Mike George,
Learn to Relax: A Practical
Guide to Easing Tension
and Conquering Stress

(Chronicle, 1998)

Stress! We all have stress to varying degrees. As Mike George points out, all stress feels the same to our bodies, and can cause serious health problems such as depression and illness -- even death if the stress is prolonged.

Learn To Relax is all about lessening that stress so that you can raise your mood and ease your tension.

George has created a book that both educates and entertains, with hand-painted images that follow along with the text, illustrating without distracting. The entire book is in a cool, bold palette, selected for its ability to relax through the use of color.

Techniques in this book vary from good to great, depending on the time and energy you wish to spend. Most of the text is practical and easy to use, but calm and friendly. I had assumed this is because frustration looms close to the surface when you are stressed, but a survey of George's other books reveals that this is just how he is -- calm, level, kind.

The book is separated into several main categories, with smaller essays below each one. There are also exercises for the stressed readers to pick and choose from -- each is independent from the others. The categories include: The Roads to Relaxation, with what stress is and how it affects you; Stillness, Breath, and Calm, about how to meditate and add sensual enhancement to your life; The Body at Rest and in Motion, about the connection between exercise and elevated mood; The Self and Relationships, which details both our personal power and our interpersonal relationships, including a section on sex that should be required reading; and finally, Mind Power, about mindfulness and thought.

Each of the chapters could be a book in and of itself, and collected, they create a powerful tool for getting a handle on both your inner and outer life.

As with any self-help book, it tends to get a little esoteric in places. Since stress is such a spirit-weary problem, many of the exercises deal with things from a spiritual perspective. Unlike other books, however, no one religion is held over your head as the "right" way to be -- it is left open to personal interpretation.

If you have stress in your life that feels overwhelming at times, this might just be the book for you. The easy-to-follow instructions and beautiful, placid illustration makes a difficult subject seem somehow easier to tackle. The advice given is solid, and can be used in a myriad situations -- giving you a tool that is worth the cover price.

[ by Elizabeth Badurina ]

Buy Learn to Relax from Amazon.com.