If the Coronavirus lockdown has left you feeling anxious or depressed – or if you’re struggling with addiction or low self-confidence – and are interested in learning more about why you feel that way, self-help books could be a step in the right direction. Whether you’re a bookworm or not, now is a better time than ever to use this slower pace to read and learn, and what better thing to learn about than your own brain?
If you’re in need of an emotional and mental pick-me-up, self-help books can help you deal with the good, the bad and the ugly moments in life and understand why you feel that way. Printed versions of a catch-up with a close friend, many people accredit self-development books to helping them overcome mental health issues and living happier lives. For this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday blog post, we recommend 5 books to read to improve your mental wellbeing.
1. The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
If you’re struggling with emotions around past events, or perhaps fearing/dreading the future, this book provides the key to understanding how to free yourself. Through a question–and–answer style narrative, Eckhart Tolle explains how in the Now – i.e. this very moment – problems do not exist. We also learn how to stop identifying with our thinking minds and accept things as they truly are in the present, without getting caught up in our opinions and judgements.
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.”
Want to give it a read? Buy it here.
2. The Reality Slap – Russ Harris
This book addresses those times in life when we’re suddenly dealt a heavy dose of reality; this could be a major event such as the passing of a loved one, redundancy, or a serious threat to our physical or mental health. As Russ Harris explains, we are also at times victims of life’s ‘gentler’ slaps:
“[…] that burst of anger or resentment over some sort of mistreatment; those short, sharp shocks when we catch sight of our reflection and we don’t like what we see; those painful stabs of failure, disappointment or rejection.”
This is an excellent read if you’re looking for a way to find inner fulfilment and value while perhaps struggling with difficult circumstances. We can’t always find the answers and certainty we need in life (the current Coronavirus pandemic being an example), however, using a mindfulness-based approach called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), this book does help us navigate our problems and stresses so that we can find peace and calm even in the midst of chaos.
If you want to check this one out, you can buy it here.
3. The Chimp Paradox –Prof. Steve Peters
If you’ve ever been confused about how your mind, thoughts and emotions are working, The Chimp Paradox is a mind-management model that provides clear and effective ways to understand and improve areas of your life. The metaphor of the Chimp is used to represent the limbic (‘emotional machine’) area of the human brain that has a tendency for irrational, catastrophic, and black-and-white thinking. This book teaches us the true nature of our Chimps and how we can better manage their impulses and mood swings to live more successful lives.
“The Chimp does not use sound reasoning. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is not a good basis to work from. Thankfully there is an alternative way of thinking and we can learn to shift the blood supply in our brains in order to use this alternative. The alternative way is that of the Human.”
To find out more or buy the book, click here.
4. Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
Matt Haig’s account of the darkest time in his life – what he describes as ‘a year-long panic attack’ – isan extremely honest, memoir-style account of his struggles with depression and anxiety. Although hard-hitting at times, it is also essential reading. Narrated in bitesize, easily digestible chapters, it is comforting, poignant, humorous, and really does remind the reader that:
“Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.”
Buy the book here.
5. The Tao of Pooh – Benjamin Hoff
This could be described as a ‘guilty pleasure’ read, but offers a surprisingly insightful and shrewd view of modern living and human nature. Benjamin Hoff uses stories, adventures, and conversations with characters from A.A. Milne’s original books to show how Winnie-the-Pooh has a ‘certain Way about him’ that mirrors the ancient Chinese principles of Taoism. This book works brilliantly on two levels.Firstly, it offers advice and teachings from a philosophy dating back to 4th Century BCE on how to live in harmony with the Dao (the Way), thus dropping the struggle with life and just being. Secondly, it provides a comforting and humorous view of the many aspects of the human character, and above all is guaranteed to make you smile!
“You might say that while Rabbit’s little routine is that of Knowledge for the sake of Being Clever, and while Owl’s is that of Knowledge for the sake of Appearing Wise, Eeyore’s is Knowledge for the sake of Complaining About Something.”
“[…] no matter how he may seem to others, especially to those fooled by appearances, Pooh, the Uncarved Block, is able to accomplish what he does because he is simpleminded. As any old Taoist walking out of the woods can tell you, simpleminded does not necessarily mean stupid.”
Want to give it a read? Buy it here.
Let us know if you read any of our recommendations, and if you found these helpful. Do you know any of other books that have helped improve your mental wellbeing? Let us know over on our Facebook page.
Looking for deeper, more long term help? At krysallis our counsellors are here to help with a range of therapies and counselling support services. Our services are currently all online or over the phone, you can reach out to us here. Remember: the lockdown will end, but you don’t have to cope alone in the meantime.
We are also providing support for individuals, couples and families. We are offering 50% discount on therapy sessions for key workers. Check out more information about our coronavirus support services here.