The best books about burnout and how you can fight it

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an internationally recognised wellbeing and health writer, accredited stress and performance coach, and originally trained, qualified, and worked as a state registered nurse in the UK. I am also the author of numerous health-related books published internationally, including I Want to Be Calm and I Want to Sleep.

I wrote...

From Burnout to Balance: How to Reclaim Your Life & Improve Your Health

By Harriet Griffey,

Book cover of From Burnout to Balance: How to Reclaim Your Life & Improve Your Health

What is my book about?

Officially confirmed by the World Health Organisation, burnout has its own recognised test, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). It was previously considered to be essentially a workplace problem, but as we increasingly work from home and try to juggle numerous domestic concerns and uncertainty alongside work demands, its impact has become more widely recognised.

When I was commissioned to write a short, accessible book on the symptoms and effect of burnout and how to mitigate and manage it, the Covid pandemic hadn’t happened. But from early 2020, the world was blindsided by the virus and we all felt its impact, and none more so than the dedicated health professionals and frontline workers to whom the book is dedicated. Those who suddenly found themselves working from home found it stressful too and had to learn to adjust, many also showing symptoms of burnout.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of How to Build a Healthy Brain: Reduce stress, anxiety and depression and future-proof your brain

Harriet Griffey Why did I love this book?

“One of the most common mistakes that people make in relation to managing their emotional and mental health is waiting until there is a crisis before they act,” says Watson, a nutrition-trained chartered psychologist, in the introduction of her book and she’s absolutely right. Being observant and informed about what can impact our mental health can help us avoid a crisis like burnout. This really comprehensive and accessible book is also excellent at explaining how the brain works and what it needs, from nutrition to exercise and sleep, and how we can make the improvements necessary to take better care of ourselves and avoid or manage a crisis like burnout that, in turn, can contribute to other problems.

By Kimberley Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Build a Healthy Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A practical manual for your brain.' - Dr Megan Rossi, author of Eat Yourself Healthy

A groundbreaking science-based guide to protecting your brain health for the long term.

Whatever your age, having a healthy brain is the key to a happy and fulfilled life. Yet, for both young and old, diseases of the brain and mental health are the biggest killers in the 21st century. We all know how to take care of our physical health, but we often feel powerless as to what we can do to protect our mental well-being too.

How to Build a Healthy Brain is…

Book cover of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Harriet Griffey Why did I love this book?

Again, not focussed specifically on burnout but related to it, this book was first published in 2014 and embodies over 30 years of research and psychotherapeutic work done by the author on the impact of trauma (and burnout is a form of psychological trauma) on body and mind. It’s a meaty read but one of its many pluses is providing an understanding of how the body’s physiological response can hijack the mind, and vice versa. An individual’s predisposition may lie deeper than a response to work-related stress and for many, this book is pure gold in helping to understand the underlying causes of a possible susceptibility to burnout.

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Body Keeps the Score as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestseller

"Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society." -Alexander McFarlane, Director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies

A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der…

Book cover of The Joy of Burnout: How the End of the World Can Be a New Beginning

Harriet Griffey Why did I love this book?

Originally published in 2002, the author took a revolutionary approach to burnout, suggesting that burnout could be an opportunity for making overdue changes rather than a reason to panic. Ignoring the warning signs of burnout, feeling exhausted, frustrated, empty, disconnected, spent, or cynical will ultimately lead to a state of collapse, but listening to the message of burnout and exploring life alternatives will enable you to make beneficial changes. One of the founders of Skyros Holistic Holidays in Greece, psychotherapist and imagework practitioner Glouberman promotes alternative ways of living and being that actively promote psychological health.

By Dina Glouberman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Joy of Burnout as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Are you feeling exhausted, hollow, cynical, trapped, angry or just not there? Working harder but getting less done? Ill too often or for too long? Or do you know someone else who feels like this?These are some of the classic warning signs of burnout. More importantly they hold out the promise of a whole new life. In this ground breaking book Dr Dina Glouberman, visionary co-founder of the Skyros holistic health holidays, demonstrates that burnout happens at work or at home when the meaning goes out of what we are doing but we have too much invested to stop and…

Book cover of In Praise of Slow: Challenging the Cult of Speed

Harriet Griffey Why did I love this book?

In Praise of Slow was first published in 2004 and it advocated rejecting the all-pervasive cult of speed and living in a way that allowed you to be present, mindful, in the moment and focused on doing one thing at a time whether that’s working on a project, talking to a colleague, cooking a meal, socialising with a friend or reading to a child. It’s the antithesis of the cult of speed that can easily pervade our lives and contribute to burnout. For anyone who’s wanted to reassess what might be contributing to the stress that puts them at risk, they will find this is an interesting and enlightening read.

By Carl Honoré, Carl Honoré,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Praise of Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The international bestseller - over 1/2 million copies sold! Now with a 2019 edition with a new preface. 
Across the Western world, more and more people are slowing down. Slower is better: better work, better productivity, better exercise, better sex, better food.
Don't hurry, be happy. 
Almost everyone complains about the hectic pace of their lives. These days, our culture teaches that faster is better. But in the race to keep up, everything suffers - our work, diet and health, our relationships and sex lives.

International bestselling author Carl Honore uncovers a movement that challenges the cult of speed. In this…

Book cover of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Harriet Griffey Why did I love this book?

Identical twin sisters, Emily has a PhD in Health Behaviour and Amelia is a musician, they focus on the stress cycle as experienced particularly by women who, they persuasively argue, experience it differently to their male counterparts. Their inner critic is a woman’s own worst enemy and it can be difficult to override when it feeds into a stress cycle based on perfectionism, the idea that it’s possible to ‘have it all’, and the necessity for expensive ‘self-care’. Their objectives in examining the female stress cycle are science-based, simpler, and more accessible and in spite of being directed at a female readership, there’s a lot that’s relatable across the board.

By Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Burnout as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “This book is a gift! I’ve been practicing their strategies, and it’s a total game-changer.”—Brené Brown, PhD, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Dare to Lead

This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.

Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between…

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Rewriting Illness

By Elizabeth Benedict,

Book cover of Rewriting Illness

Elizabeth Benedict

New book alert!

What is my book about?

What happens when a novelist with a “razor-sharp wit” (Newsday), a “singular sensibility” (Huff Post), and a lifetime of fear about getting sick finds a lump where no lump should be? Months of medical mishaps, coded language, and Doctors who don't get it.

With wisdom, self-effacing wit, and the story-telling artistry of an acclaimed novelist, Elizabeth Benedict recollects her cancer diagnosis after discovering multiplying lumps in her armpit. In compact, explosive chapters, interspersed with moments of self-mocking levity, she chronicles her illness from muddled diagnosis to “natural remedies,” to debilitating treatments, as she gathers sustenance from family, an assortment of urbane friends, and a fearless “cancer guru.”

Rewriting Illness is suffused with suspense, secrets, and the unexpected solace of silence.

Rewriting Illness

By Elizabeth Benedict,

What is this book about?

By turns somber and funny but above all provocative, Elizabeth Benedict's Rewriting Illness: A View of My Own is a most unconventional memoir. With wisdom, self-effacing wit, and the story-telling skills of a seasoned novelist, she brings to life her cancer diagnosis and committed hypochondria. As she discovers multiplying lumps in her armpit, she describes her initial terror, interspersed with moments of self-mocking levity as she indulges in "natural remedies," among them chanting Tibetan mantras, drinking shots of wheat grass, and finding medicinal properties in chocolate babka. She tracks the progression of her illness from muddled diagnosis to debilitating treatment…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in burnout, the brain, and health?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about burnout, the brain, and health.

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