anti-stress nonfiction

We've all been there: stuck in a cycle of what-ifs, plagued by indecision, paralyzed by the fear of getting it wrong. Nobody wants to live a life of constant overthinking, but it doesn't feel like something we can choose to stop doing. It feels like something we're wired to do, something we just can't escape. But is it? Anne's answer is no. Not only can you overcome negative thought patterns that are repetitive, unhealthy, and unhelpful, you can replace them with positive thought patterns that will bring more peace, joy, and love into your life. In Don't Overthink It, you'll find actionable strategies that can make an immediate and lasting difference in how you deal with questions both small—Should I buy these flowers?—and large—What am I doing with my life? More than a book about making good decisions, Don't Overthink It offers you a framework for making choices you'll be comfortable with, using an appropriate amount of energy, freeing you to focus on all the other stuff that matters in life.
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If you love heartfelt, thoughtful memoirs that also make you laugh, then you must pick up this collection of essays by pop-culture critic R. Eric Thomas. Eric shares stories from childhood to adulthood, detailing his coming-of-age with bracing candor and hilarious honesty. He writes about discovering his identity, feeling like an outsider, and finding his voice, all while injecting hilarious pop culture references, bits of wisdom, and his signature wit. While he relays plenty of difficult experiences, his tone is persistently hopeful. I highly recommend the audiobook version, narrated by the author, for full humorous effect.
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From the publisher: "An intimate, revelatory book exploring the ways we can care for and repair ourselves when life knocks us down. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered. A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May's story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas. Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season."
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As a self-certified plant lady, I recognize the benefits of surrounding myself with greenery, especially in the cold and dreary winter months. But now that it's spring, I'm turning my attention to the garden outside. This meditative exploration of the power of gardening from a professional psychiatrist inspired me to spend more time digging in the dirt and tending to my outdoor plants as a way to feel grounded. Stuart-Smith explains the connection between gardening with your hands and soothing your anxious mind with examples from her own gardening journey, her grandfather's post-WWI healing, and progressive prison gardening programs. I enjoyed the combination of research and practical gardening tips and feel inspired to try some new planting projects soon.
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It seems simple: a long, deep breath makes you feel better when you're stressed. But what if we're not breathing correctly from moment to moment? Journalist James Nestor argues that going back to the essentials of active, intentional breathing can help us feel and move better through our day to day lives. Nestor travelled the world to collect stories and practices to help us reconnect to our breath, from ancient yoga breath work to local choir school exercises. Combining these stories with scientific research from pulmonology, biochemistry, and physiology, Nestor crafts a compelling case for paying closer attention to our breath and adding corrective measures. I've already noticed better posture at my desk and better timing on my runs from putting some of these tips into practice.
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From the publisher: 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 to anyone.
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I adored this book; I wish I could download it into my brain. Kelly talks in depth about how after her friend Liz was diagnosed with cancer, they both pushed past the surface stuff to forge a powerful and enduring friendship. (The dedication page makes me cry every time: "I wish we could have done this together, Lizzard, though in a way, we sort of did.") This book will make you want to be a better friend, and also give you insight into how. Personal, heartfelt, and really really good.
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Part memoir, part educational glimpse into the profession of psychotherapy, completely absorbing. Making use of an unusual two-pronged approach, psychotherapist Gottlieb shows us how therapy really works. She introduces us to four of her patients, taking us inside the room to show what happens in their sessions. Thanks to a sudden breakup, Gottlieb is in therapy herself, and through her eyes we get the patient's perspective as well. I so enjoyed getting to know her patients, session by session, and rooted hard for them as they worked through the process. A book not just about therapy but about how we grow, change, and connect with each other—and how we can do it all more effectively. For fans of Christie Tate’s Group and Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams.
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