Stillness Is the Key
Many people find themselves overwhelmed with the pace of present-day living. Not surprising, what with a news cycle that turns over so fast we miss half of what’s going on, social media feeds constantly updating, and capitalist expectations of fast, nonstop work. In this new book, Ryan Holiday looks at the power and necessity of slowing down. Drawing on examples from history, he charts a way for readers to find stillness, too.
The Big Activity Book for Anxious People
Jordan Reid and Erin Williams
When you’re awake late at night with spiraling worries, or when you can’t get going on work because you’re anxious, that’s when this book comes in handy. Full of centering activities, lists of soothing facts about common concerns, and mantras to memorize, this book is both useful and funny (laughter, after all, is a great stress reliever).
How to Breathe
Breathwork is the term commonly used to describe conscious, controlled breathing patterns that can help shift your focus, alter your state of mind, and calm your body. Breathwork practitioner and teacher Ashley Neese collects 25 practices she’s created for different needs, each with a desired outcome, like Letting Go, Negative Thinking, Unwind, Sleep, and more. Keep this near you, practice in times of stress, and learn to breathe.
The Second Mountain
The U.S. is a country that has always praised individualism above the might of the collective, which is ironic, really, when considering its foundation required cooperation, compromise, and community. David Brooks, a conservative New York Times columnist, returns to the idea of community in this book, where he examines the joy that can be found once we let go of purely selfish concerns and work for and with others.
Linda D. Anderson, PhD, Sonia R. Banks, PhD, and Michele L. Owens, PhD
Whether it’s knowing to tip your server or to ignore your phone while a friend is telling you something serious, there are plenty of seemingly unspoken rules that govern how we behave. Such social contracts are deeply ingrained in us when we’re brought up, and they can lead us to avoid conflict, even the productive and necessary kind. These psychologists help point them out and show us how to have more productive, open conversations.
Cannabis and CBD for Health and Wellness
Aliza Sherman and Dr. Junella Chin
If you live in one of the states where recreational and/or medical marijuana is legal but you’re trepidatious—maybe even anxious?—about trying some, this book, by a physician and a weed-for-wellness advocate, is for you. Beginning with the long history of this plant and moving toward the various ways in which THC and CBD can help mitigate anxiety, chronic pain, sleeplessness, and more, this read is the ABCs for all your weed needs.
Notes on a Nervous Planet
Matt Haig has been there—as an adult, he developed anxiety, depression, and a panic disorder. One way he sought control in the face of these mental illnesses was by trying to understand them and what might have contributed to his development of them. In his newest book, he examines how the societies we live in, full of advanced technology and capitalist systems, might be making us all unhappier, and how we can subtly change things.
The Art of the Wasted Day
Many of us don’t know how to let go of productivity and simply enjoy our mind’s internal musings, but Patricia Hampl, a lover of solitude, has gone to the other extreme. Seeking out the houses and places where famously solitary people spent their time in leisurely thought, she muses through her own life and theirs, finding richness in the surprising places her mind takes her, and she invites readers along to try it out, too.
How to Make a Plant Love You
Summer Rayne Oakes
If you’ve been yearning for some company around the house, have you considered some plant babies? Summer Rayne Oakes, who hails from the Pennsylvania countryside, arrived in Brooklyn with the firm belief that she would continue to surround herself with the lush greenery of her youth. And you can too, whether you have a green thumb or not, with this handy guide. Plants reduce stress levels, help us find mindfulness, and more.
The socially anxious will certainly identify with Matti, the hero of this quirky comic drawn and written by Finnish graphic designer Karoliina Korhonen. Finnish Nightmares explores with gentle humor and empathy the various awkward situations Matti finds himself in, from how to act in public spaces (do you share the bench or keep walking?) to how to deal with neighbors (especially when you don’t want to chat).
Not everyone is ready to do a total 180 on their lifestyle—we’ve got jobs and kids and life to grab at while we’re here, right? Still, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to take some time, even a little bit, for yourself. In these quick yet effective meditations that employ different senses and mindsets, you’ll learn how to build a practice of mindfulness into even the busiest, most anxious of lives.
Notes to Self
It’s hard to find motivation for self-care some days. If you’re looking for a practical guide to keep yourself accountable, check out this wonderful journal. With beautiful images and notes toward beginning a daily self-check-in list, this is the kind of journal that will help you actually take time to listen to and consider what you need.
A Liberated Mind
Steven C. Hayes, PhD
Ever notice how conflict or its memories, pain or its triggers, and vulnerability can cause your breath to speed up, your anxiety to spike? We fear and run from what might hurt us—even when what might hurt us is what and whom we love or care about deeply. This book shares the path Steven Hayes explored to develop flexible thinking and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), as well as ways to try it yourself.
Now Is the Way
Look, we get it. Not everyone is into self-love or some spiritual understanding of stillness. Don’t fret, because Cory Allen is here to show you that you don’t need to use the jargon or the yoga mats or the incense in order to feel present, alive, and better. In this guide, he gives you no-BS tools to live in the now and relax (flowy clothes not required).
The Nature Cure
Andreas Michalsen, MD
For eons, humans used the natural world around them to find, discover, and share cures for common ailments. Western medicine–trained MD Andreas Michalsen learned all that stuff was baloney, but over the years, he began to wonder where there was truth to the natural cures. In this book full of science and research, he returns to the earth and shares how we, too, can use the natural world around us to feel better.
At Read It Forward, we know what it’s like to overthink, to worry, to feel trapped by the unknown. Whether you’re officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or trying to handle the excess of nerves and uncertainties that have you down, we’d like to share a reading list with you. From practical guides on combating anxiety to spiritual narratives about finding calm to volumes that look at common contemporary stressors, the books below are chosen for their variety. Whatever your approach, philosophy, or ethos, we think you’ll find something here to help you cope.
Featured Image: @galinkazhi/Twenty20