As yesterday marked World Mental Health Day, we take a look at some of the best books on the topic of mental health.

As people adjust to this new normal of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there may be some who may find it difficult to deal with the isolation and uncertainty. From professional recommendations to books that people have found helpful, we have curated a list of ten books that will hopefully help you cope during this time.


1. Detox Your Thoughts by Andrea Bonior
Toxic thought patterns zap your energy, kill your motivation and upset your calm. The good news is that you can change not just the way you think, but the way your brain is wired. In this book, clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior uses techniques from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and mindfulness to teach you to understand your thoughts – and your body – in a completely different way.
Buy it here.

2. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne
Celebrating 30 years as a classic in its field and recommended by therapists worldwide, this book is an unparalleled and essential resource for people struggling with anxiety and phobias. Living with anxiety, panic disorders or phobias can make you feel like you aren’t in control of your life. Tackle the fears that hold you back with this go-to guide. Packed with the most effective skills for assessing and treating anxiety, this evidence-based workbook contains the latest clinical research. You’ll find an arsenal of tools for quieting worry, ending negative self-talk, and taking charge of your anxious thoughts, including relaxation and breathing techniques; new research on exposure therapy for phobias; and lifestyle, exercise, mindfulness and nutrition tips.
Buy it here.

3. Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser
This inspiring guide to healing and growth illuminates the richness and potential of every life, even in the face of loss and adversity. In the more than twenty-five years since she co-founded the Omega Institute – now the world’s largest centre for spiritual retreat and personal growth – Elizabeth Lesser has been an intimate witness to the ways in which people weather change and transition. In a beautifully crafted blend of moving stories, humorous insights, practical guidance and personal memoir, she offers tools to help us make the choice we all face in times of challenge.
Buy it here.

4. Rewire Your Anxious Brain by Catherine M. Pittman and Elizabeth M. Karle
In the book, you will learn how the amygdala and cortex (both important parts of the brain) are essential players in the neuropsychology of anxiety. The amygdala acts as a primal response, and oftentimes, when this part of the brain processes fear, you may not even understand why you are afraid. By comparison, the cortex is the centre of ‘worry’. That is, obsessing, ruminating, and dwelling on things that may or may not happen. In the book, Pittman and Karle make it simple by offering specific examples of how to manage fear by tapping into both of these pathways in the brain.
Buy it here.

5. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön
Pema Chödrön's perennially bestselling classic on overcoming life’s difficulties cuts to the heart of spirituality and personal growth. How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom, she offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns into habitual ease and boundless joy.
Buy it here.

6. Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability – the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome – is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity and joy. But living a brave life is not always easy: we are, inevitably, going to stumble and fall.
It is the rise from falling that Brown takes as her subject. As a grounded theory researcher, Brown has listened as a range of people – from the leaders of Fortune 500 companies and the military to artists, couples in long-term relationships, teachers and parents – shared their stories of being brave, falling and getting back up. She asked herself, ‘what do these people with strong and loving relationships, leaders nurturing creativity, artists pushing innovation, and clergy walking with people through faith and mystery have in common?’ The answer was clear – they recognize the power of emotion and they’re not afraid to lean into discomfort.
Buy it here.

7. Notes to Self: A Journal for Self-Care by Lisa Currie
Self-care has become a buzzword – and a necessary part of life in our stressful and uncertain times. As this creative, insightful journal demonstrates on every page, self-care is whatever you want it to be – taking a walk in nature; meeting a friend for tea; revising that bucket list or writing one for the first time. Bestselling illustrator and author Lisa Currie encourages and inspires us to carve out some quality time to take care of the most important person in your – yourself.
Buy it here.

8. Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan
In Joy on Demand, Chade-Meng Tan shows that you don’t need to meditate for hours, days, months or years to achieve lasting joy – you can actually get consistent access to it in as little as fifteen seconds. Explaining joy and meditation as complementary things that naturally reinforce each other, Meng explains how these two skills form a virtuous cycle, and once put into motion, become a solid practise that can be sustained in daily life.
Buy it here.

9. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
Trauma is a fact of life. Dr Bessel van der Kolk, a foremost expert on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control and trust. He explores innovative treatments – from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama and yoga – that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on his own research and that of other leading specialists, the book exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal – and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.
Buy it here.

10. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin
Everyone knows that regular exercise and weight training lead to physical strength. But how do we strengthen ourselves mentally for the truly tough times? And what should we do when we face these challenges? Through her years counselling others and her own experiences navigating personal loss, Amy Morin realised it is often the habits we cannot break that are holding us back from true success and happiness. Indulging in self-pity, agonising over things beyond our control, obsessing over past events, resenting the achievements of others or expecting immediate positive results holds us back.
In this book, Morin expands upon these thirteen things from her viral post and shares her tried-and-true practices for increasing mental strength. Morin writes with searing honesty, incorporating anecdotes from her work as a college psychology instructor and psychotherapist as well as personal stories about how she bolstered her own mental strength when tragedy threatened to consume her. Increasing your mental strength can change your entire attitude. It takes practice and hard work, but with Morin’s specific tips, exercises and troubleshooting advice, it is possible to not only fortify your mental muscle but also drastically improve the quality of your life.
Buy it here.