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How to free yourself from the pressure of stress

Joyce Meyer's down to earth and practical book explores something everyone experiences

isbn9781473636125Overload: How to Unplug, Unwind and Free Yourself from the Pressure of Stress
By Joyce Meyer
ISBN: 978 1 473 636125
Hodder & Stoughton
Reviewed by Moira Kleissner

There are a great many spiritual self-help books on the shelves of Christian bookshops today. My initial reaction on lifting this volume was that it was yet another American cure-all-by-focusing-solely-on-your spiritual-health book. How wrong could I be!
Joyce Meyer runs an international Christian ministries operation based in the USA. She publishes many books, hosts TV and radio shows and runs women’s conferences across the world where she teaches people how to enjoy life in God. Her organisation also has a charitable arm among others things. A busy lady.

Reading the introduction, I was nearly put off by the gushing language. I had to remind myself that it was originally written for the American market. As you continue reading (I would leave out the introduction), the tone of the book is light and chatty, making the reader feel as if the author is sitting right beside you with a mug of coffee.

The Overload of the title is how stress affects your mental, social, emotional, health, spiritual life. Stress is part and parcel of everyone’s lives in the 21st century and no one is immune, she says, revealing that she has experienced overload herself. She analyses how some stresses are circumstantial, and some self-imposed whether you are a minister, church worker, deacon or just an ordinary Christian.
Without using jargon, problems resulting from stress are illustrated using real life stories of people who have experienced some of the difficulties, including characters from the Bible. This book is down to earth and full of useful techniques that aren’t weird and wacky, nor indeed over-spiritual.
Joyce starts by describing the physical, emotional and behavioural effects of stress, before highlighting some of the ways to de-stress. These include: seeking human support from family, friends, church and counsellors; looking at what you are doing and why, cutting out what you don’t need to do; and ensuring your diet, exercise (what suits you) are adequate.

She also highlights the importance of taking time out to relax: have a holiday; go out for a meal regularly; take a nap and not feel guilty about it; relax and watch a funny film/DVD with the family; or use different essential oils to help with relaxation. She also writes about celebrating what you have achieved rather than looking at what you haven’t, giving yourself a reward for something you have achieved, and switching off technology for a period each day.

And of course spiritual advice is shot through the book on how to find and make time for God. This is a practical book that doesn’t put changes you need to make out of reach.
I think one of my favourite bits of advice is: “Play with your dog (if you haven’t a dog, play with your neighbor’s dog)”

Moira Kleissner is an ex-primary school deputy head, a primary school librarian, a minister's wife and a storyteller

Baptist Times, 13/01/2017
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