I love to read. I’m always on the hunt to learn new skills to improve myself both professionally and personally and find reading to be one of my most efficient ways to hone these skills. On average, I’ll read 2-4 books a month.
I know my reading habits are not the norm, however in this instance, they’ve come in handy. Over the years, I’ve read tens of hundreds of self-help titles. I’ve had a lot of people email and DM me recently to ask for books I’d recommend for emotional management and healing. Today I’m going to share with you my absolute favorite books and who I think they’re best suited for.
Each of the following books made a lasting impact on my life, and I’ve used much of what I’ve learned in the following titles to create my own systems and routines to help with my own emotional management. I now share these learnings with my followers and clients.
Please note, if you decide to purchase a book using one of the links below, I’ll receive an affiliate commission (and will be so grateful!).
Best books for if you struggle with anxiety…
I speak a lot about spirituality in my anxiety workshops and client sessions for good reason. By understanding how our inner guide works and learning how to embrace the healing power of the current moment, great shifts in thinking can happen and our lives can become transformed.
If you are interested in learning how to utilize spirituality to minimize anxiety, I recommend these following reads.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now came to me at an exceptionally difficult period for me while healing and processing my divorce. Tolle describes his own challenges, which included suicidal ideation until one morning he woke up and saw the world in an entirely different manner. While this is one of my favorite books of all time, I’ll admit, it’s not an easy read. However, the beautiful part of this book is I’ve read it many times over and each time I read it I take away something new I didn’t discover in my prior readings. I really think of this book as a gift that keeps on giving.
The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
I first learned of Gary Zukav and his work through an interview he did with Oprah. His explanation of how our souls work, and the soul’s purpose, really helped me make sense of a lot of things that until that moment made no sense to me. I’ve later learned much of what he speaks about is also taught in various spiritual teachings such as Buddhism, but if you are not into religious verbiage, this book helps break down a lot of concepts into easy to understand teachings.
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
The Untethered Soul is extremely similar to Zukav’s Seat of the Soul. Same sort of content, just with a different teacher explaining it. I found Singer’s take on souls and their purpose even easier to understand than Zukav’s. I gleaned enough from this book on its own to give it its own, worthy place on this list.
A Course in Miracles by Dr. Helen Schucman
I’m still working my own way through a Course in Miracles but I have to tell you, it was a crucial text for me to read while processing the loss of my late partner to suicide last year.
This book is like a textbook and it’s paper similar to a bible it is so dense. It’s a lofty read since it’s prose is written in a way that demands attention to detail so as not to miss anything. The book was written by Dr. Schucman, who wrote what she heard through a voice she identified as Jesus or god, so it’s a channeled text. It’s broken into the primary text, a workbook for students and a workbook for teachers. I’ve been going through the workbook, which breaks down the teachings into a single teaching a day and what I’ve learned through it has changed the way I think and the quality of my life as I knew it.
Marianne Williamson, an author who is now running for United States President in 2020 as well as author Gabrielle Bernstein are both two well-known teachers of the Course in Miracles. I’ve read their books as well so if you find this original version challenging, you can give any of theirs a try.
While mindfulness and meditation are not the same, all the books I list below fall into this category. When our thoughts run in circles and on repeat, learning techniques to control your thoughts can be life changing if you suffer from anxiety. The below books are my favorite in that they inspired me to create and refine my own meditation practice, as well as pare down and streamline what people and things I allowed into my life through becoming more mindful on what place I felt they should have in it.
10% Happier by Dan Harris
I’m not even kidding when I say this is one of my all time, favorite books. I had actually listened to the audio version, which author Dan Harris reads in his recognizable voice. If you are not familiar with his story, he is a well-known journalist who after having a panic attack on air, started exploring meditation as being a means to help him control his stress. His writing style is witty and funny and he shares his personal experience, including his own skepticism regarding meditation in a way that’s entertaining and easy to follow. It’s a great read and Harris even has an app out now that you can test out meditation for yourself if inspired to do so.
Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana
This was the very first book I ever read on mindfulness, and what introduced me to meditation. Shortly after reading this book over a decade ago I found a local Buddhist meditation center to learn how and have been practicing it daily ever since. Its title delivers on its promise, and it’s easy to read and understand. It’s a great introduction to mindfulness if you are not familiar with it.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Kondo has been having a moment since her new Netflix show, Tiding Up with Marie Kondo has been inspiring people to #kondo their homes and share it on social media.
I had actually read her book several years ago when it first came out, and it completely changed the way I viewed my home and my belongings I now choose to fill it with. Her tidying strategy includes holding and fully appreciating your belongings, whether they be clothing or collectibles, and decide if it “sparks joy” in your life. If it doesn’t, you thank it for it’s good service to you to that point, and donate it so it can find a new home with someone it does spark joy for.
Her methods really make you think about how the objects in your life currently serve you, and how being more mindful about what you chose to include in your life can lighten and bring more happiness to your home. If your environment stresses you out and brings you anxiety, you’ll receive a lot of value in this book.
The Whole30’s Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig
I almost didn’t include this one, but considering that it literally changed my own relationship with food, I figured it’s worth mentioning.
I’ve been talking about Hartwig’s Whole30 program on my blog and social media for some time now and with good reason. This book is intended to be a guide for after you try the 30-day Whole30 reset, and it teaches you how to be more mindful about how you feel after what you eat, and whether or not the benefits (it’s delicious!) outweigh the negatives (adverse food reactions).
Since reading this book in early 2018, my weight has dropped to what it naturally should be and it’s been effortless to keep it off. I also no longer emotionally eat. If you are looking for a new way to look at food that doesn’t involve diets and instead challenges you to change the way you think about food, this is an extremely worthwhile read.
