We all hoped we’d be returning to normal by now as the COVID-19 pandemic slowly subsided thanks to vaccines, but, in most places, that isn't the reality. The stress that comes from dealing with rapidly changing rules and regulations is at an all-time high. In the U.S., the CDC estimates that about 1/4 of Americans are experiencing extreme stress or anxiety symptoms largely due to the pandemic.
What can we do about it? While you can't control local mask mandates, vaccines, or travel restrictions, you can control your reaction to them, and these books can help.
Joy in Every Moment: Mindful Exercises for Waking to the Wonders of Ordinary Life by Tzivia Gover
Need a quick joy boost? Start here. In this short read, you'll instantly feel happier and gain some valuable mental skills. Mindfulness expert Gover lists loads of tiny ways to add more mindfulness and fun to your day during mundane activities. You won't need to add more meditation time or long walks: Even a slight mindset shift can make a major difference.
Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping by Robert M. Sapolsky
If you've been struggling with sleepless nights, an unsettled stomach, and regular headaches, "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" is a great book to read. Stress — and then subsequent worry about that stress — is making us sicker and sicker. Biology and neurology expert Sapolsky helps readers understand how their stress is causing more harm than good. He also offers simple ways to manage stress in this easy read.
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-help That Actually Works by Dan Harris
Even pre-pandemic, Harris was suffering on-air panic attacks at Nightline before he went on a journey to figure out how he could calm his brain. If you're not a big believer in meditation, this book is the one for you: Harris starts as a skeptical journalist and finishes as a meditation convert. But even though he's committed to mindfulness now, he knows how it feels to be skeptical about the process. This is a fun, memoir-esque read that has plenty of great takeaways, and if anyone can convince you to pick up meditation, it's Harris.
Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance by Emily Fletcher
Intrigued by meditation but haven't found the right style? Fletcher's guide to Ziva Meditation — a practice that she founded — might be what finally gets you to hop on the meditation bandwagon. Not only does this book teach you how to meditate, it spends plenty of time explaining the 'why' as well. Even if you start out skeptical, by the end, you'll be in your calendar app on your phone scheduling blocks of time to meditate every day. Her methodology is ultra-simple: No fancy cushions, apps, music, crystals or props required.
Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day by Jay Shetty
In this memoir-slash-self-help book, Shetty talks about his move from stressed-out worker to modern-day monk. Essentially, Shetty says, many of us feel more stress and worry than ever because we don't have a clear purpose in life. Sure, the day-to-day worries of everyday life and the pandemic add to our stress, but if we can learn to embrace more meaning in life, we'll have less anxiety and stress overall. He also looks at overcoming negativity and ways to stop overthinking: two critical skills for 2021!
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams
When was the last time you took a walk in the woods or sat in nature for a few minutes? If you're like most people, it's probably been a while. Many of us spend all day at the computer rather than taking time to breathe some fresh air. Williams looks at how nature can actually make us happier and healthier — and decrease our stress and anxiety at the same time — in this great new book. You probably know that nature is good for you, but Williams underscores exactly how much we desperately need it.
Making Peace with the Things in Your Life: Why Your Papers, Books, Clothes, and Other Possessions Keep Overwhelming You and What to Do About It by Cindy Glovinsky
Some of us might’ve gone heavy on decluttering and organizing our homes in the early phases of lockdown, but how is your space looking now? If your apartment has shifted back into chaos or you never figured out how the dining room could double as a home office, your stress and anxiety could be partially caused by all the clutter around you. Professional organizer and psychotherapist Glovinsky is here to help with a book about how our possessions control us — and how we can take back that control.
The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron
This book, while originally written for people who found everyday life to be a bit too much, is now relevant for most of us these days. Being highly sensitive isn't a bad thing, but it does mean you're more prone to feeling overwhelmed and assaulted by changes in everyday life. Research and clinical psychologist Aron put together this manual to help highly sensitive people thrive in everyday life. If you're feeling particularly fragile lately, this book will validate your feelings, and may help you cope better.
Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath
You might be feeling a little out of control as your life is changing on a daily basis depending on case counts in your area. But there are some small choices and habits that you can tweak everyday to make your life healthier and happier. Rath's "Eat Move Sleep" highlights the basic habits that can boost your chances of living a long, healthy life. This Snapshot is a 10-minute way to feel like you have more ownership in your life. The healthier your body is, the better suited it is for managing stress. Feeling healthy on the outside also helps you shift focus to internal work like meditation.