Book Review: The De-Stress Effect by Charlotte Watts

Book Review: The De-Stress Effect by Charlotte Watts

Excess stress isn’t healthy. We can work that out for ourselves by opening our eyes and looking around us. We see how the pressures and pace of modern life can lead to stress. We all often put ourselves under immense pressure to achieve and can end up keeping our minds and bodies in a constant state of high alert. This affects our bodies, leading to a damaging cycle and a disruption to the natural rhythms of the body.

Author Charlotte Watts has suffered from the emotional and physical effects of stress in her own life. As a practising nutritional therapist and an experienced yoga teacher, she’s worked with herself and many clients over the years, helping them to reconnect with their bodies and work out what their bodies really need. Her book The De-Stress Effect is not a theoretical work. It’s written from the author’s own experience. Charlotte Watts draws on what has worked in her own life and in the lives of those around her.

This highly practical manual combines eating, exercise and relaxation to bring balance back to the body. It includes a six-week eating plan, yoga sequences, mindfulness practices and exercise routines. The De-Stress Effect aims to do exactly that: have a de-stress effect by creating awareness in all aspects of life to help make sense of habitual responses. The reader is regularly encouraged to evaluate his or her own life and body and reactions to more fully understand what is going on. There are helpful lists, diagrams, quotes, ideas to put into practice and diagnostic exercises compiled using the principles of functional medicine.

The De-Stress Effect is written in an easy to read style, although the advice included is far from easy to put into practice. After all, it’s not going to be easy to break habits built up over a lifetime. It’s going to take time to retrain the mind and body, and may initially require some will-power. Charlotte Watts is refreshingly realistic about this. She writes with clarity, honesty and humour in an engaging and motivating manner. She makes the reader believe that change is possible. That it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of helpful suggestions to facilitate the transition to a more balanced, healthier lifestyle. There’s a sense of being in this together, not being alone. And as the positive benefits of this approach start to shine through, then the motivation builds to continue on this path. Soon, this approach does not rely on willpower alone, but on a positive response to the obvious lifestyle benefits.

Each individual is encouraged to work out what works best for them – what kind of stress suit they are wearing; when their difficult times of day are; what their particular triggers are. This is not a one-size-fits-all dogmatic approach. It recognises that we are all different and all have different lifestyles and needs to accommodate into our daily routine. For example, eating well isn’t just about what you eat but about how you eat too. This is as much of a challenge as the quality of what you’re eating. We often don’t take enough time over food – preparing or eating it – and this book offers useful suggestions as to how to build more mindfulness around food into our busy lives.

When The De-Stress Effect was placed into my hands at the Yoga Show by the author Charlotte Watts herself, it couldn’t have entered my life at a better time. I couldn’t have told you what was wrong or what I needed, but I knew that I needed something. As I started to read this book, I found myself nodding in agreement to something on almost every page. It was so insightful and made such a lot of sense. I kept thinking ‘Oh my word, that’s me!’.

Stress. I’d never really considered the effects of stress properly before. Not on my own life. But The De-Stress Effect helped me to recognise the signs of stress in my own life. My stressful relationship with food. My addiction to adrenaline highs. Those crashes that were becoming more pronounced and difficult to deal with. That sense of feeling adrift and anxious a lot of the time.

However, when you’re stressed with too much to do and feeling overwhelmingly exhausted most of the time, then taking more time and slowing down do not feel like viable options. This is where having clear guidelines to follow in the early stages proved so helpful. Charlotte Watts had done all the research and thinking so that I initially didn’t have to. For example, ‘practising mindfulness to be able to sit with the discomfort of initial cravings’ sounds all well and good, but my energy levels were so depleted that I didn’t have a clue where I was going to find the strength from. But just as I was thinking ‘How on earth,…’ there was a section on Troubleshooting: common problems and solutions. It was as if the author had read my mind. The tips given were so down to earth and doable, I began to consider ‘Maybe this will be possible’.

And so I have started out on a personal journey of recovery. Taking one step at a time. There’s so much good advice in The De-Stress Effect, I know I can’t possibly take it all in and take it all on board in one go. I’ll be dipping into this book regularly for a long while to come, I feel sure of that.

We always have a choice to change. If your current lifestyle choices have got you to the place you’re at now and you’re not happy with being in that place, then The De-Stress Effect has numerous practical suggestions to guide you back to a healthier, happier place.

Buy your copy of The De-Stress Effect here.

For more information about Charlotte Watts, visit her website here.

To read an interview with Charlotte Watts with Yogamatters, click here.

Helen Redfern

Helen Redfern is Yogamatters very own in-house writer. Living life to the full for her currently includes Yoga, Pilates, running and contemporary dance and she enjoys encouraging everyone around her to embrace the new.