The best books about stress

6 authors have picked their favorite books about stress and why they recommend each book.

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When the Body Says No

By Gabor Maté,

Book cover of When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

From his years as a palliative and family physician, Dr. Maté recognizes that the physical and emotional shut-down and illness resulting from trauma or chronic stress is a natural response to overwhelming experiences. He sees beyond the standard medical model to treat his patients as whole people, not disconnected body parts or diagnoses. In this book, he shows that what medicine considers psychosomatic or imaginary is in fact a biological survival mechanism; and advocates for a compassionate and holistic approach to healing over the mechanistic medical norm. Case histories and personal insights show that unresolved trauma patterns get transferred from parent to child, down the generations to create their own patterns of illness and disease. Also, check out the film The Wisdom of Trauma about his work on addiction. 


Who am I?

I am an emotional intuitive with a background in psychology, five decades of hands-on experience, and a love and fascination for language. You could call me a Body-mind Translator or a Body Whisperer. I started systematically “listening” to bodies when I was seven, and have worked with thousands of bodies since then. In my books and in sessions, I have the words to translate the body’s messages so people understand what their body is communicating through tension and symptoms and make lasting improvement. My purpose and greatest joy are to catalyze deep healing where physical and emotional interconnect – directly in the body.  


I wrote...

Issues in Your Tissues: Heal Body and Emotion from the Inside Out

By Denise LaBarre,

Book cover of Issues in Your Tissues: Heal Body and Emotion from the Inside Out

What is my book about?

What happened to the energy of the tears you had to suck down as a kid? Or the anger you weren’t allowed to express? It accumulates in your body with like-energy to become pain, illness, and disease. 

Issues in Your Tissues is a practical, easy-to-read guide to exploring the unexpressed emotions you carry. My book offers the insights and tools you need to go into your own body, allow the energy to release, and get the healing answers you've been looking for. Its stories, cartoons, quiz, and exercises show you how you can reconnect to your internal communication system, shed your energetic “armor,” and heal the roots of even chronic illness. The health and aliveness you were born with are yours to reclaim with understanding and love.

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

By Robert M. Sapolsky,

Book cover of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

I like it because it is written almost jargon-free and it’s a lot of fun, as the title indicates. As Sapolsky explains, when we worry or experience stress, our body turns on the same physiological responses that an animal's does. However, animals stop experiencing stress when the environmental emergency passes,  while we humans can worry for long times and thus produces the same physiological responses which, if chronic, can take a toll on our bodies and, if prolonged, can make us sick. 


Who am I?

As a thirteen-year-old boy, I read Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and I became totally fascinated by Freud’s slow, methodical questioning that eventually revealed deeply hidden unconscious conflicts in the lives of his patients. Then and there I resolved to become a psychiatrist. As a psychiatrist, I explored my patients’ early memories. Over the years, I authored seven books, including The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, published in 28 countries now. I have previously taught at Harvard University, the University of Toronto, York University (Toronto), and St. Mary’s University. This book takes my studies of memory a step further and drills right down to the intelligence of cells.


I wrote...

The Embodied Mind: Understanding the Mysteries of Cellular Memory, Consciousness, and Our Bodies

By Thomas R. Verny,

Book cover of The Embodied Mind: Understanding the Mysteries of Cellular Memory, Consciousness, and Our Bodies

What is my book about?

It seems that in July 2007, a 44-year-old French man went to a hospital complaining of mild weakness in his left leg. When the doctors performed numerous scans of his head, they discovered a huge fluid-filled chamber occupying most of the space in his skull, leaving little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue. It was a case of hydrocephalus, literally – water on the brain.

Dr. Lionel Feuillet of Hôpital de la Timone in Marseille was quoted as saying, “The images were most unusual...the brain was virtually absent.” The patient was a married father of two children and worked as a civil servant apparently leading a normal life, despite having a cranium filled with spinal fluid and very little brain tissue.

Full Catastrophe Living

By Jon Kabat-Zinn,

Book cover of Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness is a wonderful primer on Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD with a Preface by famed Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. This wonderful book shows how to use ancient modalities like breathwork and Mindfulness to heal the stresses and illnesses of the modern world. It removes the fear some may have that these are meaningless or rooted in superstition or that performing them is somehow in violation of the religion you practice. Dr. Kabat-Zinn anchors the practices in science. This book informed so much of what I added to my work as an organizer.  


Who am I?

