Kristen Lee Costa’s RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress has just won for Best Motivational Book at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2015. Kristen, known as “Dr. Kris”, is a professor of Behavioral Sciences and Education at Northeastern University in Boston. We extend warm congratulations to Dr. Kris for her award!
Please tell us about your book . . .
RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress is a culmination of my work as a therapist, researcher and educator. Many of us make the mistake of buying into the prevailing myths that all stress is bad and we need to spend our time managing it or running as far away from it as we can. The latest research tells us something different: stress can actually serve as a motivating force, propelling us into action—especially when we engage in a process known as “self-care”. RESET provides a framework that helps readers develop a plan to cope with life’s challenging moments and prevent burnout and stress overload even in a time and place where most of us are doing some pretty major juggling and having a hard time escaping the many demands of today’s breakneck world.
Do you have any particular literary influences that have helped you develop in your genre, subject and style?
If anyone saw my library register, I may just be locked away! I am a glutton for the psychology and self-help genre, and have spent years with my nose in the books! At the same time, thousands of people have shared their story with me — in my therapy room, classroom and beyond. I’ve been really moved as I’ve seen people survive incredibly horrific circumstances, yet go on to thrive and heal in incredible ways. Humans are truly resilient.
There are many other practitioners in the health and wellness, psychology and clinical social work realms who have bravely stepped out and told not only the stories of those they were serving, but their own vulnerabilities and idiosyncrasies too. People like Thom Hartmann, John Ratey, Edward Hallowell, Kate Kelly, Peggy Ramundo, and Brené Brown are some of my favorite voices who have acknowledged what I call the “two narratives”– the fact that we all have a story of strength and struggle. I’m also a huge fan of Chip and Dan Heath, a dynamic brotherly team who wrote Made to Stick, and demonstrate excellent pedagogy—writing and teaching skills– keeping readers engaged from front to finish. There’s a super long recommended reading section at the end of RESET with other phenomenal folks who have made important contributions to this conversation.
Besides reading and writing, I can be found on the running trails and attempting tricky yoga poses in my spare time.
What inspired you to write your book, and how long did it take you to finish it?
In my work, I often get asked for recommendations for great books on topics like anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, loss, divorce, health issues, work stress, and a host of things we are all likely to face at one point or another (and sometimes all at once). In clinical terms, we have a fancy word for this…”bibliotherapy”, which means that books can be therapeutic and teach us important life skills. I believe that learning is transformative, and helps us to know we are not “the only one” experiencing angst or uncertainty. Just being able to name a process or phenomena can be incredibly powerful and lead to new insights and healing.
Even with the wealth of excellent resources out there, I worry that the word-on-the-street has too much of a pop-psychology flavor and not enough meat. Or, on the other extreme, some of the research is too hard to understand or put into action. I wanted to draw upon my 20+ years experience in mental health and education and blend in my research on burnout and stress to offer readers a practical guide that moves beyond a cookie-cutter 5-step oversimplified approach to navigating our often complex personal and professional lives.
I also worry that a lot of books are more problem or deficit focused, meaning that they spend too much time giving people labels and more to worry about. RESET emphasizes that being stressed and anxious is human, and helps us to link arms and think about our strengths and context and how to stay motivated even in the face of difficulty.
The RESET model was born within my therapy room in 2008, and after completing extensive research on burnout and stress, I buckled down and chained myself to my computer. It took me about 2 years to complete, in the middle of raising my daughter and son, working full-time and making sure I was taking my own advice and stopping to reset each day.
We’ll be back with Part Two of Dr. Kris’s highly enjoyable blog!