If you’re one of the many successful, but stressed, professionals about to go on holiday for some well-earned R&R, you may be thinking about what books to pack in your suitcase (or download onto your Kindle).
While you may be up for some personal development in your reading, I imagine you won’t want anything too weighty for your vacation. So with that in mind, here’s my recommendations for five books to read to help you overcome stress. They’re all down to earth, practical choices, based in evidenced science… what more would you expect from me?!
If you try one and find it useful, let me know what worked – and if you’ve got other tips for great stress-busting books, share them in the comments to help inspire others.
This is the book I probably recommend most often to people. Described on the cover as “The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness”, this is a straightforward read that takes you simply, and with some fun, through the basics of the science behind why you, via your brain, react to things as you do, and how you can change your reaction to something more helpful and positive, and cause yourself less stress.
If you’re ready to take responsibility for making some changes that will reduce your stress and anxiety, want to discover what it is that triggers unhelpful responses and how you can re-programme your brain’s computer to work more in your favour, this is the book I’d be packing in your suitcase.
Oh, and if you have children that are anxious, get angry easily or are finding dealing with difficulties pretty tough right now, there’s also a version designed for kids (“My Hidden Chimp”). I’ve successfully used this one personally with my own daughter – she loved the format and exercises in the book, even though she is not one of life’s lovers of reading.
One of the most common issues that my clients associate with their stress, is finding it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
Matthew Walker’s book is a great read if you’re finding sleep difficult to come by – you’ll learn what conditions are needed for sleep, what happens when your sleep is interrupted, what causes your sleep to become interrupted, the impact of poor sleep, as well as tips on how to get better quality sleep.
Simply, not getting enough sleep causes stress. When we don’t get enough sleep, we release additional cortisol – the stress hormone. Subsequent tiredness makes it more likely you’ll be less resilient to setbacks and difficulties, with your stress response kicking in sooner than it otherwise might, and the battle to stay alert and awake when you’re tired may also trigger a stress response.
And of course, there’s a particularly vicious cycle here, because when you’re stressed that, in itself, may well be affecting your ability to sleep. The overthinking, general brain overload and difficulty “switching off” that comes with dealing with pressure, difficult situations and our always-switched-on world, is known to be one of the key triggers for insomnia. And when your stress response is continually going-off because you are under pressure, exhausted, overwhelmed and anxious, that also triggers another sleep-inhibitor – a raise in body temperature that makes it harder for you to drop off.
If reading this leaves you determined to avoid some of the really worrying health issues that lack of sleep and the associated stress can trigger, get in touch and find out how I can help!
This may seem more of a curved-ball choice. The Clarity Method, a new book by one of the world’s leading life coaches, is predominantly aimed at other coaches to help them help their clients uncover their core values. But the content is easily used by any individual themselves. Of course, it’s helpful to have a coach work through this stuff with you – we listen really carefully for things you say that you may not even notice and play that back to you to consider, for example – but you should get a good result using this book by yourself, because the step-by-step method’s both comprehensive and easy to follow.
So why this choice? Understanding what your core values are – what actually drives you, what is most important to you – is of fundamental importance if you’re going to make decisions about what you can do to feel happier and more fulfilled. Feeling unhappy and unfulfilled is a stressor in itself – it’s almost impossible to be both happy and fulfilled and experiencing the kind of stress that’s got you looking for some help to learn how to overcome that stress.
Use this book to discover your core values, and you’ll have discovered a set of keys to understanding why you’re unhappy at work or why, despite being successful, you aren’t feeling happy and fulfilled.
Wish you didn’t get stressed out so easily, and could deal with stuff in a more level-headed way, bouncing back more easily when something really riles you? The more resilience and emotional intelligence you’re able to develop, the more it will take before your stress response is activated, and the calmer life will feel.
Whatever causes you stress, this fab little book probably covers it. Its 50 short chapters each cover either ways to tackle a specific stressor (imposter syndrome, difficult relationships, difficulty saying no) a result of your stress, or a different aspect of creating a more resilient mindset . There are specific things to consider and practical strategies to try in each case.
Easy to find the bits that feel relevant to you, and the kind of book you can dip into in bite-sized chunks, it’s a great starting point for helping you become more aware of how you may be causing your own stress, and starting to tackle all sorts of things that would help you be more resilient to set-backs. And perfect for reading in short chunks if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands!
You want instant stress-reducing results?
Go visit a bookshop and choose a book that really appeals to you, something you’ll be able to sink into and indulge in, switching off the rest of the world while you do.
For me, it’d be a twisty psychological thriller, or a beautifully-written but dead easy to read novel with a strong character at its heart.
Whatever your choice, if it’s something you know you’ll love, reading it will give your brain some beautifully mindful downtime, will release some gorgeous endorphins as you feel the satisfaction of enjoying time reading a really good book, and will physically relax your body as you curl up with a great book.
Just rinse and repeat, for regular, easy, stress management.
I’m Jo Lee, the No Stress Success Coach. I help under-pressure professionals achieve the successful, enjoyable work life they want, without the stress, self-doubt and exhaustion they don’t. I help you make changes that mean you control your work rather than it controlling you, so you’re able to switch off, worry less, sleep better, work less and live more.
So you feel balanced, not burned out.
I offer face to face stress management coaching, work life balance coaching and confidence coaching in Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Birmingham and online coaching across the UK. If you’d like to find out more about how coaching works to help you manage stress or what coaching with me might be like, please get in touch for an informal chat or to arrange a free initial consultation.