I am known as The Zen Organizer and the author of 10 books on organizing. I’ve been working one-on-one with clients for over 30 years. I grew up in Brooklyn and now make Los Angeles my home. We tend to see our lives in unrelated compartments. I grew up with organized parents. As an adult I began to study the body from nutrition to movement. I opened myself to therapy initially to be a better actress. All of these interests dovetailed in the world of organizing and I found my life’s purpose. Zen Organizing creates a physical environment that nurtures you as you find and fulfill your Life Purpose.


I wrote...

One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week by Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good

By Regina Leeds,

Book cover of One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week by Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good

What is my book about?

A successful battle with cancer 20 years ago showed me that organizing was more than closets, kitchens, or file systems. It was in fact a way of thinking that would enable you to face any challenge life offered from chemotherapy treatments to taming an unruly closet. Organizing was a tool in a grab bag of self-help tools that might include modalities like meditation, aromatherapy, or Feng Shui.

The book is a combination of how-to organizing instructions and my philosophy called Zen Organizing™. The newly updated version will be out in late December 2022. It’s now a very Mindful book.

Overload

By Joyce Meyer,

Book cover of Overload: How to Unplug, Unwind, and Unleash Yourself from the Pressure of Stress

I read this book in a particularly trying period in my life, when it just seemed like everything was going wrong. The title caught my eye because I sure did feel overloaded! Joyce helped me identify the worries in my life and offered practical, effective advice and scriptural wisdom I needed. I still grab it when I feel overwhelmed, and it helps me to manage stress. We all get stressed—from work, relationship challenges, financial trouble, or an overabundance of information. But Joyce shares inspiring insights from the Bible, and shows me how God’s strength can help me triumph over stress to achieve the joyful, peaceful life that God intends!


Who am I?

I’ve been a writer for most of my life, and when a publisher approached me to write a book, they asked me to write about how I managed to overcome the death of my husband at such a young age and move forward into a successful life. I meet people all the time who have had hard things happen, and I wanted to help them get past the pain. Hard times don’t have to be the end of the story! They can strengthen us and equip us to help others. That’s why I love books about how to keep going in times of trouble and overcome.  


I wrote...

Why, God, Why ?: What to Do When Life Doesn't Make Sense

By Karen Jensen Salisbury,

Book cover of Why, God, Why ?: What to Do When Life Doesn't Make Sense

What is my book about?

When I was 37, my husband (a pastor, also 37 and father of our two sons) died suddenly in our bed on New Year’s night. He hadn’t been sick – he just went to bed and went to heaven. And I had questions! Sometimes things happen in life that completely shatter us – we can’t make sense of it. Not only death, but other life-changing events and devasting disappointments. We just didn’t see it coming, and now we don’t know how to go on. I wrote this book years later – it’s a testimony of how God brought my sons and me through, and how you can ask Him all your tough questions and move forward. I call it “a manual for getting past the pain.” 

TechnoStress

By Michelle M. Weil, Larry D. Rosen,

Book cover of TechnoStress: Coping with Technology @Work @Home @Play

I like this book because the authors have unearthed powerful insights. In one Reuters study, they say, of slightly more than 1,300 business managers in Europe, the U.S., Southeast Asia, and Australia, 33% of managers were suffering ill health as a direct result of information overload. Nearly two-thirds reported that tension with colleagues and diminished job satisfaction were directly related to the stress of information overload. A majority also admitted that their social and personal relationships have suffered as a result of the stress of having to cope with too much information. That kind of information puts in perspective what so many career professionals experience all too often.

The book delves into territory to which we can all relate, citing, for example, that many managers feel increasing technology leads to loss of privacy, information inundation, and erosion of face-to-face contact. And who among us is happy to have to continually…


Who am I?

I hold the registered trademark as "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," and work with organizations that seek to enhance their productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. I've spoken to Fortune 50 companies such as IBM, Cardinal Health Group, Lockheed, American Express, the IRS, Wells Fargo, and Westinghouse. My books have been published in 19 languages and have been featured in 68 of the top 75 American newspapers, as well as Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. At heart, I'm a simpler living advocate. I believe in giving back to his community and am an active volunteer for Art Space in downtown Raleigh, and the North Carolina Museum of Art.



I wrote...

Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society

By Jeff Davidson,

Book cover of Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society

What is my book about?

Breathing Space is a big concept book on the topic of work-life balance that is easy to read and easy to understand. It explains why most people are drowning in the over-information age. If you face too many emails, too much to read, or simply too much to do, this book will change your life. It explores the socio-cultural roots of our rush-rush society, and then shows how, against all odds, you can craft a personal plan that will enable you to stay productive, competitive, happy, and balanced, most of the time.

