13 Stress-Relief Books About the Science of Managing Anxiety

Stress Relief BooksManaging anxiety and stress can be a daunting task, especially for those who do not have the skills or knowledge to understand where these emotional states are manifesting from.

Anxiety and stress can interfere with an individual’s mental health and wellbeing. Fortunately, education on new techniques to help combat stress and anxiety can help.

This article will provide several resources that explain the origins of stress and anxiety as well as coping strategies from several therapeutic areas. By providing a wide range of coping strategies, we hope that everyone reading this article can find a technique that works for them.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF) for free. These science-based exercises will equip you and your clients with tools to better manage stress and find a healthier balance in your life.

7 Psychology Books About Anxiety

Although the terms stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably, they are responses that occur in different situations. Stress occurs in response to external events (e.g., an upcoming presentation at work, a change in your family dynamic, or job loss) that are difficult to cope with (Canadian Mental Health Association, n.d.).

A person who is stressed typically knows what they are stressed about and understands where the changes in mood, emotions, and physical health are coming from.

In contrast, anxiety is centered around fear and anticipation of things that can potentially threaten us in the future, which can connect to stress (Canadian Mental Health Association, n.d.).

Often, these fears are motivated by previously stressful events that individuals have been exposed to. For example, an individual may have social anxiety about getting together in large groups because they were mocked as a child or had trouble connecting with other people.

These books can provide strategies and techniques about how to relieve stress and how anxiety manifests, as well as the biological origins surrounding both emotional states.

 

1. Be Calm: Proven Techniques to Stop Anxiety Now – Jill Weber

Be Calm

This book is an excellent resource for individuals who experience anxiety-related symptoms.

It categorizes the symptoms that someone might experience because of anxiety (e.g., worrying, avoidance behavior, or panic). Readers can use the index to find the specific issue they are experiencing and get specific tools to help them alleviate their symptoms.

The book also provides journaling prompts with a “Go Deeper” section that encourages readers to think in more detail about what may drive their anxiety.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

2. Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind: How to Stop the Cycle of Anxiety, Fear and Worry – Jennifer Shannon

Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind

Some of the coping strategies we use to ease anxiety-related symptoms can actually make it worse.

Shannon compares the human brain to our primate ancestors, likening anxiety symptoms to the flight or fight response that has been present as a survival mechanism.

By categorizing three common assumptions that are shared by most anxious people (intolerance of uncertainty, perfectionism, and over-responsibility), Shannon provides cognitive-behavioral strategies that can help challenge these assumptions that cause anxious behaviors.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

3. How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety – Ellen Hendriksen

How To Be Yourself

This book is focused on helping individuals who are experiencing issues with social anxiety.

Hendriksen gives readers an introduction to different manifestations of social anxiety with case studies of individuals experiencing various forms of anxiety in social situations.

In contrast to other psychological approaches to social anxiety, Hendriksen emphasizes that individuals suffering from social anxiety already have the tools to combat it.

Combating social anxiety involves quieting your inner critic to feel more comfortable in difficult situations.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

4. Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind – Judson Brewer

Unwinding Anxiety

This book focuses on the importance of identifying the science of how anxious habits get formed in our brains.

By combining the science behind anxiety with these clinical approaches, readers can get an understanding of how these techniques can alleviate their anxiety.

The book is divided into sections; one of the most relevant – Anxiety Goes Viral – describes the increased rate of anxiety-related diagnoses throughout the population.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

5. Taking Control of Anxiety: Small Steps for Getting the Best of Worry, Stress and Fear – Bret A. Moore

Taking Control of AnxietyThis is an excellent guide for individuals who need workable tips to help deal with anxiety-related symptoms.

The book provides an introduction for individuals who are dealing with anxiety, a brief explanation of how anxiety manifests, descriptions of different therapeutic methodologies, and easy, workable ways to help integrate them.

The final chapter of the book is unique, as it provides a year’s worth of quotes and tips to help individuals manage their anxiety, no matter what stage of the process they are in.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

6. The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points – Alice Boyes

The Anxiety Toolkit

Focused on combating anxiety in specific situations, this book gives readers valuable information surrounding social anxiety or anxiety related to work or business.

Each chapter has specific anxiety worksheets that readers can work through to discover what triggers their anxiety and find the most effective strategies to manage specific symptoms.

The beginning of each chapter also has a quiz where readers can identify if the symptoms and issues discussed apply to their situation.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

7. The Anxiety First Aid Kit: Quick Tools for Extreme, Uncertain Times – Rick Hanson et al.

The Anxiety First Aid KitWhen you are feeling unprecedented levels of anxiety and stress, this book can help you deal with anxiety as soon as it manifests.

