I am by no means an expert in mental health and I can’t dish out worldly advice or change lives however I’ve suffered with mental health myself. However, I’ve been there and I know what it feels like so I’d like to try and pass on anything that I’ve learnt through my experiences. You may know through some of my previous blog posts that I am a big reader so when I was at my lowest points with anxiety books are one of the things that helped me through. Even if you’re not a big reader I think books can help you through tough patches, maybe even more so if you’re not an avid reader, books can definitely transport you to another place and can definitely take your mind off of other things. I thought I’d share with you some of the books that I found helpful and still do maintaining a healthy mental balance.
Hygge and Lykke by Meik Wiking
I read Hygge just over a year ago and it changed my mindset completely. My boyfriend gifted it to me quite spontaneously, that day I went to bed far too early and read it from cover and cover. I’ve dipped into it over the past year as it is just so beautiful. The concept of ‘hygge’ has become quite popular since the release of this book but in case you’re unaware hygge refers to the wonderfully well way that the Danish live and how they do so. So, light a candle and make yourself a big mug of hot chocolate, curl up under a pile of blankets and devour this book.
Lykke was quite a recent release and in keeping with tradition, my boyfriend surprised me with this also. Lykke is very uplifting and insightful. Lykke means happiness. The book is all about why the Danes are the happiest people and it is really influential in the sense that it makes you want to do the things that make the Danes the world’s happiest people. These are really easy reads, they’re pretty books and don’t require every single ounce of your concentration- they’re just wonderful. They also look absolutely gorgeous together on a shelf.
Happy, Happy:The Journal and Calm by Fearne Cotton
As soon as Happy was released in February last year I knew it was right up my street and bought it straight away. Fearne is such a positive beacon of light in today’s society and that is really evident in these three books, especially her first. Happy is all about being able to find happiness and joy in every day, especially on the days when it seems non existent. The book features Fearne’s own experiences, interviews with others (such as the gorgeous Tom Fletcher who I will one day marry) and exercises for you to fill in. This requires a bit more attention than the previous but the tasks make it that little bit more interactive and fun. I used to take Happy with me to hospital appointments, I’d sit in the waiting room reading this and it would make my mindset so much more positive when it may otherwise be in the depths of despair. It is such a beautiful book by an even more beautiful person.
If you’ve read my blog for quite a long time you’ll know that I’m a big fan of journalling. I’m also a big fan of the Happy book, hence the big paragraph above. So when I saw that Fearne was releasing Happy:The Journal, I felt like it had literally been made with me in mind. I started it straight away but life got in the way and I gave in however I restarted it on the 1st of January and have done it every day since. This is so good to dump all your thoughts down with the daily prompts that really make you think and reflect on your life. Sometimes on the things that you might otherwise not face up to. If you’re a fan of writing or are more creative, I’d highly recommend this journal to you.
Lastly from Fearne we have Calm which was only released at the end of December last year. I’m yet to read Calm from cover to cover but the jist that I’ve got from it is that it’s about letting go of stresses and finding peace and calm in life where it sometimes seems absent. The layout is very similar to Happy in the sense that there are sections about Fearne’s experiences, interviews with other people who share their experience and interactive sections for you to fill out.
Mindfulness Plain & Simple by Old Doyle
Minfulness can seem quite a daunting, confusing concept. I thought so anyway until I read this book. When I was struggling most with my anxiety I found comfort in meditation and really loved researching mindfulness. This book is your go to if you are in the same boat that I was in. Mindfulness isn’t scary or daunting, it’s essentially about destressing and finding happiness. I highly recommend this if you’re new to mindfulness and would like to know a bit more about it, especially if you struggle with anxiety.
Open by Gemma Cairney
The tagline of Open sums up the book too a tee-‘A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be’. This is the book that I wish that I had when I was a lot younger, I’d have learnt an awful lot from it. Age didn’t stop me learning from it though, even reading it aged 17 I was learning things even about myself. There is a section in this book called ‘Your Mind’ which has some amazing pages in it about mental health. As you can see I have a lot of page markers and sticky notes in it as I come back to this for advice and a boost sometimes as it’s a brilliantly lighthearted yet important book.
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Francesca Cavallo
You may have seen me rave about this book on my Instagram as I absolutely adore it and had to do a post on it. This is a very inspiring, motivating book. It is filled with 100 different stories of women who have done incredible things and led extraordinary lives. If you’re feeling down, uninspired and lack lustre, this is perfect. It’s also great because you don’t have to sit and read it from cover to cover, you could read a story a day as a little boost. This book is truly beautiful, it has gorgeous illustrations and stories which are life changing.
Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Reasons To Stay Alive is actually categorised on Amazon as a ‘Depression & Mental Health Biography’ so this fits the bill perfectly. This is a memoir about Matt’s experience with mental health but also contains so much great advice about how to make the most out of life and how to see the good in it. Early on in the book, Matt recalls his breakdown in quite a frankly honest account, so if this is something you’d find difficult to read or upsetting, this might not be the one for you. I absolutely loved this book though, it is frankly honest and I admire that about it, this is actually one of my favourite books ever.
The Little Book Of Calm by Paul Wilson
This is a cute little book that would be really great to have in your handbag or school bag as you can just pick it up and read a page whenever you feel like it. Each page has a peace if advice on it to help you feel calm. Mine is quite tatty as I used to put it in my school bag and sometimes in my handbag when I was feeling anxious. A couple of examples of some of the pages are ‘Pause Between Changes’ and ‘Disregard Small Issues’. This is one if you’re not a big reader and just need something quite to the point and lovely.
Calm by Michael Acton Smith
If you’re struggling with anxiety this is the book for you. This is the best book that I had when I was suffering with anxiety. It was a present off my Mama to help me through the GCSE exam period as when I’m under pressure at university now it affects my anxiety so when I was at high school it went sky high. This is a lovely book, you may recognise Calm from the app, which is also amazing and really great from anxiety (on a side note I may do a post about apps for your mental health). There are some lovely pages in this, I’d actually lost my copy so I’m so glad that I’ve found it now as I’ll definitely be using it again now.
Distractive Novels-Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K.Rowling
I couldn’t quite figure out what to call this category but I decided on distractive novels as I meant books that can transport you somewhere else when you read them and that you can immerse yourself in. The first book that comes to mind when I think of those types of novels is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. This isn’t for everyone so for you, just pick any book that you feel fits the bill for you. But for me it’s the first instalment in the Harry Potter series, it just transports me to Hogwarts and has so much magic and warmth in it, it’s a hug in a book for me.
Children’s Books-Matilda by Roald Dahl
There’s something so pure, innocent and magical about children’s books. I think reading books like this, especially books that you actually read as a child, takes you back to being a child and those feelings. The book that I chose for this is Matilda by Roald Dahl, any of his books would have been perfect for this category as they’re all so magical and brilliant. I always feel happy and content reading Matilda, it distracts me from my own thoughts if you get me? This may not be for you but even if you pick up a child’s picture book and flick through that, that can have the same effect.
Funny Books-Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding and The Unmumsy Mum/Diary by Sarah Turner
Lots of people say that laughter is the best medicine, not sure that’s 100% medically true but it is somewhat applicable to this. I love a book that can make me laugh, I feel like it really lifts your mood and makes you smile. The first book that came to mind when I was considering this category was the Bridget Jones’s Diary series which I absolutely loved, they are hilarious and so light hearted. The others were books that I’ve only just read which are The Unmumsy Mum and The Unmumsy Mum Diary, I’m by no means the target audience for this which I think is why I enjoyed them so much. Sarah recalls her frank and hilarious accounts of motherhood in her two books. So, if you’re a mother or not and you need a pick me up and a book to make you literally laugh out loud, I can’t recommend these enough.
Positive Fitness Books-Get Fit,Get Happy by Harry Judd and The Lean Machines:Eat Well, Move Better and Feel Awesome by John Chapman and Leon Bustin
So many people struggle with their mental health in relation to their body, diet and exercise. I myself have times when I’ve really struggled to think positively about my body and eat/exercise healthily. These two books are so great for those situations, they both speak positively and give advice, recipes and workouts. Harry’s book Get Fit, Get Happy as it says in the title makes the link between mental health and physical health which is evident throughout the book. Harry speaks brilliantly about his own experiences with body image and his advice is second to none. The Lean Machines book is a new addition to my collection, I’ve flicked through it and read the opening few pages and it is amazing. The first focus of the book is about mental health and feeling happy before going into the workouts and recipes. I’m sure there’s a lot more helpful workout/recipe books to promote a healthy relationship with exercise and food but these have a focus on mental health which is just as important, if not more.
Thank you so much for reading. I really do hope that this has helped even just one person, I hope you got some inspiration from it and that it’s helped you in anyway.
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