I have read so many self-help books it’s almost pathological. With the majority of them, I get bored of halfway through, as there is, unfortunately, a lot of repetition. Authors saying the same thing, or just going with the surface level of issues.
But over the years I have found some books that have changed something within me, that I have connected to in a weirdly profound way, or books that I still remember key pieces of advice from even now, years later.
As the market is totally oversaturated (and overwhelming!) I thought I’d share my top 4 books I’d recommend to anybody struggling with or trying to manage their mental illness. These aren’t all ‘self help’ books, but I would whole-heartedly recommend you try to get your hands on them.
Milk + Honey, Rupi Kaur
“what is stronger
than the human heart
which shatters over and over
and still lives”
I first stumbled on this book when I was in my abusive relationship. Having also recently been through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy where there were many things unraveled that I had suppressed from my childhood, and issues highlighted about my coping with my parent’s divorce, I hadn’t realised how much I was hurting until I flicked through this in a book shop and found the following poem:
I burst into tears right there in the shop. I bought the book, immediately got home and read through the entire thing. I started folding each poem that hit me hard and ended up with 90% folded. I cried my eyes out, it was almost cathartic.
If you are struggling to feel understood or to even understand your own emotions, I would strongly recommend you read this. It’s painfully beautiful, but such a release to feel like you are not alone in the complexity or your emotions and/or experiences.
The Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
This book is the very reason you are reading my blog right now. After years of starting and deleting blogs, I read this book in two days and went public with my blog on the third.
I want to be best friends with Elizabeth Gilbert. Seriously. If you don’t know who she is she also wrote the INCREDIBLE Eat, Pray Love. Her writing is so warm, confident and relatable. I feel like we basically could be besties.
It is such a wonderful take on how to embrace your creativity. I had always seen my creativity and multi-passionate personality as a negative. Where I struggled to know what I wanted to do, was constantly having new ideas and trying new career paths or projects, I thought there was something wrong with me. For the first time when reading this book, it made me realise what an amazing gift that is!
The whole idea behind this is that ideas are there to be brought to life if you don’t do it, somebody else will, and also that it is not your responsibility for people to love what you do. If you enjoy the creative process, it shouldn’t matter.
It’s all about embracing your creativity, following your passions no matter whether they will or won’t make you money, and not being afraid to fail.
If you read just one book on this list – make it this one!
Here are a couple of my favourite quotes from the book:
“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”
“But to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.”
The Magic, Rhonda Byrne
“Your power is in your thoughts, so stay awake. In other words, remember to remember.”
So we had The Big Magic, and now we have The Magic. This is by the same author who wrote The Secret. I read that too, but I struggled. It didn’t really tell me anything, I felt pretty empty reading it.
This book changed everything for me. It genuinely got me out of a particularly bad bout of depression. How did it do this? Practicing gratitude.
It was as simple as that.
The book gives you exercises to do as you read through it, but writing a list of things you are grateful for has to be done every night. And so that’s what I did. And soon enough I found my mindset changing.
Things didn’t seem so bad.
I felt stronger, and I felt more empowered. I did more of the exercises in the book. I wrote a letter to the Universe ‘ordering’ what I wanted in my life. I made space in my wardrobe so that there was physical space in my life for me to meet someone and move in. I did a vision board.
This taught me how to apply the law of attraction and how to live in trust with the Universe, and for me, it worked. I genuinely believe in this way of living and it is all thanks to this book.
When I first read this book and did my first ‘order’ to the Universe, I felt silly. But I did it and I put it aside and trusted that it would be delivered (I actually carried it in my wallet!). I had specific details on the order for the type of man I wanted, the car I wanted, the job I wanted, and a specific amount of money.
Within 3 weeks the EXACT amount of money I needed was sitting in my bank account. Through duplicate refunds, a tax rebate, finding money and receiving a bonus at work. In 3 weeks.
18 months after writing that list I have the job, the car, the financial situation and most of all, the man.
If you are cynical about the process or are looking for guidance on how to apply it to your life, read this. You won’t regret it.
“It is quite possible to leave your home for a walk in the early morning air and return a different person – beguiled, enchanted.”
If you haven’t heard of Ella Woodward you have probably been living under a rock because she is now a hugely successful chef. Before you could buy her products in Waitrose she had a gorgeous food blog. I followed her from when she had about 2000 Instagram followers so it’s been amazing to see her journey.
Although this isn’t at all a self-help book it was the first time I had read something that made me think about my relationship with food, and the link between my anxiety/depression and what I was putting into my body.
Since reading this I became a vegetarian. I trialed it at first and briefly went back to eating meat before settling on being a pescetarian. I also trialed a low-sugar diet and the difference in my moods, energy levels, and panic attacks was so drastic it was almost impossible to believe.
Ella has a really interesting story and I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who has health issues or a difficult relationship with food, and sugar in particular. There are recipes in here that I still use years after first reading and as a starting point with looking at the impact of your diet on your health, this is an absolute winner.
I take a lot of inspiration from Ella still in my recipes today
My favourite thing about her is how honest and realistic she is. Here are some of my favourite quotes –
“The free-from aisle is the most depressing place in the supermarket.”
“I don’t want people to see healthy eating as a diet. I want it to be satisfying food that everyone takes pleasure in eating.”
So that’s it! For now anyway… I might start doing a recommended book once a month, what do you think?
I’d love to hear your recommendations too, comment or email me if you have any books that have helped you!
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