From Stressed to Centered

A Practical Guide to a Healthier and Happier You

By Dana A. Gionta and Dan Guerra

A Review by Dwight A. Moody

 

I took the stress test in chapter four of this book and scored 62 out of 125. That put me right square in the middle of the stress spectrum: medium stress, enough to motivate me for what needs to be done and not enough to prevent me from doing what must be done. Not bad, I’m thinking.

 

You know what? This whole book had me thinking, and writing, and answering every question, completing every inventory (such as the Guerra-Gionta Inventory in chapter four!). I confess: I don’t recall reading through such a workbook with as much anticipation and enthusiasm as this one. I didn’t fill in every blank on the exercise pages of this book…but almost!

 

You will too, as you embrace this 174-page guide to better living. It is practical, insightful, and helpful. No, I didn’t embrace every strategy they placed in these pages for my self-care, but I found enough helpful to make this a good read and a strong reference.

 

The one thing I liked most, and I didn’t discover this until the end, is how doctors Gionta and Guerra put me in charge of my own journey to a “healthier and happier” me and how they put you in charge of your own health and happiness. Not once do they respond to the multiple stresses that compromise our happiness with talk about drugs and medicine, or therapists and psychologists, or even other books to read or equipment to buy or organizations to join.

 

Their answer to what ails us is, well, us: taking charge of our own condition and taking charge of our own care. Selfcare is their solution to all the stress and so much more. Over and over again, it is caring for our selves, putting more priority on our own health and happiness, embracing our capacity to change what can be changed in order to achieve what can be achieved.

 

The first part of the book deals with stress: what causes it and how to notice it. One thing not made clear is this: the same life element or event has different effects on different people—what causes intense stress in one person will have no impact on another. Which explains why others have said to me on more than one occasion, knowing the various factors in my own life situation: “Why aren’t you depressed? Or stressed? Or worried?” How is it that some people have strength and endurance and resilience and others do not is a mystery not addressed in this practical guide to health and happiness.

 

But even then, this is a helpful book for you. It is designed for solo use, best I can tell, and it functions well to that end. Plenty of guided self-reflection that works well if you and I as readers can be frank about our selves and our situations. For instance, it directs us to write five “Personal positive attitude statements” and I did just that: “If this is the worst that happens, I am in good shape. None of this must be done today. I will feel terrific when this is over. My decade of age 70-80 will be fabulous. I have so many friends who care about me.”

 

Try it. You’ll like it…this exercise and this entire book. Especially the simple physical exercises that help us practice mindfulness and reduce tension. I did all of them in the book as I read through it, page by page. They make it clear.

 

And in the end I resolved to engage more mindfully with the type of activities that break up the routine of life, that take me to places I’ve always wanted to go, and that put me in places and with people that bring joy to my life. I suspect you will experience this book the same way I did, as a positive and practical encouragement toward being the person I want to be, the person I was born to be. Even at my age, it is not too late!