Book Recommendations for Managing Stress
Here are some non-fiction books that will help you work through the causes of stress and overwhelm you’re experiencing. Each of the books provide some wonderful strategies on managing these and I hope they provide some excellent ideas on feeling more energised, organised and calm, creating capacity for the things we enjoy and shifting our focus to a more relaxed state.
Sisters Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski are the authors of Burnout, a book that’s specifically designed to help women feel less exhausted and overwhelmed. While they teach us to recognise that women tend to operate at 110%, they also show us how to manage the biological stress cycle so that your body can return to a more relaxed state, better regulate your emotions and learn how to use your own inner critic to guide you towards preventing burnout. Using helpful science and practical exercises, they navigate us to true wellness amidst the noise that we must learn to shut out. A helpful and pragmatic book on reducing and preventing burnout.
Small changes can lead to wonderful shifts in our productivity and lifestyle. This is the premise of James Clear’s Atomic Habits. Clear, a leading expert on habit-building, outlines practical strategies that help you build effective, lifelong habits and banish bad ones. Rather than blaming ourselves for negative productivity or poor lifestyle he calls upon us to look at the systems we are operating under and how to reform these to build better ones that serve our needs and goals. Easy to implement, Clear brings together ideas from neuroscience, psychology and biology to facilitate an optimum system for better habits that make it hard to go wrong. He’s also a wonderful storyteller, incorporating inspiring anecdotes from Olympians, artists, entrepreneurs, doctors and entertainers who’ve applied these techniques to become star performers.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in A Distracted World (Non-fiction) by Cal Newport
This is a book on building strategies for focus. Focus without distraction allows us to quickly build on layers of knowledge, mastering what it is that we’re studying. He details four important principles for building razor sharp focus through supportive habits and includes helpful case studies that illustrate how this works in practice.
In the modern world, we often find ourselves torn between pursuing something that provides financial security and status to pursuing something that’s meaningful and that allows us to apply our natural talents. The need and aspiration for fulfilling work is one of our era’s greatest conundrums. Integrating ideas and wisdom from sociology, psychology, history and philosophy, Roman Krznaric write a compelling guide to learning how to make fulfilling choices and discovering a working path that allows you to thrive. It’s a great read - particularly when you’re brainstorming and looking for new working avenues.
This book is one of my favourite books of all time, particularly in the way the narrative captures how we find meaning and purpose in life and develop our own inner power. The author, an Auschwitz Nazi death camp survivor, illustrates, that through suffering, we find meaning and the drive to keep us going. Our goal in life is not to attain pleasure or power but to ‘discover meaning’ and it’s the pursuit of this meaning that provides the purpose of life. Specifically, the book advocates finding meaning in three different ways: through making ourselves useful to others, through unconditionally loving others and through suffering.
Following on from the book above, Big Magic provides an incredible dose of creative inspiration that empowers readers everywhere no matter what their life path. Elizabeth Gilbert, in profound, generous detail explains the creative process and how we can all draw from our inner creative powers in ways that might surprise us. Through nurturing our curiosity, embracing our suffering and letting go, we can pursue what we love, with a fearless attitude and habits that support our creative goals. Whether we plan to write a book, produce art or simply follow our passions and aspirations, this book magically focuses us on the path to greater creativity, enjoyment and empowerment. An essential read for anyone considering a creative path.
Most people follow ‘a two-mountain-shaped’ journey. They graduate, embark on a career, hoping to thrive, enjoying both personal and financial success, becoming recognised in their field and finding personal happiness. When they finally arrive at the top of the mountain, they meet dissatisfaction – a sense that there is more to life – another mountain that focuses on helping others too, rather than this pursuit of self-centred excellence. Our commitment to other people and things might be what truly fulfils us – our commitment to a spouse and family, to a community, to a vocation and a philosophy and way of life. How to pick these out and how to integrate them might be the things that in the end satisfy us the most. This might be the key to finding something that brings you meaning and gives your purpose.
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A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I train mental health professionals, librarians, teachers as well as readers on using bibliotherapy in their own work through our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course. We also curate reading lists/personalised book prescriptions for clients based on their individual needs. This is our signature personalised reading service.
You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and A- Z of book prescriptions (covering both fiction and non-fiction). These suggest books based on your existing life situation (e.g. anxiety, job change, relationship heartache) as well as interests (e.g memoir, historical fiction, non-fiction, crime etc). There’s also a Children’s A — Z of Book Prescriptions. Feel free to check out the blog for more literary gems. There’s also a post on my personal story of how I entered the world of bibliotherapy and book curation.
In this role, I have had the opportunity to publish a book called The Happiness Mindset, and write various literary essays and pieces for newspapers and magazines. I have undertaken bibliotherapy workshops for The United Nations, various libraries in New York and corporate organisations in the UK and US. My book recommendations have featured in the Guardian, Marie Claire, NBC News, Asian Voice, New York Observer, Sydney Telegraph and various other publications. If you are a parent you might enjoy a podcast I’ve recorded with speech and language therapist Sunita Shah on Raising A Reader & Storyteller. And if you’d like to connect, email me at email@example.com or www.booktherapy.io.
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