A debut book pinpoints the myriad sources of stress in modern life and offers tips for coping with it.
Ben-Joseph identifies himself as a naturopath and healer; Lewis trained with him in manual physical therapy in the 1970s. The authors previously co-wrote a radio script, The 6 Ways Stress Can Kill You. This book’s title suggests a practical medical guide whereas the contents actually veer more toward holistic self-help. But the title does faithfully reflect the tone: familiar, even jokey, and reader-friendly—with plenty of exclamation points, phrases emphasized in boldface, and stock images to vividly illustrate the material. Initially, the problem is that the work doesn’t seem to be sure what it wants to be: readers must wade through 50 pages of florid meditations on the human condition (“For each of us, existing on this blue-white sphere called earth, the wheel of life continues its constant turn”), metaphorical thoughts on the seasons, and generic advice on nutrition and hygiene before getting to the matter at hand in Chapter 4. From here on, the authors break down the causes of stress into digestible sections on everything from moving problems to foot ailments. They helpfully list the effects of physical stress on bodily systems, but the suggestions are all too basic: for example, label your moving boxes; buy appropriate footwear; try earplugs. Chapter 8, disingenuously titled “Helpful Hints,” is nothing but a one-page plug for Ben-Joseph’s “Prime Longevity” supplement. Not until the 12th chapter do readers get the expected straightforward techniques for dealing with stress, such as visualization. This section plus the one on two- to three-minute exercises to alleviate stress are the most valuable, hands-on ones. But the dietary tips, again, seem self-explanatory, or too niche—perhaps echoing Jewish guidelines? (No pork or crustaceans, for instance.) A sex education lesson serves no obvious purpose, and there is some decidedly odd wording that detracts from the authors’ arguments, like “Monitor how many chews you perform with each mouthful” and “Why is the lure of dangerous men that attracts females.”
Some useful health advice can be found amid the plethora of suggestions.