Best Books to Add to Your Shelf After (another) Mental BreakdownSep 14, 2021
We’ve all been there. Either because of a bad day, a stressful week at school, or even an unexpected event, we’ve all experienced moments of despair or panic. And of course, for those of us with chronic mental illnesses, these feelings are constant and unyielding. So we go to therapy and seek professional medical counseling when it’s necessary and available, and we learn to manage those feelings in our everyday life. But what about when it’s midnight and you’re stressed over your AP Biology midterm that’s in 7 hours? How do you ground yourself and center your mind so you can focus on cramming “protein synthesis” into your head?
I know what you’re probably thinking. You could always go on TikTok or Youtube or whatever other boring social media app you use to distract yourself when you’re stressed. You could easily partake in mindless scrolling for hours, procrastinating till the last minute before your exam, and feel even worse when you take it… OR, you can turn to your bookshelf. Yes, you could have a book on standby full of mental exercises, yoga poses, journal prompts, or anything else you can imagine, to help you focus and calm that pounding heart.
Most of the health and wellness books marketed for Gen Z are actually meant to catch a parent’s eye instead of yours, and aren’t actually helpful or interesting to read. So, I’ve taken the time to compile a list of the best health/wellness books so you don’t have to.
“Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life” by Cleo Wade
Remember those “Wreck this Journal” books from the early 2000s? “Heart Talk” is just like that. It’s an interactive journal filled with stunning poetry that encourages the reader to be open and honest about the way they talk to themselves. The purpose of this book is to encourage kinder self-talk and a brighter outlook on everyday life. The book explores an array of different topics: gratitude, mindfulness, letting things go, change, friendships, relationships, time, and more. It’s a must-have for your mental health shelf.
Want to buy? Click this link!
TEENBreathe and Breathe
“Breathe” and “TEENBreathe” are monthly subscription magazines that are dedicated to inspiring people of all ages to create self-care habits. Their mantra is, “Breathe and make time for yourself”, which is a message that seems intuitive, but when you’re stressed or going through a mental breakdown, it can be easily forgotten. Each magazine has a different theme, with some geared towards creativity and self-expression, yoga, stress, anxiety, etc. But every magazine is full of journal prompts, yoga poses, advice columns, affirmations, activities, puzzles, and easy-to-read stories. The TEENBreathe magazines are geared towards more specific topics that are part of the teen experience, such as self discovery, school anxiety, first relationships, exploring positivity, gratitude, and so much more. If you’re looking for something quick to read, or you just like to change up your self-care routine often, then consider subscribing to “Breathe” (click here!) or “TEENBreathe” (click here!) magazines. They can also (probably) be found at your local grocery store or wherever magazines are sold near you.
“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson
I’m sure you’ve heard of this one before, or seen it somewhere in a bookstore. This is the most traditional self-help book on the list, but it still has a modern twist (I mean, just look at the title) with the way that the author approaches his advice. The book inspires readers to change their perspective about the meaning of their life (deep, right?) and re-consider how they prioritize themselves, their loved ones, and their goals. This one’s perfect for high school seniors, college students, and anyone else who is at a point where they have big decisions on their mind. It’s also great for those who are about to enter a new chapter in their life, and need some advice for big changes. To find this book, click here!
“The Moon Journal” by Sandy Sitron
My astrology friends, this one's for you. This is a self-care and self-development journal centered around the moon and our connection to the moon. The book takes you through a series of pages dedicated to learning about astrology, and allows the reader to analyze how each period in the astrological calendar affects them. For example, there are pages titled “VIRGO” that are open for writing down your reflections during virgo season. It’s kind of like an astrological diary, with bonus information about the moon, its cycles, and astrology.
Interested in exploring your astrological side? Click here!
“When the world didn’t end” by Caroline Kauffman
This is a beautiful poetry collection by Caroline Kauffman that covers a range of topics that adolescents and young adults experience: loss, love, mental illness, change, etc. It’s a really wonderful collection that might make you feel less alone. I can guarantee there is something in there you will find relatable (probably many things), but be sure to read the TW’s as many of her poems are about heavier topics. However, the author’s poetic voice is unique and insightful, and guides the reader through each page with the kindness and trust of an old friend.
