This week marks ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ here in the UK, and as I suffer myself with my mental health, this is a subject dear to my heart – and mind.
There’s so many resources out there, and I want to share the ones that have helped me, but for this post I want to focus on books.
I read general fiction, delve deep into fantasy and young adult. But in between all those, I love listening to or reading non-fiction. As a side-note, you can always check out my monthly favourites of my book recommendations, but this post is primarily for non-fiction. Factual books to help you on the way to supporting your mental health.
As mentioned, I suffer from mental health issues myself – general anxiety – although in recent months I’ve been much better thanks to the medication I’ve been on. It’s something I’ve had to deal with for years, but honestly, the medication I’m taking has helped so much, and talking with people about my worries and fears is also a perfect solution for me.
But over the years I’ve found certain books to help me, books that maybe I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen perhaps for mental health, but books that have made me realise more about my thinking and ways to develop, as well as telling me – you are not alone.
So, without further ado, here are my top three books that have helped me with my mental health.
In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.
For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.
Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.
There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.
Why I Recommend:
When I read this, it did completely put a whole new mindset out there to mental health. It’s not necessarily a matter of not giving a flying monkey, but choosing what to give a flying monkey about, and forgetting the other things. Because we can’t control everything – only what in our lives can be controlled. It goes into a lot of different things, namely how being extraordinary is the ‘must have’ it seems in our culture today, whereas really we need to accept being mediocre. Because not everyone can be a celebrity, and if everyone were celebrities we actually wouldn’t have celebrities…
I really liked Mark Manson’s book because it was entirely readable, understandable, and put a lightbulb in my mind about a lot of things. The fact is, I think a lot about a lot of different subjects, but this book tells stories and shows how, by focusing on what matters to you and what affects you, rather than worry about things that you can’t control, it can help you look at your life in a totally different perspective. And that’s just the beginning.
Yes, that’s a simplified version, and I’d recommend you reading the book to truly get what he’s saying – or checking out Mark Manson’s blog, but if you haven’t read this book yet I definitely recommend.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron provides a twelve-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative self. It aims to dispel the ‘I’m not talented enough’ conditioning that holds many people back and helps you to unleash your own inner artist. Its step-by-step approach enables you to transform your life, overcome any artistic blocks you may suffer from, including limiting beliefs, fear, sabotage, jealousy and guilt, and replace them with self confidence and productivity. The Artist’s Way will demystify the creative process by making it a part of your daily life.
From Alicia Keys to Elizabeth Gilbert, Patricia Cornwell to Pete Townshend and Russell Brand, The Artist’s Way has helped thousands of people around the world to discover their inner artist. Whatever your artistic leanings, this book will give you the tools you need to enable you to fulfil your dreams.
Why I Recommend
Ok, ok, I’ll admit, I’ve not got past the first few chapters yet of this book, but I keep meaning to carry on because the first few tips really helped with my mental health. I’m a creative person, which was the main reason I picked this up, but by doing so it started a routine that supported my mental health journey as well as my creative one. And I’d go as far as saying that by being creative, this supports my journey with anxiety also.
What the first few chapters begin with, is the suggestion to start a morning journal. A space to write three pages – freehand – every morning regardless of what else you have on. That, and put aside a day a week just for you to explore, to take a day for yourself to learn and discover, because – let’s be honest – the human experience is the learning experience. Sometimes we forget that to improve our lives we need to actually explore and have ‘adventures’. And The Artist’s Way is all about that. It’s about taking a day to go to a museum, visit somewhere you’ve not been before, or even just take the day to discover more about your local residence.
Because of The Artist’s Way, I try to journal daily, and it really helps my mind getting everything out on paper. It’s a shame that lately I’ve been unable to explore as much as I want to, what with the pandemic and various lockdowns, but I try and go for walks daily and take my camera. I have no idea if there will be something different or unique to capture when I do take it, but invariably there is definitely something new to be captured if I forget the camera!
What seriously helps my mental health is creative exploration and journalling out my thoughts and feelings – so this book is right up my street. Perhaps its recommendations would help others?
Bring meaning and joy to all your days with the internationally bestselling guide to ikigai.
According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai – a reason for living. And according to the residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa – the world’s longest-living people – finding it is the key to a happier and longer life.
Inspiring and soothing, this book will bring you closer to these centenarians’ secrets: how they leave urgency behind; keep doing what they love for as long as possible; nurture friendships; live in the moment; participate in their communities and throw themselves into their passions. And it provides practical tools to help you discover your own personal ikigai. Because who doesn’t want to find the joy in every day?
Why I Recommend
I dipped in and out of this book, but I’ve read it cover to cover in total, and it’s a lovely little book explaining what Ikigai is – the secret to a long and happy life. You can set up your ‘purpose’ all up yourself, as the book has a diagram inside and on the back explaining how to find that purpose in life. I’ve even written about it on a blog post here a while ago, as I loved the book so much, which you can read here.
The fact is, what helped my mental health was actually pursuing my purpose – my love of writing. I may not be paid for all the types of writing I do, but it’s something that I love and I delve into different forms of writing everyday, from poetry to blog writing, novel writing to copywriting for work. I absolutely believe that by doing what I love helps my mental health. It makes me feel I’ve achieved something every day, that I’m learning and developing, and that’s a true aspect of our human experience.
So, this is the third and final book I’d recommend for your mental health. If you’re struggling with what your purpose is, this will help so much. Not only that, but it delves deeper into the aspects of life that will ensure a happy and healthy life – no spoilers here I’m afraid! But it’s a lovely book, and I thoroughly recommend.
Kate @ Kandid Chronicles x