Coping strategies are triaged based on the level of anxiety the individual is experiencing and the situation they are in.

Even though the book provides traditional ways to combat anxiety, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness, it also provides strategies that are a bit more unique (e.g., repeating or writing down your most bizarre thought until it loses its meaning).

Each strategy also lists the action steps that the reader needs to take so that they are clear on how to implement them.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

3 Psychology Books About Stress

1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things From Taking Over Your Life – Richard Carlson

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

The premise of this book is simple: there is nothing worth worrying about that should ruin your life or drive you to a point where you are struggling to function.

Each chapter has a title centered on a suggestion (e.g., “Make Peace with Imperfection”) and aims to provide readers with advice about how to overcome stressful emotions.

This book is a great guide to carry with you if you are going through a particularly stressful time, as it provides quick reminders on how to deal with stress effectively.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

2. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers – Robert M. Sapolsky

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

This book combines knowledge about stress-related conditions, such as addiction, personality disorders, and anxiety, with workable guidance to help control stress responses.

It starts by describing the stress-related ailments that can wreak havoc on an individual’s mental and physical health. It uses real-world concepts and examples to explain more complicated medical issues that can emerge because of stress.

Even though the book is extremely scientific and provides several research studies that back up its claims, it still integrates dry humor into its explanations, which makes it more accessible to individuals who may not specialize in medicine or psychology.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

3. The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It – Kelly McGonigal

The Upside of Stress

Although stress can be hard on the body, it can also help us grow and become more resilient.

McGonigal focuses on helping readers retrain their mindset around stress and deemphasize the idea that ‘stress is harmful.’

Stress has been found to have many benefits, such as giving individuals greater focus, strengthening personal relationships, and increasing resilience to challenging situations.

McGonigal provides readers with several reflective exercises to assess and reframe their mindset around stress.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

How to Manage Stress: 3 Best Stress-Relief Books

Managing stress is a personal process that largely depends on an individual’s circumstances and the situations or events that are causing the stress response.

These books provide an excellent starting point to learn more about what happens in a person’s body and mind when stressed and also how to relieve stress symptoms impacting daily life.

 

1. Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom – Rick Hanson with Richard Mendius

Buddha's Brain

This book provides guidance on how to engage in mindfulness and relaxation, and goes into detail about how these processes are connected to our neurological systems.

For example, the breathing exercises that individuals engage in during their mindfulness practice are connected to the parasympathetic system, responsible for producing a balanced and peaceful state.

Descriptions of how each neurological system connects with relaxation and mindfulness practices provide evidence-based reasoning that details why these practices work and how they can help you manage stress.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

2. The Stress-Proof Brain: Master Your Emotional Response to Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity – Melanie Greenberg

The Stress-Proof Brain

This book provides an overview of how your body reacts to stress so that you can understand how stress manifests and what physical systems are activated.

The book also provides insight into the body’s biological responses to stress, specifically rumination and avoidance habits that can cause stress to manifest constantly.

It also provides exercises in positive psychology, mindfulness, and neuroscience to give readers the tools to cope with stressful situations. Greenberg emphasizes that it is your response to stressful situations that change your outlook and approach to stress.

Therefore, it is important to understand where stress comes from and how you can change your outlook to combat it.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

3. The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook – Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, and Matthew McKay

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook

This workbook introduces clinically proven strategies to help readers engage in stress management and relaxation techniques.

The first two chapters are vital, as they give readers the opportunity to analyze the situations that cause them the most stress and their personal responses to stress.

After readers complete this assessment, they can determine which chapters will be most useful for their specific situation and personality.

Coping strategies in the chapters range from relaxation exercises, time management, diet and exercise, and environmental and interpersonal stress.

This allows readers to educate themselves in a variety of domains to better cope with their individual situations.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

Stress-Relief Resources From PositivePsychology.com

There are several resources available on our site that support healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress.

  • Coping With Stress
    This worksheet is an excellent starting point for individuals experiencing stress. It asks you to identify what life situations cause you stress and recognize how they may impact you. Upon reflecting on this, you then are asked to think about healthier coping strategies that can reduce your stress.

  • Changing Physical Habits
    Changing your physical habits is often the first step to relieving stress. This exercise gives you the opportunity to reflect on your current habits and question how they are affecting your daily life. After engaging in that reflection, you can question whether or not you want to change your habits to ones that are more fulfilling.