The collection itself is unique in the sense that it acts as a narration of the speaker’s experiences with mental health issues throughout her life. We begin as a little girl who loses her innocence too quickly, then travel to young adulthood and encounter abusive relationships and self-harm (remember those TW’s!), and end with acceptance of the past and self-love. The ending of this collection is my favorite part because it inspires the reader to rise above their past traumas and get help to improve their mental health, which (as the speaker discusses in the poems) that’s not so easy to do. It also showcases what a healthy relationship looks like with yourself and with a partner, which many books and movies tend to leave out in their portrayals of unhealthy relationships. Even if you aren’t a fan of poetry, this collection is worth reading.
If I’ve convinced you (and I hope I have, as this book is a personal favorite), click here to buy!
“Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression” by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
This is the oldest book on this list, and the most intimate because this is a memoir of a Black woman’s struggles with depression throughout her life. The author discusses her experiences living with mental health issues in a community where Black women are stereotyped as strong and motherly, and their mental health is ignored. She also delves into coping with a mental illness diagnosis, and learning to live with depression and anxiety. This is a deeply moving memoir for women across the globe, particularly POC women who struggle with depression or anxiety and suffer from the effects of racist ideologies in their communities. I’d also recommend this to anyone who needs to read something that will make them feel less alone. Purchase it here!
A good old fashioned leather journal
Yes, the leather makes a difference, and no I don’t know why (vegan leather also works, of course!). A plain journal is a great place to start a diary, write down some affirmations, or even just keep a schedule for your daily habits. I have a journal with my morning routine written down, and another journal for my “morning pages”, which is a dedicated space where I jot down my thoughts after I first wake up in the morning. If you don’t want a fancy book, and you enjoy exploring your creative side, then a leather journal might be a great option for you! Here’s a really cool one I found on Etsy.
If none of these books sound appealing right now, that’s totally fine! Check out this list of health and wellness authors and influencers to follow. It’s always a good idea to keep your social media page positive, especially if you use it to escape mental illness symptoms or anxiety attacks.
The author of the first book on this list is also an influencer who posts positive affirmations from her books, updates about her upcoming works, and more. She’s a great person to follow on Instagram if you want to add positivity to your feed. Check her Instagram out here!
Brittani is a TikTok and Instagram influencer who promotes body positivity and eating disorder awareness. Recovering from two eating disorders herself, Brittani (also known as Brit) went viral for posting “what I eat in a day recovering from two eating disorders” videos on TikTok, and quickly gained a large following of young adults and teens. She still does the “what I eat in a day” videos, but now she also posts body positivity educational videos, affirmations, small bits of advice, updates about her life, and self-love tips. Follow her TikTok here, or click here for her Instagram.
Thekoreanvegan (aka Joanne L. Molinaro)
Joanne is a TikTok influencer and lawyer who makes vegan cooking videos. In the background of each video, Joanne tells a story layered with advice from topics ranging from relationships and self-worth to dealing with anxiety and domestic abuse. If you’re looking for relaxing, yet insightful, videos to add to your for-you-page, then give her a follow on TikTok (click here!) or follow her on Instagram (here!) where she also posts videos and tips. Also, check out her vegan cookbook in her Instagram bio!
Yoga with Adriene
If you’re looking for a calming activity to try, consider yoga! Yoga with Adriene on YouTube posts free yoga videos for all levels, with each video focusing on different ways to love yourself, your body, and your mind in a new way. Adriene’s presence is calming and kind, and her breathing mantra, “Inhale love in, exhale love out” reminds her audience to slow down and center themselves both physically and mentally during their practice. Her videos range from 5 minutes to over an hour, and they cover an array of different topics, such as yoga for stress, yoga for runners, yoga for energy… you get the point. There’s a little something for everyone, so go check out Adriene here!
Amanda Lovelace is a poet (and a pretty popular one at that) whose poetry, similar to Cleo Wade and Caroline Kauffman, promotes mental health awareness, self-love, self-empowerment, and confidence. With 11 books currently published (and more on the way), it was difficult picking just one to recommend, which is why she’s listed as an author-to-follow instead of one of her books. My personal favorite book is “To Make Monsters Out of Girls”, which follows a woman who re-learns how to be confident in herself after a rough breakup from an abusive relationship (again, be sure to check the TW’s!). Her books cover a wide range of topics that are meant to empower young women and women-identifying individuals through poetry. If you need a confidence booster, check out her website here!
Special thanks to guest contributor Elizabeth Corallo.
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