Reading to Sooth the Mind

Dr. Samantha Morel August 23rd, 2023

In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook our mental well-being. Self-help and mental health books offer a ton of knowledge and tools to help us navigate life’s challenges effectively.

If you’re looking to manage stress, improve relationships, or better understand yourself, self-help books provide a range of insights. They aren’t merely an escape from reality but a resource for personal growth and understanding.

Within the area of self-help and mental health literature, you’ll find valuable advice based on both extensive research and personal experiences.

Here are a few suggestions of mental health books that touch on all struggles you may be experiencing.

12 Helpful Books to Improve Mental Health

  1. Addressing Trauma: The Body Keeps Score

The Body Keeps the Score

Ideal for: those who want to work through and understand traumatic experiences.

This book offers insights into the profound effects of trauma, both mentally and physically. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk presents recent scientific findings, emphasizing that trauma affects more than just our minds.

Think of it as peeling back the layers of understanding. It’s like getting to know yourself – your mind and body – a whole lot better. Because when it comes to healing, knowing the ropes of trauma’s impact can be a game changer.

  1.  Addressing Anxiety: Hope and Help for Your Nerves: End Anxiety Now

Hope and Help for Your Nerves: End Anxiety Now

Ideal for: those who deal with a lot of intrusive, repetitive thoughts that can trigger anxiety and panic.

Whether it’s a tiny thought bug you can’t shoo away or a full-blown thought storm, “Hope and Help for Your Nerves” by Dr. Claire Weekes has got some cool tips and stories from her own journey. She lays out the steps to chill out and take controlIt’s more than just theory; it’s a practical guide to understanding and managing anxiety.

Remember, just because the title says “end” does not mean this book is the cure to your anxiety. It will help manage it but not stop it completely.

  1. Recovery from Addiction: The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober

Ideal for: anyone going through recovery or interested in the benefits of being sober, this book is for you.

Catherine Gray, a journalist who has faced alcohol addiction, delves into her experiences in her book. She documents her challenges with addiction, her journey to recovery, and the unexpected positives she found along the way. While Gray doesn’t claim to be a mental health professional, her honest account offers readers an authentic insight into addiction and recovery.

  1. Women survivors of relationship abuse: Healing the Trauma of Abuse: A Women’s Workbook

Healing the Trauma of Abuse: A Women’s Workbook

Ideal for: women who have experienced any type of partner abuse

Did you know that 1 in 3 women have faced some kind of abuse from a partner? That means there’s a good chance either you or someone you know has been through it.

If you’re looking for a way to heal, check out “Healing the Trauma of Abuse: A Women’s Workbook.” It’s like a roadmap for healing, helping you stand up for yourself and rebuild your confidence. Before diving in, there’s even a quiz to check if you’re ready to tackle the exercises. The book covers everything from drawing emotional lines to self-care, understanding your body, and talking things out. It’s real talk for real healing.

  1. Understanding a therapists perspective: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Ideal for: anyone who is considering going to therapy, but is nervous to talk with someone.

Lori Gottlieb’s memoir, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone,” lifts the curtain on what it’s like being on both sides of the therapy room. 

For anyone curious about therapy or seeking reassurance about the process, Gottlieb’s insights highlight the shared human journey of self-discovery and healing. It’s a reminder that even therapists, with all their training, face life’s challenges head-on, just like the rest of us. If you’ve ever thought about therapy or just need to feel less alone in your mess, this book is like a chat with a friend who totally gets it

  1. Battling burnout: Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Ideal for: Individuals frequently struggling with establishing boundaries.

Feeling fried? Emily and Amelia Nagoski have got your back. Their book “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” is all about getting a handle on stress, especially for us ladies. They chat about what burnout really feels like and spill the secrets on how to break free from the stress loop. Dive in for some solid advice and awesome strategies.

  1. Healing from emotional pain: Emotional First Aid

Emotional First Aid

Ideal for: anyone dealing with feelings of loss, trauma, guilt, low self-esteem, or other types of emotional pain

Emotional pain might not leave a visible mark it can sting. “Emotional First Aid” by Dr. Guy Winch is like a survival guide for when life throws you those emotional curveballs, from feeling rejected to dealing with guilt. Surprisingly, a lot of people deal with mental challenges, but not everyone talks about it or gets help. Allyson Timmons, a mental health pro, gives a thumbs up to the book, pointing out that Winch gets how important it is to look after our minds, just like we’d care for a scraped knee. So if your feelings are getting a bit bruised, Winch’s got some great tips to help patch things up.