Do note, in the event you have a prior eating disorder, some of Hartwig’s suggestions as well as the Whole30 program, in general, may not be a good fit for you. She even explains it here. If you are interested in trying it, be sure to do so under the guidance of a medical professional.
When I first start working with a client who is stressed out to the max and has off the charts anxiety, more times than not their personal task management system is either non-existent or could use an overhaul.
The two titles I’m listing below literally changed my life. I use elements from both systems in my own personal task management system to this day, as well as teach their principles to my clients. They are also both flexible in that you can make the system work for you however you like to work, whether you’re a paper planner person or prefer your Google Calendar.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
Over 10 years ago, I was at a point in my corporate career where my responsibilities were starting to overwhelm me. I couldn’t manage everything being thrown at me and I almost had a nervous breakdown. I didn’t because I knew I had a problem and needed to get help for it, and I had this book cross my path.
Getting Things Done (GTD) is a task management system that you break projects down into individual, actionable tasks and then log them based on where you need to be in order to complete them. So as an example, I personally have an “at my computer” list, and “at home” list and an “errands” list. There’s also a specific system for processing and assigning your tasks that makes things super easy to manage.
I still use this system to this day, and it helped me manage my family’s large, regional electronics distribution company as an SVP fairly effortlessly with no mental breakdowns. It works, so if you feel like you can’t keep your head above water at work, it may be worth checking out.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
By far, one of the most impactful exercises I have ever come across in a book came from this one. There’s a chapter where they challenge you to imagine yourself at your funeral, and what you would want people to be saying about you. It helps you determine your core values and beliefs and then makes it easy to work your way back to build and create a life that really works for you.
Healing through Nutrition
Heal Your Mind by Mona Lisa Schultz and Louise Hay
This book completely blew me away and came to me at a time when I was suffering from situational depression after losing my late partner to suicide. I actually put the author(s) suggestions on depression into play, and within around a week I turned my life around dramatically.
What I most appreciated about this book is they not only explain biologically how our brains and bodies work to create undesirable emotions like anxiety and depression, but what you need to do to balance it. This can be through medications, supplements, affirmations, or more. It’s a truly holistic and simple take on a fairly complex issue.
It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig
While the Whole30 program is listed publically for free on their website, the Hartwig’s book It Starts with Food explains why the rules are the way they are, and scientifically how it works. This book completely changed my relationship with food and showed me how what I was eating was affecting my actual emotions. The best part is, after trying it not one medication was needed for relief from my mental health symptoms.
Granted, a nutritional program such as this may not work for everyone but considering we’re just talking about eating healthy food, it’s definitely worth trying out first.
If you struggle with self-confidence…
The following books all played a huge part in helping me rediscover who I was and what I really wanted following my divorce. What I learned through them have aided me in my self-confidence to this day, and I believe they can do the same for you as well.
The Heart of the Soul by Gary Zukav
While the Seat of the Soul is about how the soul works, the Heart of the Soul is how our emotions work. If you want to learn how to read your emotions and discover what they are trying to teach you, this book is one you’ll want to check out. When we feel more in control of our emotions, it’s much easier to act in life with confidence because you’ll be guided by your inner guide as opposed to caring what anyone else thinks.
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
I read this book as well as Sincero’s You Are a Badass at Making Money and found both tremendously valuable. Her writing style is like that of a good friend calling you out on your shit by pointing out their own shit. She helps you see your own shortcomings in a way that make you want to forgive yourself and take the next steps to get to where you want to get.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
This one makes the list of my all-time favorite books. Manson’s take is that instead of making lemonade out of lemons, we need to have a better tolerance to just having lemons occasionally. It’s one of the best reads to learn to use acceptance to increase the quality of your life. And with gems like “In life, we have a limited amount of fucks to give. So you must choose your fucks wisely”, this New Yorker can’t get enough of the brillance demonstrated in this book.
Life Loves You: 7 Spiritual Practices to Heal Your Life by Louise Hay and Robert Holden
This was another book I had read while experiencing a depression, where I felt I must have been dealt with as many challenges as I had in life because I wasn’t worthy of better. But guess what? I am worthy, and this book helped by giving me 7, actionable things to try to turn my thinking around.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book I had bought many years ago but had just never read it. I didn’t revisit it again until very recently when it was suggested to me by my own coach.
Gilbert dives deep into creativity and how our ideas are assigned to us to bring into fruition and bring to the world to experience. If we sleep on the idea, someone else is assigned it. How many times have you had a million dollar idea that later someone else brings to market first, profits through both praise and monetary accolades and you are left disappointed in yourself? This book explains why this happens and how to really harness your own creativity to make your own mark on the world, the way it’s intended to be.
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
This book was a literal joy to read. It’s a conversation between two of the worlds most recognized religious leaders and close friends, the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu, on how to foster happiness. If you find gratitude difficult, give this book a try.
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
If you recently had a break-up, divorce, or falling out with someone you love and are doubting yourself and your part in it, this book is a must-read. I found it following my divorce and it brought to light why our marriage didn’t work, how it was okay that it didn’t, and what I needed to look for in my next relationships.
Every person has a distinct “love language”, and not knowing or sharing that language with another person you love can lead to feelings of misunderstanding, unappreciation, and more. I found what I learned in this book not only helped me understand my romantic partners better but also my family and friends and as a result, has lead me to stronger relationships.
That wraps up my 19 favorite self-help books for minimizing anxiety and increasing self-confidence. I’ll be updating this post as time goes on with even more books I believe you’ll love and utilize.
Have a favorite book I didn’t list? Leave a comment below! I’m always looking for new books to read and may add your favorite to my list!