The best books to help you manage stress, anxiety, and overthinking

Who am I?

When I first started building this site, and the Beautiful Voyager community, I had just turned 40 years old. I’d been fighting migraines all of my life and had tried every medication and natural approach possible. I'd given up hope for improvement when my neurologist surprised me by saying: You have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I searched but found nothing online that spoke to my physical experience of stress, overthinking, and anxiety. I decided that had to change, and that was when Beautiful Voyager was born. I hope you find the answers you’re looking for, or even just feel less alone on the journey. The first Beautiful Voyager book, Get Out of My Head, was released in May 2020.

I wrote...

Book cover of Get Out of My Head: Inspiration for Overthinkers in an Anxious World

What is my book about?

Are you an overthinker? You’re not alone! This beautifully illustrated guide offers a joyful, manageable way to deal with anxiety while quieting your stressful thoughts through easy exercises, bite-sized takeaways, and calming visuals. What if you learned to ride the wave of anxiety instead of getting lost in it? Get Out of My Head is here to help, providing guidance and inspiration for overthinkers, people-pleasers, and perfectionists. Written by Meredith Arthur, founder of Beautiful Voyager, featuring art by Leah Rosenberg, former Director of the Color Factory in New York, Get Out of My Head offers soothing techniques for understanding anxiety and moving through the traps of overthinking.

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The books I picked & why

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

By Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski,

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

Why did I love this book?

I heard about Burnout by sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, on a recent Brené Brown Unlocking Us podcast episode, and it was a happy surprise to learn that we share a literary agent! I listened to the audiobook and found I got something out of every single chapter. The book is aiming high: it wants to end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I’ve been asked for book recs to help with shaky feelings from my fellow beautiful voyagers, and I often mention Burnout since it delves into how emotions can affect our bodies without us even knowing it’s happening. The book explores some of the core reasons women may be facing the kinds of symptoms described above, and works to systematically break them down.

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…

Book cover of The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

Why did I love this book?

I can’t stop thinking about this book. The premise: Our brain is a biological, evolved organ that’s very different from a computer. People who can tune into their bodies can more effectively use their brains. Annie cites studies of Wall Street traders who seem to make more money when they’re more “interoceptively” attuned — meaning, when they’re better at reading their own body signals. In other words, when I use my body, my surroundings, and my relationships to “think outside the brain,” I can make better decisions than people who don’t know how to do the same.

By Annie Murphy Paul,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Extended Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Editors' Choice
A Washington Post Best Nonfiction Book of 2021
A New York Times Notable Book

A bold new book reveals how we can tap the intelligence that exists beyond our brains—in our bodies, our surroundings, and our relationships

Use your head.
That’s what we tell ourselves when facing a tricky problem or a difficult project. But a growing body of research indicates that we’ve got it exactly backwards. What we need to do, says acclaimed science writer Annie Murphy Paul, is think outside the brain. A host of “extra-neural” resources—the feelings and movements of our…

Book cover of The Anxiety Sisters' Survival Guide: How You Can Become More Hopeful, Connected, and Happy

Why did I love this book?

Could there have been a more natural and intuitive connection than mine with the Anxiety Sisters? I don't think so. Abbe Greenberg and Maggie Sarachek have built an online community of 200K people and host a popular podcast called The Spin Cycle. In their work, they blend their personal experience with their professional training as counselors, mental health advocates, researchers, and educators. Their book, The Anxiety Sisters’ Survival Guide: How You Can Become More Hopeful, Connected, and Happy is terrific. The down-to-earth, actionable advice that Abbe and Maggie share is dead on. Great work, sisters!

By Abbe Greenberg, Maggie Sarachek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Anxiety Sisters' Survival Guide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* Does merely saying the word 'anxiety' make you anxious? [sorry]
* Is your head stuck in a constant spin cycle?
* Do you feel like your anxiety runs the show? [sorry, again]

Got anxiety? Join the club. More specifically, join the Anxiety Sisterhood. Abs and Mags, aka the Anxiety Sisters, have spent the past thirty years figuring out how to outsmart their anxiety-ridden brains, and the last five years sharing what they've learned with a growing online community of like-minded sufferers who are looking for ways to cope better every day.

Whether you're looking to better understand and manage…

Book cover of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief: A Revolutionary Approach to Understanding and Healing the Impact of Loss

Why did I love this book?

Claire Bidwell Smith’s Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief was the first book that revealed to me that anxiety lives in the body autonomous from the mind, and can cause panic attacks hours or even a day after the feelings flood the system, causing a lack of connection between cause and effect. It expanded my sense of what anxiety is, and how the physical response appears in unexpected places…like while grieving.

By Claire Bidwell Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Anxiety disorders are on the rise; many people are looking for resources to help them cope with anxiety, yet most people aren't aware that unresolved grief is a primary underpinning--or that the two are related at all. In her therapy practice and in her own life, Claire Bidwell Smith discovered the connections between anxiety and grief. Now, backed by research, case studies, and interviews, Bidwell Smith breaks down the physiology of anxiety, giving readers a concrete foundation of understanding in order to help them heal the anxiety caused by loss. Taking a big step beyond Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' widely accepted five…

Book cover of Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind

Why did I love this book?

The book is great. The app is useful (though a bit clunky and costs a pretty penny). You can get the gist from the book, though, at a lower cost: Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind. In this book, Dr. Brewer explores the ways in which we all create habits around our anxiety — and how to break them down and rebuild them in healthy ways.

By Judson Brewer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Unwinding Anxiety as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller

A step-by-step plan clinically proven to break the cycle of worry and fear that drives anxiety and addictive habits

We are living through one of the most anxious periods any of us can remember. Whether facing issues as public as a pandemic or as personal as having kids at home and fighting the urge to reach for the wine bottle every night, we are feeling overwhelmed and out of control. But in this timely book, Judson Brewer explains how to uproot anxiety at its source using brain-based techniques and small hacks accessible…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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