduates). We also highlight the contributions of positive psychology, including insights on the “stress paradox” (the observation that a certain degree of stress, rather than low or no stress, is linked to greater life satisfaction) and the
impact of a “stress-is-enhancing” versus a “stress-is-debilitating’ mindset. As part of our integrated mind-body-spirit approach, we report on the role of spirituality and related practices as well as the contributions of happiness, gratitude, and resilience.
Personal Change. The most constant stressor in life is change, yet other texts provide minimal, if any, coverage of scientific research on the subject. Personal Stress Management devotes a chapter to the ground-breaking transtheoretical model of change and the stages of behavioral change. In addition, within each chapter, we translate theory and research into practical stress management “tools” that students can implement and evaluate. By choosing those they find most useful, they can assemble their own customized “Personal Stress Management Toolkit” by the end of the term.
A class in stress management can and should be transformational. Unlike instruction that presents only factual information, teaching students about stress provides a unique opportunity to share knowledge in ways that promote both learning and personal growth. We created Personal Stress Management as a tool for you to use to equip students with the insights and skills that will help them now and, in the years, to come.
We are excited by the opportunity to work with you to engage students in a dynamic new approach to managing stress. We welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you.