Books for the anxious gal?
June 26, 2011 7:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm an anxious gal who finds that reading books about anxiety, self-compassion, mindfulness and meditation really helps me set a plan for what to do and how to get better. But there are so many of these books, I don't know where to start. What books would you recommend?

I read past questions on this topic know that Burn's Feeling Good is recommended for people suffering with anxiety/depression, and Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong for anxiety. I'm liking Terribly, Horribly Wrong so far.

I read There is Nothing Wrong with You, which really helped, but was written in a style that is almost the polar opposite of what I like, to the point that acknowledging some of her points was difficult because the writing style was such a turn-off.

I prefer dry, or drily funny, writing, with or without scientific "proof." But if it does try to make scientific claims, I want them not to smell fishy because I will be searching for primary sources on academic databases faster than you can say "meta-analysis."

I'm a huge religion nerd, so I'm actually fine with religiously-oriented books from all traditions (Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Taoist, etc.) so long as they don't hinge on specific religious practices having meaning to me, or hinge on the faith itself.
posted by flibbertigibbet to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 98 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've found The Lost Art of Compassion and The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion to be useful; they're both based in Buddhism and psychology. Awakening the Buddha Within was also helpful for me getting more habituated to meditation.
posted by scody at 7:20 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Constructive Living
posted by Ideefixe at 7:26 PM on June 26, 2011

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living -- cheesy, but really helpful.
posted by caoimhe at 7:31 PM on June 26, 2011

I kind of like Dean Sluyter's writings.
posted by HopperFan at 7:43 PM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: Have you read any Pema Chodron? I'm also an anxious gal who likes to read books that put me on the right track. I love her books - Buddhist philosophy in plain terms. Easy, gentle reads. I suggest starting with When Things Fall Apart and The Wisdom of No Escape.
posted by Laura Macbeth at 7:50 PM on June 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Since Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong is based on ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) you might like other ACT-based books: The Happiness Trap and a workbook, Get Out of Your Mind and into Your Life.
posted by la petite marie at 8:47 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cheri Huber, There Is Nothing Wrong With You.

Imagine: There is nothing wrong with you. Really. Truly. Honestly.
posted by droplet at 9:16 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I didn't read carefully. My bad.

Tara Brach's Radical Acceptance might be more up your street.
posted by droplet at 9:21 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I hated David Burns. I found his writing style patronizing and populist and only made it through about 1/3 of the book. If CBT is something you're interested in for combating "automative negative thoughts" (and I do recommend it as an easy way to recognize that you're caught in negative thinking), there are tons of places to get CBT exercises without wading through his dreck.

Mood Gym is a great resource with a series of online modules to work through, and even though it seems a little simplistic at first the principles are sound. The other tool I like is End ANTs which has a super simple interface for dealing with individual negative thoughts and walking you through deconstructing them. If you'd rather do it on your own without some sort of online tool, here's a good template (pdf) for recording your thoughts. Wikipedia also has a good overview of the typical cognitive distortions you're likely to run into when you're caught in a spiral of anxiety, and thus, what to look out for.

For books, I would recommend:

Self-Coaching: How to Heal Anxiety and Depression
Managing Your Mind

Managing Your Mind is a little all over the place and deals with a whole variety of different mental health issues, which I found interesting academically if not personally.

I don't know if this applies to you, but when I get all anxious and blah I tend to also have issues getting myself motivated because everything just seems so pointless man, and I found The Now Habit helpful for snapping myself out of that.
posted by Phire at 10:08 PM on June 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I recently read Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, and found it quite useful. The author, Kristin Neff, has actually published some papers on the topic herself in peer-reviewed journals, so the scientific references seem sound (though, not being a psychologist, I don't know if the journals in question are prestigious or marginal.)
posted by fermion at 10:13 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Chemistry of Calm by Henry Emmons. You might also like his other book (purportedly more about depression, but super helpful for this anxious gal right here), called The Chemistry of Joy.
posted by Betty's Table at 10:13 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Someone on Metafilter ... forgetting who right at the second ... keeps mentioning Brené Brown. After watching her TED talk, I've had her books flagged to read for a while, one on shame, and one on loving oneself and living wholeheartedly. She is very much about self-compassion and embracing your imperfections, so the topics might be interesting for you. (Her public speaking style is warmer than the tone of books on meditation that I've read, though, so these may not be quite as dry as you'd prefer?)
posted by salvia at 12:46 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've really enjoyed The Ten Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques. It has actually helped me (for good?) get rid of my obsessive thoughts. That was the biggest problem I was having - now have to go back and read again for just general anxiety.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:56 AM on June 27, 2011

I really enjoy reading books by Jiddu Krishnamurti. He is extremely insightful.
posted by Jibuzaemon at 8:49 AM on June 27, 2011

Seconding "The Wisdom of No Escape". My favorite of Pema's books.
posted by doctord at 9:34 AM on June 27, 2011

Focusing is an indispensable complement to a meditation practice. It's not quite CBT and not quite meditation. It has research to back it up.
posted by zeek321 at 10:21 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Anything by Alan Watts is great.
posted by MillMan at 11:11 AM on June 27, 2011

Response by poster: I just favourited the answers that I either bought or already had. All the other suggestions are on my wishlist, thank you so much!
posted by flibbertigibbet at 9:34 PM on June 27, 2011

I highly highly recommend The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh!

Well worth a read, pretty short, and it changed my life.
posted by masters2010 at 4:00 AM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I am Anxiety Gal, and I can tell you that I found the following books to be a great source of inspiration for discovering the root my anxiety issues.

For my career anxiety, I highly recommend all books written by Barbara Sher. My personal favorites are I Could Do Anything if I Only Knew What it Was and Live the Life You Love.

For other anxiety, I have loved books by Brene Brown. I Thought it was Just Me, But it Isn't and The Gifts of Imperfection.

I hope this gives you more resources to help you manage your is an ongoing process.
posted by Anxiety Gal at 11:53 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

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