A Stress Reliever for Students (Book Review)

Abbott, Shelby. Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress. New Growth Press, Greensboro, NC. 2019. 160 pages.

It has been said that we live in an age of anxiety. This would help explain the fad of stress balls. At my previous workplace, each employee received their own. The purpose of the stress ball is as you begin to feel stress or anxiety come upon you, grab this object and repeat the process of squeezing and releasing it with your hand until you feel less tense than when you started. While, for some, the stress ball seemed to work, others still faced the anxiety they were experiencing before. The fact is whether this particular object works or not everyone deals with stress. This is especially true for high school and college students. As they prepare and face new seasons and experiences in life, the squeeze and release of a rubber ball will not do the trick. Students need more than a fad in navigating stress, and that is exactly what campus minister Shelby Abbott puts forth in Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress.

Understanding Student Stress

As a college campus minister who has served with the ministry of Cru for many years, Shelby Abbott is well acquainted with challenges and stresses college students face. He has been there for young people as they walk into a new season of life. As a natural fit to write a book on this topic, Mr. Abbott approaches student stress by observing the pressure to find purpose, the pressure of relationships, and the pressure because of difficulty. Under these three headings are additional counsel on more specific details such as relationships both in romantic interest and in parental authority. Since not every student faces the same set of stresses, the book reminds the reader stress comes in all shapes and sizes (Abbott 2).

Transparent and Truthful Counsel

Shelby Abbott does not shy away from the complexities of anxiety either. The constant refrain that makes for the characteristic of the book is it is both honest in the struggles and hopeful in the solutions. Abbott is transparent as he opens up to readers about where he has faced stress and dealt with anxiety. The solution goes beyond fads and leads the students to see it lies in faith. This faith is founded upon Jesus Christ and is based on God’s Word. The opening pages lay out the presentation of the gospel (Abbott 4-5). The book hits on relevant themes in the life of a student with rich with counsel from God’s Word. From calling and God’s will to relationships of romantic interest and with parents, this book covers many areas where stress levels of students may flare up. In place of fear, Shelby Abbott offers more than the latest fad; he points to faith in the provision and wisdom of God. He encourages students to not only hear this truthful counsel but to heed it as well with reflection questions at the end of each chapter for application.

A Sturdier Biblical Foundation

In a culture of shaky foundations, Pressure Points is a solid work on navigating student stress with biblical counsel. That said, this solid work could have been made even sturdier with more references to Scripture in some of its counsel. One particular example comes from the section on romantic relationships. In its discussion on sex and its context for marriage, counsel is offered but in the guidance given Hebrews 13:4 is nowhere to be found. This is worth noting since Hebrews 13:4 counsels, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled”. In a chapter on this matter, it would seem most appropriate to include such a verse. (As a side note, there is a great appreciation for the author’s intentionality to speak on sexual shame while writing on purity since readers may be survivors of sexual abuse and struggle with that.) Regardless, this small critique does not reveal any cracks in an overall solid work.

A Stress Reliever for Students

If Abbott’s guide on navigating student stress is described as a solid work, then the effectiveness of the stress ball can be relayed to its squishiness. While it may work for some, it is not a firm foundation in handling stress. Rather than squeezing and releasing to relieve stress, one needs to take their cares and cast them on the One who can handle them and who cares for them. That is what Shelby Abbott’s book reminds us to do. If you a student facing anxiety and stressing out over matters of life, relationships, and hardships, then find rest in reading Pressure Points by Shelby Abbott. You will find relief as Abbott shows you where you can find your rest.

I received this book from New Growth Press in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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