As we start to emerge from cocooning in our homes for all of 2020 and a good part of 2021, returning to our old lives may feel a bit off. Keeping conversations going, wearing “normal” clothes, traveling, and generally reopening, has left everyone stressed, no matter how much you’ve been looking forward to it. Good news: There's a book for every feeling. Here, we're talking about the books we're reading to stay calm, balanced, and smooth with the small talk as the world reopens.
If you're feeling stressed or anxious...
The Uncertain Sea by Bonnie Tsui
How do you deal with unprecedented fear and anxiety-induced uncertainty, especially during a pandemic? In this enlightening Scribd Original, Why We Swim author Bonnie Tsui gets back in the water, plunging into the depths to explore how one man finds comfort in deep sea diving alongside sharks. Of course, she isn't writing about why we should swim with sharks, she's using “Jaws” as a metaphor for embracing uncertainty as a part of life. Frankly, we could all use a little kickstart as we get back into the world, so take an hour and give this book a read.
Anxious Art by Yaddyra Peralta and Elina Diaz
If you need to calm down in a hurry, consider starting your day with one of the exercises Peralta and Diaz list in this journal. If you're suddenly heading back to the office and the morning commute is stressing you out, take five minutes after breakfast to do one of the doodling, breathing, or writing exercises, and set yourself up for a less stressed day — and possibly a more creative one.
Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty
If you're stressed that things are suddenly changing after they’ve fallen into a steady routine for the last year and a half, Jay Shetty's bestselling book can help you refocus. Not only does it have quick tips and mini-meditations you can do anywhere — from a meditation cushion to a public bathroom stall — the book also shares wisdom around how to focus on your work, give back to your community, and be a more thoughtful, understanding person overall. It's the perfect book to read if you've been in hermit mode for the past 15 months and you're starting to reconnect with the real world.
If you're feeling overcommitted …
Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
Achieve amazing results at work and beyond without sacrificing sleep or lapsing into other unhealthy habits. The science is in, and it says running yourself ragged won’t get you what you want. Stulberg and Magness aren't about the 4 a.m. wake-up call to fit everything in: They take a holistic approach to peak performance that integrates a healthy body nourished with sleep, good food, and movement with a "get things done" mentality. This won the best Business & Personal Development Audie.
Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance by Emily Fletcher
In this book, Fletcher presents a science-backed argument for taking time twice a day for short meditation sessions that allow you to get more done. As our lives become more hectic with expectations of time spent back in the office, time spent with family and friends, and time spent running kids to all of their programs again, it's important to carve out a few minutes throughout the day to reset and refocus. The results are surprising!
15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse
Spend more time basking in the sunshine and far less being stuck in the boardroom with these proven time-management techniques. The book is jam-packed with actionable tips to manage your time and energy so you can stay on schedule and avoid overcommitting. Step away from unimportant tasks for more bonding with family and friends. (Too busy to read a whole book? Good news: You can also manage your time even better by reading this Snapshot.)
For a refresher on how to talk to people IRL …
How to Make Small Talk by Melissa Wadsworth
If you're an introvert who's been dreading the return of parties and happy hours, Wadsworth’s book is for you. No matter what scenarios you're concerned about re-entering, this book addresses every level of chitchat, from casual conversations with neighbors to how to talk to your boss or coworkers around the water cooler again.
Conversation: 66 Easy Conversation Topics You Can Use to Talk to Anyone by Stuart Killan
Think of this as your secret weapon to avoid awkward silences. Many of the questions are more like icebreakers (i.e., "What would you do with 1,000 acres of land?") that will hopefully keep a stalled conversation flowing. It's not a serious read, exactly, but it's an easy way to get back into the conversational groove. If you're already a fabulous conversationalist but know your listening skills could use some work, read The Art of Listening by New York Times bestselling author Erich Fromm.
My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
If you’re about to take your online dating into the real world, this romantic comedy offers reminders on how to go from FaceTime to real time. At the very least, it'll make you laugh. The novel begins as a university professor makes a pact to use an online dating service to find love, and, as you might expect, crazy antics ensue. It's an easy read that reminds you you're not alone in the whacky online dating landscape.