Stress and anxiety levels are at an all-time high right now. It’s important that collectively we work to #NormalizeRest and allow everyone (including you!) the time to regularly rest and recharge. Here are 7 books about the power and necessity of rest, and how to get started unwinding.
If you’d like to purchase any of these books, we’d highly recommend seeking out your local independent bookstore. Your business helps ensure the survival of these vital cultural institutions during this difficult time.
1. The Art of Rest by Claudia Hammond
Today busyness has become a badge of honor. We want to say we’re busy, yet at the same time, we feel exhausted. Instead, we should start taking rest seriously as a method of self-care and this book can help us to work out how.
The Art of Rest draws on ground-breaking research Claudia Hammond collaborated on—‘The Rest Test’: the largest global survey into rest ever undertaken, which was completed by 18,000 people across 135 different countries. Much of value has been written about sleep, but rest is different; it is how we unwind, calm our minds, and recharge our bodies. And, as the survey revealed, how much rest you get is directly linked to your sense of well-being.
Counting down through the top ten activities which people find most restful, Hammond explains why rest matters, examines the science behind the results to establish what really works and offers a roadmap for a new, more restful, and balanced life.
2. The Art of Taking It Easy by Dr. Brian King
Dr. Brian King got a degree in psychology before becoming a world-touring comic and the host of humor therapy seminars attended by more than ten thousand people each year. In this brilliant guide he presents hands-on techniques for managing stress by rewiring our brains to approach potentially difficult situations through a lens of positivity. To do so, Dr. King explores what stress is, where it comes from, and what it does to our bodies and brains. He delves deep into how to address everyday stress—as well as anxiety, insecurities, repression, and negativity—and gives insight into resulting ailments such as anxiety disorders, depression, hypertension, obesity, substance abuse disorders, and more. Dr. King’s techniques are chemical and cost free, and embrace humor, resilience, relaxation, optimism, gratitude, and acceptance. Instead of a dry medical approach to dealing with stress, this unique volume is filled with life-changing tips and instructions presented with humor and a wealth of memorable, smile-inducing anecdotes.
3. Calm by Alain de Botton and The School of Life
Few life skills are as neglected, yet as important, as the ability to remain calm. Our very worst decisions and interactions are almost invariably the result of a loss of calm – and a descent into anxiety and agitation. Surprisingly, but very fortunately, our power to remain calm can be rehearsed and improved. We don’t have to stay where we are now: our responses to everyday challenges can dramatically alter. We can educate ourselves in the art of keeping calm not through slow breathing or special teas but through thinking. This is a book that patiently unpacks the causes of our greatest stresses and gives us a succession of highly persuasive, beautiful and sometimes dryly comic arguments with which to defend ourselves against panic and fury.
4. A Life Less Stressed by Dr. Ron Ehrlich
Life has never been more stressful. It is no coincidence that chronic degenerative disorders such as cancer, heart disease, autoimmune illnesses, and mental-health conditions are on the rise. But if we want to tackle them, we need to look beyond their symptoms. That is the message of dentist and health advocate Dr Ron Ehrlich.
He explores why public-health campaigns are so confusing and often contradictory, and what role the food and pharmaceutical industries play in our healthcare system. It’s a story that’s easy to miss but difficult to ignore. He then untangles how problems in one part of the body are intimately connected to the whole, and how we as individuals are inextricably linked to our own environment. Ehrlich redefines the stresses that affect us in our modern world, and shows how to strengthen the five pillars — sleep, breathing, nutrition, movement, and thought — that support our health.
5. The Hard Break by Aaron Edelheit
Productivity has become an international obsession. We celebrate a work culture where people boast of long working hours, their extreme schedules and how little they sleep. A constant stream of emails, texts, tweets and more keeps us connected every minute and we rarely put our phones down. Every moment needs to be maximized and no time can be wasted.
And yet most of us also feel something is wrong. All of these attempts at optimizing business and life aren’t really making us happier. Ironically, it might not be mak-ing us all that productive either. In this groundbreaking book, noted entrepreneur and money manager Aaron Edelheit breaks down the myths around productivity and offers a startlingly simple solution: the Sabbath.
Through his personal journey of discovering the joy of taking a “hard break” of one day a week to reset, Edelheit profiles not only his own life transformation, but how this same practice has been changing the lives of well known entrepreneurs, celebrities and politicians alike.
For anyone who has ever struggled to find a good balance between life and work, this book offers an essential roadmap for how to make the right choices, attain more success, put life back into perspective and gain more happiness all by taking a hard break for yourself.
6. The Achiever Fever Cure by Claire Booth
Claire Booth was a successful but stressed-out market research entrepreneur and executive suffering from what she calls “achiever fever”—constant striving coupled with chronic feelings of inadequacy. Sick and tired of feeling miserable, self-help skeptic Booth decides to try anything that might bring relief, from mindfulness to martial arts, from spending ten days in silence to “smiling” at her spleen. At first, Booth is fearful that slowing down and softening up will mean losing her professional edge. Instead, she discovers a more joyful and purposeful life, one that also turns out to be good for business. Bolstered by her own survey of other high-achieving professionals, The Achiever Fever Cure is a frank, funny, and inspiring story of Booth’s road to recovery.
7. Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness
When Joe Harkness suffered a breakdown in 2013, he tried all the things his doctor recommended: medication helped, counselling was enlightening, and mindfulness grounded him. But nothing came close to nature, particularly birds. How had he never noticed such beauty before? Soon, every avian encounter took him one step closer to accepting who he is. The positive change in Joe’s wellbeing was so profound that he started a blog to record his experience. Three years later he has become a spokesperson for the benefits of birdwatching, spreading the word everywhere from Radio 4 to Downing Street. In this groundbreaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves.