We all have mental health and we can all feel down from time to time. Mental health impacts every aspect of our lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. Mental illnesses have always been here but thankfully we are now living in a society that is beginning to understand the importance of discussing these issues and being more accepting of individuals who struggle with their mental wellbeing.

World Mental Health Day (October 10th) and Mental Health Awareness Week (13th - 19th May 2024) are dates created to encourage us all to talk about mental health and show everyone that mental health matters. These are also times to let people know that it’s okay to ask for help, no matter what you’re going through. However taking the time to open up to loved ones, to share our thoughts and offer support to others can and should be done all year round. 

For many, knowing where to begin can be a challenge. Even defining the term can be difficult, as it applies to a broad range of conditions, disorders, and issues, from stress, anxiety and depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Understanding these issues is an important first step to coping and surviving the difficult times, and helping others do the same.

Research shows that there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life:

  • Connect with other people
  • Be physically active
  • Learn new skills
  • Give to others
  • Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

The collection of books we have compiled here are united in their focus on mental health. They are united in their support of positive mental health and offer clarity and insight into important areas of wellbeing as well as methods to help people cope in moments of despair.

Let's share some in more detail that we believe deserve an extra mention.

The gorgeous Fearne Cotton has a couple of titles on this list, and deservedly so. Founder of @happyplaceofficial Cotton has an honest, authentic and accessible approach to self-care that has supported people everywhere. In Bigger Than Us she talks to "amazing brains" to give us insight into how we stop the self-limiting beliefs and implement change to maximum effect in our own lives. Calm helps us to find calm in our modern, hectic lives, a helping hand as it were.

Cathy Rentzenbrink absolutely deserves a mention too as she shares the advice that has seen her through life's ups and downs. She is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller The Last Act of Love, How to Feel Better (A Manual for Heartache), Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books, and Everyone Is Still Alive. It took her twenty years to wrestle her own life story on the page and she loves to use what she has learnt about the profound nature of writing the self in the service of others. Matt Haig calls How To Feel Better, "a tender appreciation of life's beauty".

Talking of Matt Haig, who has written a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, it would be remiss of us not to mention him here. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. We called it an inspiring, honest, hopeful and vivid read. Haig famously has struggled with his mental health and because of his honest, intelligent, insightful approach is one of the most inspirational and popular writers on mental health today. Buy The Comfort Book and keep it close: it's a beautifully packaged, beautifully comforting hug in a book and an antidote to today’s busy lifestyles, medicine for our crazy lives.

This Too Shall Pass by Julia Samuel is a remarkable book that looks at the hard times unflinchingly. Acclaimed psychotherapist author Samuel provides a valuable and insightful guide to surviving modern life and the perspectives on the self.  If change is the natural order of things, why do we struggle with the inevitable nature of change particularly at significant milestones in our lives?

Anyone who has ever experienced anxiety knows that it can creep up on you, it can come in waves, and can grow inside of you, balling up in your stomach, complemented by that little voice eating away at your self confidence, the negative inner dialogue winning. The Anxiety Antidote by Kamran Bedi serves to ease your anxiety and activate your self discovery with this new book of nourishment capable of taking you from limited to limitless.

How To Deal With Angry People is a helpful book for anyone who has ever encountered an unruly customer, open hostility, road rage, or an online confrontation, "The Anger Professor" delivers ten strategies for facing anger at home, at work and in the street or digitally. 

For those contemplating their more destructive behaviours, Hooked by Talitha Fosh is a "compassionate and approachable guide to addictive behaviours from an experienced psychotherapist". Offering advice on acknowledging and then breaking destructive addictive behaviours, you don't have to be an "addict" to benefit from this book. If you look for a boost from shopping, avoid difficult emotions by distracting yourself with social media and so much more, this book offers advice to help you break the habits that are holding you back. 

Readers wanting to change their relationship with alcohol specifically, Soberish by Kayla Lyons, founder of Join Soberish and 1,000 Hours Dry (The Dry Club) is a non-judgemental guide to create a relationship with alcohol that works for them. Aimed mainly at millennials and Gen Z but can be read by anyone, this powerful and important read is "full of evidence-based information and real-world experiences from Kayla and other contributors".

If this year is the one you want to dedicate to finally realising your potential, Richard Sutton, leading advisor in the field of high-level sports performance, can help you harness your resilience and realise your potential with Thrive. "A fascinating, practical, implementable toolkit to realising your full potential through unlocking and channelling the power of resilience." Sutton has helped some of the world's top sports stars and business leaders to achieve their full potential and now he's making the tools they use available to his readers. 

If you just want a hug in a book, want to take comfort in your reading material, and be transported someplace else, check out our hug in a book collection.

Losing yourself in a good book has been shown to reduce your levels of stress. Research by Dr David Lewis showed that reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 60% by reducing your heart rate, easing muscle tension and altering your state of mind.

That same study showed that reading was better at reducing stress than music, drinking a cup of tea, going for a walk and playing video games.

What are you waiting for? Go on, and grab a book.

For this World Mental Health Day and every day, look after yourself and take comfort in a book. 

For more information visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/


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