cover image Stress Free for Good: 10 Scientifically Proven Life Skills for Health and Happiness

Stress Free for Good: 10 Scientifically Proven Life Skills for Health and Happiness

Fred Luskin, Kenneth R. Pelletier. HarperOne, $24.95 (223pp) ISBN 978-0-06-058274-6

In this clear, wise and sometimes very funny book, two expert doctors from Stanford University's School of Medicine discuss the causes and symptoms of stress, demonstrating that a life free of stress is possible without spending years on a psychiatrist's couch or on a treadmill. Describing how our bodies react under pressure, the authors explain the fight-or-flight response. Blood pressure goes up, digestion stops, breathing becomes labored, oxygen to the brain decreases and the cardiovascular system becomes inflamed. When the pressure is ongoing and unrelenting, serious illness and even death can ensue. Thirty years ago, Pelletier (Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer), a pioneer in the holistic medicine movement, underscored the mind/body connection. Now, with Luskin, a fellow researcher, he has designed a program made up of 10 easy-to-follow ""LifeSkills"" proven to promote good health, happiness and optimal performance. The doctors explain skills, such as how to belly breathe, tense and release muscles, visualize loving and successful relationships, appreciate the little things, stop doing what doesn't work, slow down, and smile. Their forthright, non-judgmental descriptions of their patients' overwrought lifestyle choices also lend humor to the book. A workaholic farmer with diabetes laughs at himself, for example, when he realizes that his previous cure for stress was two or three helpings of dessert served with a big dollop of complaining. Such behavior is typical, the authors say: most of the diversions we use to relax don't solve the core problem of stress management. ""You can relax your body in less than ten seconds and free your mind in the same amount of time,"" the book states. Halfway through, readers will be convinced that such magic is possible.