In a period of uncertainty and constant bad news, it’s tempting to hide under the duvet or hunker down with Netflix at any available chance. And while those are both valid ways to spend your time in the age of Coronavirus, it’s also important to keep up self-care during this stressful time and to try to limit any behaviours that could negatively affect your mental health, such as scrolling news updates or worrying about worst case scenarios.
If you need a little help on either of these fronts, there are many self-help books that could guide you along the way. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best and most inspiring reads for this current moment – from those that will give you the tools to tackle worry as soon as it arises and calm anxious thoughts, to others providing specific exercises that could take your mind off bad news or strengthen your relationships with others.
Just Sit: A Meditation Guidebook for People Who Know They Should But Don't, Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz
Whether you’ve been meaning to start a meditation practice for a while or never previously given it much thought, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that picking one up could have many benefits – including lower levels of stress and anxiety, better sleep and improved physical and mental health. In Just Sit, Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz explain the basics of getting started, share the science behind those benefits, and also give tips on how to maintain a regular practice. In these challenging times, even the simplest meditation ritual could be an essential item in your toolbox.
This Too Shall Pass: Stories of Change, Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings By Julia Samuel
In a moment where there is a lot of apocalyptic talk, it can be helpful to look back on past challenges and times of crisis and remember they didn’t last forever. The human race is a hardy bunch, and even when things get bad, we tend to come through the other side – hopefully having learnt something along the way. In This Too Shall Pass, psychotherapist Julia Samuel looks at how times of crisis naturally ebb and flow in all our lives, and she also provides helpful advice for coping with life’s challenges.
A Swear Word Coloring Book for Adults, Honey Badger Coloring
Remember five years ago when adult colouring was a huge trend in publishing? That craze is back, and more relevant than ever now that many of us are stuck at home and trying to find ways to spend less time scrolling the internet or getting caught up in worrying thoughts. Honey Badger’s Swear Word Coloring Book is currently the third bestselling book on Amazon, and since colouring has been proven to have the ability to calm the fear centre of our brains, this humorous take on the colouring trend seems a particularly fitting way to ease tension during lockdown.
The Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 minutes a day to less stress, more peace, Patrizia Collard
If you’re short on time, The Little Book of Mindfulness promises to bring a moment of calm with simple thought exercises that only take 5 or 10 minutes of your day, and could even be shortened to a minute or two if necessary. Coming in at under 100 pages, the book itself is a quick read but will leave you with strategies for coping with anxious moments that you will be able to use for a lifetime. If you’re in the habit of checking the news multiple times a day, try swapping one of those check ins for a moment of mindfulness and see if it improves your mood.
Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt Haig
In 2018, in the midst of seemingly endless bad news, author Matt Haig published this guide for coping with an unrelenting news-cycle and recognising its effects on our mental health – something it feels like we could do with now more than ever. Notes on a Nervous Planet takes particular aim at the internet and the always-on nature of modern life, looking at how it can increase anxiety, and provides food for thought when it comes to limiting interactions with news and social media.
What a Time to Be Alone, Chidera Eggerue
Although isolation and social distancing can be challenging, it could also be a good opportunity to connect more deeply with your own thought patterns and reflect on your relationships with others. In What a Time to be Alone, Chidera Eggerue shares tips for evaluating and taking control of your own self-worth, understanding where other people are coming from while avoiding taking on their demons, and building the confidence and tools to extricate yourself from toxic relationships.
The Worry Trick: How Your Brain Tricks You into Expecting the Worst and What You Can Do About It, David Carbonell and Stephen Paul Aulridge Jr.
If you’re finding it hard to escape feelings of worry and fear at the moment, it’s worth trying to carve out some skills that will help you observe and understand those thought patterns without judging yourself or becoming overwhelmed. The Worry Trick provides techniques based in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) that aim to help you break the cycle of worry and start observing your anxious feelings with distance and clarity.
The Comparison Cure: How to Be Less ‘Them’ and More You, Lucy Sheridan
We’re probably all spending too much time on social media at the moment, even though there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that doing so could negatively affect our mental health. If you’re particularly prone to negatively comparing your own experience to that of others, try Lucy Sheridan’s Comparison Cure. Her advice involves recognising the negative feelings that social media might bring up, changing the way you engage with your feed and putting in place any necessary boundaries, before finally working on a few strategies that will help you keep these new good habits in place.
Eight Dates: To keep your relationship happy, thriving and lasting, John and Julie Gottman
For those spending far more time than they are used to with their partner - whether in a long-term or new relationship - now is probably a good time to work on behaviours that will nurture and protect that relationship. In Eight Dates, well-respected relationship councillors John and Julie Gottman provide specific exercises and conversation starters for strengthening a romantic union, and working through these could be a nice alternative to date nights outside the home.
Craftfulness, Rosemary Davidson
In Craftfulness, Rosemary Davidson explains how and why crafting has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and suggests simple craft projects that you could try in order to soothe an anxious mind. For those who feel they don’t have the time for such projects, there are specific tips for fitting a small moment of creativity into an otherwise busy day and taking advantage of the soul-enriching benefits of making something with your hands.
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