  1. Understanding family trauma: It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

It Didn't Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

Ideal for: anyone looking to dig into generational trauma and how to break the cycle.

Mark Wolynn knows his stuff when it comes to inherited family trauma. His book, “It Didn’t Start With You,” dives into how traumas from way back in our family line can still affect us today, causing stuff like anxiety and even chronic pain. Alexanndra Kreps, MD, mentioned she started using Wolynn’s methods with her patients and saw amazing results. But heads up, if you’re thinking about diving into this topic, be ready for some heavy stuff. And, as always, if things get too deep it is important to talk to a mental health professional.

  1. Navigating relationships: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love

Ideal for: those looking to improve their personal relationships and form deeper connections

This book is all about the idea from John Bowlby called attachment theory. The writers, Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, break down the science and make it super relatable for anyone trying to figure out their love life.

Ever wondered why you get all anxious or distant in relationships? This book’s got some answers. Danielle Friedman, a counselor, says reading “Attached” feels like a massive “Aha!” moment. She thinks the book can really help folks understand why they feel certain ways in relationships. There are three main “relationship vibes” according to the attachment theory: anxious, avoidant, or secure. The book helps you figure out your style and gives you tips on how to handle love.

  1. Highly sensitive people: The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

Ideal for: anyone that feels deeply affected by the world around them.

Author, Elaine Aron, is one of those highly sensitive people! Being an HSP means little things can feel HUGE. Think blinding lights, super loud sounds, or even that one intense scene from a movie that sticks in your head. Some days, just juggling all the stuff on your calendar can feel like too much. And big parties? Forget it. You’re ready for a nap after chatting with just a few people.

It’s not all about being overwhelmed. Elaine says HSPs also pick up on the little awesome things most people miss. They’re like human detectors for the tiny beauties in life, and they’re super detailed and focused. The book has cool exercises, stories, and even little quizzes to help fellow HSPs navigate their sensitivity superpowers in everyday life and relationships. If you think you might be an HSP or just wanna learn more about it, this book is a solid place to start.

  1. Practicing self-love: Loving Bravely

Loving Bravely

Ideal for: anyone trying to improve their self-esteem and deepen the connection they have with themselves

True love starts with loving yourself.  Alexandra H. Solomon, PhD, dishes out 20 lessons to help you dive deep into your feels and personal growth. She’s big on this idea called relational self-awareness – basically, getting the lowdown on your relationship game. Once you get that, you’re in a way better place to love both yourself and others.

And Friedman’s two cents? Even though the book chats about finding love with others, it’s all about finding love with yourself first. This book’s your roadmap to getting there.

  1. Finding order in life: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Ideal for: anyone looking to become more productive and focused.

This book isn’t just a hit with the self-help crew; business people have been loving it for years. Since its 1989 release, it’s been a go-to for anyone trying to be their best self. Inside are tips on balancing life, being proactive, goal setting, win-win negotiation, and playing nice with others.

Covey breaks down the habits you need to cultivate if you want to rock at life. He talks about things like taking charge of your own actions, having a clear vision for your future, and finding solutions where everyone wins. Plus, he drops wisdom on understanding others and working together. If you’re feeling a bit lost or overwhelmed, Covey’s advice might be the wake-up call you need.

  1.  Bonus Book- When you need some inspiration: Mans Search for Meaning

In the gripping memoir “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor E. Frankl, a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, delves deep into the psychological challenges faced by concentration camp inmates during World War II. Drawing from his harrowing experiences, Frankl introduces his groundbreaking theory of logotherapy, positing that the primary human drive is not pleasure, but the pursuit of meaning. The book poignantly demonstrates that even in the bleakest of circumstances, individuals can find meaning in their lives and that this sense of purpose can help them overcome even the most insurmountable odds. A timeless exploration of the human spirit, Frankl’s work is a testament to the idea that the search for meaning is at the very core of our existence.

It’s clear that there’s a book out there for every kind of struggle, every type of challenge, and every unique situation. Whether you’re working through trauma, wanting to understand your family history better, or simply trying to be a better version of yourself, there’s a guide out there waiting for you. Life’s not always easy, and we all face our own battles, but these reads offer some light at the end of the tunnel. Remember, every book is a journey, and every page can be a step towards a better you. So, grab one (or a few) of these recommendations, kick back, and dive in. Remember, these are not a cure, or fix, for how you are feeling, but simply a guide with tips and tricks to improve your mental health.

Stay well,

-Dr. M

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