When everything is upside down it can be even more difficult to find your calm. But by practicing mindfulness – the act of being aware and appreciative of the present moment – we can all bring ourselves a little bit close to that a elusive state. So from practicing gratitude to banishing distractions, here are a bunch of books to destress, re-center, and generally take back control over your mental wellbeing.
365 Gentle Reminders: Daily Positive Affirmations by Natalie Dormady
(Liminal 11, 9781912634279, £12.99, p/b)
Sometimes you just need to take a minute to remember not everything is doom and gloom. 365 Daily Reminders is a beautifully illustrated book of affirmations, designed to set you up for a good day. With a different illustration for every day of the year, this is a lovely book to start the day with. A few minutes of positive reflection can make a world of difference, and 365 Gentle Reminders is the perfect way to achieve it.
The Mindfulness Journal: The Ultimate Guide to Well-Being by Anne Marie O’Connor (Centennial Books, 9781951274191, £12.99, p/b)
It’s all well and good to read about mindfulness, but it’s another to put it into practice. Cue The Mindfulness Journal, a friendly and accessible workbook to help you figure out this mindfulness thing. It contains everything from prompts to encourage self-reflectiveness, to drawing activities and craft projects, demystifying the processes involved in taking charge of your own mental wellness.
The Phone Addiction Workbook by Hilda Burke
(Ulysses Press, 9781612439037, £13.99, p/b)
Like most of us, I’ve found myself glued to the screen even more than usual the past year. Partly to stay in touch with friends and family, sure, but partly to do some very unhealthy doomscrolling. I’ve had a look at my screentime reports, and they are not pretty. If you find yourself in a similar situation and want to do something about it, The Phone Addiction Workbook is a good place to start. Full of practical tips, activities, and weekly charts, it helps change your smartphone behaviour, hopefully leading to a less doomscrolling-filled life.
How To Breathe: 25 Simple Practices for Calm, Joy and Resilience by Ashley Neese (September Publishing, 9781912836093, £10.99, h/b)
Breathwork has been much-talked about lately, and there are several very good reasons for this: Anyone can do it anywhere, anytime; It takes no equipment other than your own two lungs; and it can be effective at easing anxiety, managing anger, aiding sleep, and more. This beautiful little book from September Publishing is written by an expert on the practice. Breathwork teacher Ashley Neese also has experience in meditation and yoga, and uses this expertise to share 25 simple practices channelling the power of the breath.
The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage by Kelly McGonigal, PhD
(Avery, 9780525534105, £22.99, h/b)
I don’t know about you, but during this most recent lockdown where I live, I’ve been living for my one allowed walk a day, and discovering how vital it is to my general happiness. In this positive popular science book McGonigal lays out just why that might be. This is an engaging ode to the possibilities of finding joy through moving one’s body, and a fascinating trip around the globe, from a dance class at Juilliard to hunter-gatherers in Tanzania. McGonigal sidesteps the usual ‘exercise and you will feel better’ clichés to paint a fresh and convincing picture, drawing insights from neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology.
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
(Melville House US, 9781612198552, £12.99)
At this point, staying at home all day is old news. However, it can be hard not to spend far too much time engaging in social media, constantly trying to distract oneself, and avoiding spending time alone with your own thoughts. Artist and writer Jenny Odell has written a thrilling critique here on the relentless forces vying for our attention from our phones and our computers, a timely anti-capitalist and nuanced look at the attention economy. In a time where forces all around us aim to capitalise on every waking second of our day, Odell presents a reasoned argument on the power and benefit of doing absolutely nothing. Sounds wonderful to me.
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