As we retreat to the safe boundaries and sacred space of our homes in these times, we understand the value of peace and comfort. Yet while for some, this world changing event has been healing – for the mind, body and soul, for some, it has been anything but. Many have experienced the trauma of their mental health being shaken with life as we know it, having been completely (albeit temporarily!) changed. The anxiety and fear of uncertainty, depression of being confined for some. Panic attacks for fear of your loved ones, and unemployment for many.
The pandemic has made many revaluate and face their demons once again. While the stigma for mental health has been decreasing, the popularity of spirituality and “wellness” is increasing. Which is why this World Mental Health Week is more important than most to remind you that sometimes, it is okay to not be okay. Sometimes, it’s hard to be strong. Sometimes, you just have to fall apart.
Our very personal edit of these books has helped our own team through blue and difficult times, and we hope you find a silver lining and hope in them too.
5 BOOKS ON MENTAL HEALTH TO GIVE YOU HOPE
1. FIRST, WE MAKE THE BEAST BEAUTIFUL: A NEW JOURNEY THROUGH ANXIETY BY SARAH WILSON
This beautiful tale isn’t meant for everyone. It’s a hauntingly compelling and exposing account of having to live with anxiety. The captivating narrative of the author, Sarah, going through life as she recounts her lifelong battle with anxiety, is not only relatable but extremely insightful.
“This journey is what I do now. I bump along, in fits and starts, on a perpetual path to finding better ways for me and my mate, Anxiety, to get around. It’s everything I do.”
The book shares a raw honesty and an unapologetic nakedness of the author. It reads much like an anxious persons mind – some facts may not add up, backtracking, random side notes popped in. It feels like much being in your own brain, as if sometimes I was reading your own thoughts. An extremely personal reading, this book is a part memoir, part self-help book that likens to the recap of the struggles of one person who recalls their own attempts to calm their life, and bring meaning.
2. MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE BY LORI GOTTLIEB
Let’s be honest. Maybe we could all do with some therapy? Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a warm, engaging, and funny book about a therapist who sees a therapist after her boyfriend breaks up with her. So brownie points for destigmatizing the idea of going to therapy. The author breaks down the walls and gives us a peek behind closed doors into her sessions with clients as well as sessions with her own therapist, who she consults after the devastating break-up. The book is filled with compassion and humanity in a writing style that is comedic and relatable with stories that are awesome, heart-breaking, intimate and mostly, unfiltered as Lori gives us insight to 4 of her own patients.
“Doing something prompts you to do something else, replacing a vicious cycle with a virtuous one. Most big transformations come about from the hundreds of tiny, almost imperceptible, steps we take along the way.”
As a psychotherapist, in these pages Gottlieb gets to the heart of what matters in life: how do we grow, how do we change, how do we connect with each other—and how can we do it all more effectively? Session by session, you’ll find yourself rooting hard for the patients as they work through the process and somewhere find yourself drawing relatability as well as growth and strength from each page as you read along.
If you enjoy a good story, this is the book for you. Shop here.
3. LITTLE PANIC: DISPATCHES FROM AN ANXIOUS LIFE BY AMANDA STERN
Little Panic is a book for everyone who has carried some of the same fears and questions from their childhood into adulthood. But for those who do struggle with anxiety, Little Panic is a light in the desert; each chapter a magic mirror that provides a dose of therapy you didn’t know you needed. The author, Amanda, finds herself going through years through the motions and living with crippling anxiety as doctors searched for the wrong answers. Before finally, at the age of 25, she gains a name for what plagued her through most of her childhood – panic disorder.
“The landscape is always changing. Behind every new store is an old one, behind every person is an entire lineage, and inside all of us are choices we make again and again until we decide to make better ones.”
If you have a similar experience, or have children. ANYONE who has anxiety or loves someone with it should pick up this book because the truth and beauty of someone wrestling with it is felt on every page. Shop here.
4. 1000+ LITTLE THINGS HAPPY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DO DIFFERENTLY BY MARC & ANGEL CHERNOFF
Let’s be clear – this is a coffee table book. Nonetheless, over a quick cuppa, you’ll discover more wisdom in its pages than just another coffee table book. Taking it from a leisure read, to something you’ll find hard to put down. You’ll always get a new idea or perspective from the book. This is a book packed with great lists and tidbits of really solid advice, reflections, and tips for forging new futures.
“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change and become a better version of yours. Peace, strength, and direction will come to you when you manage to tune out the noisy judgments of others in an effort to better hear the soft and steady hum of your own inner strength. And once you hear it, you will realize that it’s not too late to be what you might have been.”
With this easy and applicable read, we recommend browsing through a few pages every morning as a part of your morning routine for a daily dose of positivity. Shop here.
5. THE HAPPINESS TRAP: HOW TO STOP STRUGGLING AND START LIVING BY RUSS HARRIS
In a society where everyone is constantly chasing and pursuing happiness, Russ Harris tells us otherwise in The Happiness Trap. He affirms that instead of obsessing over happiness, one must come to accept their own circumstances. The Happiness Trap explores a relatively new type of psychotherapy called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which aims to help people manage conditions like anxiety and depression using strategies focused on acceptance and mindfulness. As reviewed by a reader,
“If you are willing to read just one self-help book – this is the one. Especially if you prefer advice on how to find out what you like and why you are better off behaving in a certain way, to ‘just so’ statements about beliefs you must adopt and the way you should think-feel-behave to achieve a specific goal / way of life some guru says is best.”
ACT suggests that there is no way to eliminate pain in life, so learning to accept it and channel your energy into activities that have value to you, leaves you more prepared to live effectively and without a lot of wasted time fighting reality. The book explores a number of tools you can use to accept your experience of those things and make choices that will make you feel good long-term.
THINGS GET BETTER. HANG IN THERE. TO A HOPE, A PRAYER AND TO YOUR BELIEF. THIS LIFE IS NOT EASY. NO INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE CAN HEAL YOU — OR US. MAYBE THESE BOOKS MAY HELP FIND SOLACE AND STRENGTH IN A LIFELONG UPHILL BUT VICTORIOUS BATTLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH. IT TAKES A LIFETIME OF WORK. BUT WE’RE IN IT TOGETHER.