6 of the best self-help books for 2021

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Public health expert and author Timothy Caulfield calls our existence “life in an age of anxiety” – and the pandemic has certainly exacerbated a global mental health crisis.

You may not be convinced that feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, or depression can be alleviated by a book, but this year’s top titles on the topic of mental health have tended to focus on on the lived experience. They are all the more powerful.

Inspirational books by Matt Haig, Bryony Gordon, and Marcus Rashford discuss the importance of hope through hard-learned lessons. Oliver Burkeman and Caulfield both tackle the minefield of everyday distractions and worries, while that of Nedra Glover Tawwab Set limits, find peace: a guide to win back you is perhaps a more obvious “how-to” guide to mental wellness.

In light of World Mental Health Day, which falls today, here are six books that offer relief, food for thought, and paths to happiness in these troubled times.

“The Comfort Book” by Matt Haig

Haig had depression in his twenties and was on the verge of ending his personal hell of depression and anxiety. His slow recovery and realization that mental illness is something you go through, rather than who you are, has led this novelist to write two successful non-fiction explorations of mental health; Reasons to stay alive and Notes on a nervous planet.

His new book is a compendium of all his hard-earned consolations and lessons learned over the past 20 years. A collection of nuggets, aphorisms and even weird heartwarming playlists, delving into The Comfort Book it’s like listening to a wise friend who knows exactly what to say about the stresses and strains of modern life. Yes, there are a few well-worn maxims, but overall Haig reveals the inner strength, resilience, and hope that he firmly believes we all have within us.

“Relax, shit! A User’s Guide to Living in the Age of Anxiety ‘by Timothy Caulfield

Canadian public health expert and Netflix star Caulfield believes the thousands of decisions we make every day are driven by beliefs or concerns about the world that have no basis in reality. His coping techniques – basically don’t let fear and risk dominate and don’t aim for illusory perfection – are sort of common sense and quite achievable, but not cliché.

Clever packaging Relax as an hour-by-hour guide of a full day this approach; it seems obvious that if you’re anxious you might be better off not scrolling through Twitter the moment you wake up, for example. But maybe we need Caulfield to remind us.

There is also a pandemic addendum that examines how fragile our relationship with real evidence can be and the dangers of misinformation. Caulfield asks us to step back, relax, reflect and then make decisions, rather than just forming shareable opinions. We might find that we are better and calmer people for it.

“Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use It” by Oliver Burkeman

Written in hard, cold numbers, it’s a sobering statistic: In an average human lifespan, we get 4,000 attempts every day of the week. Burkeman’s thesis in this great blend of self-help and philosophy is how we get through these days in a meaningful way.

Arguing that most of our anxieties come from an uncomfortable feeling that we might be wasting one of those 4,000 Mondays because of various distractions – “an existential overflow” as he calls it – Burkeman suggests embracing our limits as a way to avoid the constant attraction to impossible versions of ourselves. Or in other words, reusing the fear of missing out on the joy of living in the moment – and doing what you can, fine.

“Defining limits, finding peace: a guide to reclaiming oneself” by Nedra Glover Tawwab

American therapist and relationship counselor Tawwab’s debut was instantaneous New York Times bestseller this year, and it’s not hard to see why. Tawwab has tapped into what can only be called a crisis of self-confidence, as people struggle to be themselves or to be heard in their workplaces or in their relationships.

Her book is a guide to making verbal or behavioral statements – boundaries, effectively – that help overcome these difficulties and make people feel comfortable, secure, and protected in their dealings with others. Of course, taking the plunge to set those boundaries is difficult, and Tawwab is an engaging and reassuring guide.

Drawing on the latest research in cognitive behavioral therapy, she encourages the idea that setting healthy boundaries is not just about saying no, but expressing our needs clearly and without excuses.

“No such thing as normal” by Bryony Gordon

Like Haig, sometimes the best idea of ​​mental wellness comes from people who have learned to live with mental illness. This is essentially the premise of Gordon’s book published in early 2021 – a time when the Covid-19 anxieties of most people, including his own, were through the roof.

Introducing us to his own techniques in lively, accessible and friendly prose, Gordon approaches sleep, worry, medication, self-image, therapy, learned behavior and mindfulness in a way that only sobering, but offers practical tools and information. for those who feel lonely. Gordon calls herself a “Accidental Mental Health Advocate,” but the lessons she has learned are extremely valuable.

“You are a champion: how to be the best you can be” by Marcus Rashford

It’s fair to say that Manchester United footballer Rashford has become an inspiration off the pitch as much as on it, with his campaigns for free school meals making a real change in the UK. His first book, written with Carl Anka, capitalizes on his hiding place with young people to encourage them to think positively about the potential to unlock in each.

With stories and lessons from Rashford’s life combined with advice from performance psychologist Katie Warriner, it’s an inspiration to everyone; less a guide on how to be Marcus Rashford and more a self-help manual that celebrates the great things everyone does and can do. It deals with setbacks in young people and encourages the belief that everyone should be allowed to have dreams. “Look across the horizon,” as he memorably puts it.

Update: October 10, 2021, 3:32 a.m.


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