Breathing Space is the breakthrough book for a time-pressed generation, with major features in USA TodayThe Washington PostBoston HeraldChicago Tribune, and 75 other newspapers, plus Executive FemaleOffice SystemsLeaders, and Men's Health. Get in control of your space, and control of your time and life will follow.

Fighting Invisible Tigers

By Earl Hipp,

Book cover of Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens

I really like the title of this book because it captures why your brain reacts as it does to fear, anxiety, and stress. Because of the fight-or-flight reaction in response to danger, your brain revs your body up to get ready to fight a tiger or run away. But that reaction doesn’t help when your stress is about taking a test, introducing yourself to someone, or handling a rough situation at home. It’s like your brain is reacting to invisible tigers chasing you. Self-care for “tiger bites” is a fun way to think about ways to reduce the impact of stressful situations.


Who am I?

Let’s face it—kids’ anxiety has gone through the roof over the last two years since the start of the pandemic. Not being able to play with friends, participate on sports teams, or even have sleepovers has had an impact. For kids, play is one of their main ways to relieve stress.  Here are my five go-to books for kids dealing with anxiety, worries, and stress. 


I wrote...

What to Do When You're Scared and Worried: A Guide for Kids

By James J. Crist,

Book cover of What to Do When You're Scared and Worried: A Guide for Kids

What is my book about?

I wrote this book back in 2004. My goal was to take what we know about anxiety in adults, its causes, and treatments, and bring it down to a child’s level. Learning about how your brain is wired to react quickly when it thinks you’re in danger has kept us safe for thousands of years. Changing your thoughts, desensitizing yourself to things you fear, and practicing relaxation techniques all help kids feel better and reduce their anxiety.  

The Highly Sensitive Person

By Elaine N. Aron Phd,

Book cover of The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

I first read this book in my 20s and it changed my entire life. Up until that point, I had always felt different than my peers. I never understood why I was more affected by everything, held onto criticism for days (or weeks), and experienced more stress. Discovering there was a term for deep thinkers and feelers like me was enlightening and empowering. Dr. Aron is the foremost researcher on high sensitivity and I appreciated that this book is both evidence-based and practical. It’s a seminal must-read. 


Who am I?

As a human behavior professor, award-winning executive coach, and trained therapist, I’ve spent the last decade helping thousands of high-achieving, highly sensitive professionals discover ways to enjoy their success without self-doubt, stress, and emotional overwhelm. I’m a highly sensitive person myself, so I intimately understand what it’s like to navigate the world as a deep thinker and feeler. Trust Yourself is the actionable guide I wish I had had as a big-feeling, driven person trying to find my way in my career and figure out how to believe in myself in the process.


I wrote...

Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work

By Melody Wilding,

Book cover of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work

What is my book about?

Being highly attuned to your emotions, your environment, and the behavior of others can be the keys to success, but they can also lead to overthinking everything and burnout. Trust Yourself offers concrete steps to help you break free from stress, perfectionism, and self-doubt so you can find the confidence to work and lead effectively. Learn to: achieve confidence and overcome imposter syndrome; find your voice to speak and act with assertiveness; build resilience and bounce back from setbacks; and enjoy your success without sacrificing your well-being.

Adam

By Anthony McDonald,

Book cover of Adam

A beautifully written coming-of-age tale. And another book I have read many times. The descriptions are so sensuous and evocative of a hot summer in the French countryside that it’s easy to lose yourself in them. This story isn’t a straightforward romance and reading about deeply flawed but very human characters are ultimately what gives me comfort with this one.


Who am I?

I’m a reader and an author who loves stories that are so beautifully written they wrap you up tight in comfort, ensuring no matter what hurt the characters go through, you know it will all be okay in the end. And in stressful times—even in times that aren’t so stressful!—I think we all need that little bit of fictional certainty, that knowing that everything is going to be okay in the end. I started writing to give queer characters suffering from problems like loneliness, anxiety, and homelessness, as many happy endings as I could. Because no matter the difficulties you may be going through, everyone deserves a happy ending. 😊


I wrote...

Foxes

By Suki Fleet,

Book cover of Foxes

What is my book about?

Danny finds interaction difficult and must keep his world small in order to survive. By day he lives in an abandoned swimming pool and fixes electrical devices to trade for supplies, but by night, alone, he hunts sharks—a reckless search for the dangerous men who prey on the vulnerable. A search for his best friend’s killer.

A chance meeting with an American boy selling himself on the streets throws Danny’s lonely existence into disarray. Micky is troubled and fragile, and Danny feels a desperate need to protect him. Though from what, he doesn't know. As Danny discovers more about Micky, he realises that what Micky needs saving from is the one thing Danny has no idea how to fight.

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