  • Identifying Your Stress Resources
    Knowing what resources and individuals are in your corner can sometimes be extremely comforting. This exercise encourages you to list your support, including the individuals, institutions, and strengths you can draw from during stressful times.

  • One-Hour Stress Plan
    This worksheet provides you with an opportunity to relieve stress in a short time. It is ideal if you have several tasks that have to be completed, as the worksheet asks you to engage in time management strategies to help chunk how long different tasks might take.

  • Stress Decision Framework
    Decision-making is a practice that individuals experiencing stress and anxiety often struggle with. This worksheet allows you to weigh your decisions and encourages you to give yourself criteria for a ‘good enough’ decision.

  • 17 Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises
    If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others manage stress without spending hours on research and session prep, check out this collection of 17 validated stress-management tools for practitioners. Use them to help others identify signs of burnout and create more balance in their lives.

 

A Take-Home Message

Stress and anxiety are emotional states that all of us experience at certain points in our lives. One important thing you can do if you are experiencing stress or anxiety is to understand what is causing it and what response the situation is eliciting.

In addition to the resources listed in this article, tracking your responses to situations that cause you stress or anxiety is a good starting point to identify where you are having difficulty. Keeping a mood journal where you list these situations and your reaction can help you identify which parts of your life are more taxing and where you need to start to ease your symptoms.

It is also important to know when your stress and anxiety are becoming too severe for you to handle on your own. If you have been struggling for a long time or are having trouble functioning in your daily activities, seek the help of a trained therapist or counselor. If you are experiencing suicidal ideation, please contact one of the following numbers in your respective country:

  • United States: National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255
  • United Kingdom: Samaritans hotline at 116 123
  • The Netherlands: Netherlands Suicide Hotline at 0900 0767
  • France: Suicide écoute at 01 45 39 40 00
  • Australia: Lifeline at 13 11 14
  • Germany: Telefonseelsorge at 0800 111 0 111 for Protestants, 0800 111 0 222 for Catholics, and 0800 111 0 333 for children and youth

For a list of other suicide prevention websites, phone numbers, and resources, see this website or consult Open Counseling’s list of International Suicide and Emergency Hotlines. Resources are listed by country, and you can click on the ‘more hotlines’ and ‘in-person counseling’ tabs to get further help.

We hope this article provides you with a starting point to help you manage your stress and anxiety. Stay well and do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF) for free.

  • Boyes, A. (2015). The anxiety toolkit: Strategies for fine-tuning your mind and moving past your stuck points. Tarcher Perigee.
  • Brewer, J. (2021). Unwinding anxiety: New science shows how to break the cycles of worry and fear to heal your mind. Avery.
  • Canadian Mental Health Association. (n.d.). What’s the difference between anxiety and stress? HeretoHelp. Retrieved November 1, 2021, from https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/q-and-a/whats-the-difference-between-anxiety-and-stress
  • Carlson, R. (1997). Don’t sweat the small stuff… and it’s all small stuff: Simple ways to keep little things from taking over your life. Hyperion.
  • Davis, M., Eshelman, E. R., & McKay, M. (2019). The relaxation & stress reduction workbook (7th ed.). New Harbinger.
  • Greenberg, M. (2017). The stress-proof brain: Master your emotional response to stress using mindfulness and neuroplasticity. New Harbinger.
  • Hanson, R. (2009). Buddha’s brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, and wisdom. New Harbinger.
  • Hanson, R., McKay, M., Davis, M., Robbins-Eshelman, E., Seif, M. N., Winston, S. M., … Karle, E. M. (2020). The anxiety first aid kit: Quick tools for extreme, uncertain times. New Harbinger.
  • Hendriksen, E. (2018). How to be yourself: Quiet your inner critic and rise above social anxiety. St. Martin’s Press.
  • McGonigal, K. (2016). The upside of stress: Why stress is good for you and how to get good at it. Avery.
  • Moore, B. A. (2014). Taking control of anxiety: Small steps for getting the best of worry, stress and fear. American Psychological Association.
  • Sapolsky, R. M. (2004). Why zebras don’t get ulcers (3rd ed.). Holt Paperbacks.
  • Shannon, J. (2017). Don’t feed the monkey mind: How to stop the cycle of anxiety, fear and worry. New Harbinger.
  • Weber, J. (2019). Be calm: Proven techniques to stop anxiety now. Althea Press.

About the Author

Dr. Gabriella obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto (OISE) in Developmental Psychology and Education where her research is centered around emotions, instruction, and online learning. She currently works as a psychological consultant with children, adolescents, and adults in Toronto, Canada. In her spare time, she enjoys building her writing portfolio, spending time with her family, and walking her dog.

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