As the coronavirus pandemic continues and other tragedies strike throughout the world, many people are feeling overwhelmed. With as crazy as this year has been, it can be hard to see past the mental block. These books for anxiety may help you get through 2020 in one piece. This list is also available on our page at Bookshop.org.
Rest assured, you are not alone. According to the CDC, 1 in 6 adults experiences depression or anxiety at some point. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety for more than a decade, I know it can seem like way too much, even with a list of books for anxiety at your disposal. For a list of COVID-19 anxiety reduction strategies, check out the ADAA website. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of hurting themselves, please seek immediate help. Call 1−800−273−TALK (8255) to reach a 24−hour crisis center.
Written by Ari Bachechi, Data Operations Coordinator
Radical Compassion by Tara Brach
Tara Brach has helped me a lot through my journey with mental illness. Not only does she have several books for anxiety, she also has guided meditations and online events. This book focuses on practical meditation strategies to deal with feelings of anxiety and trauma. Considering the collective trauma we are all going through, having a few long term strategies in your back pocket may be worth it.
The Anxiety Virus: 3 Essential Strategies to Build Immunity to Uncertainty in the COVID Crisis by Jennifer Shannon, LMFT and Doug Shannon
While I haven’t read this new book personally, it has already received good reviews. Focusing specifically on anxiety generated by the pandemic, it offers several strategies for coping. It is also a short read at 79 pages, so if you’re having a hard time focusing, this may be a good place to start.
Break Free from Anxiety: Steps, Strategies, and Secrets to Overcome Panic, Worry, and Fear – A Coloring, Self-Help Book by Ken Goodman, LCSW and Alexis Lake
This is an all-star book for anxiety in my opinion. Not only does it help you train your brain to stop listening to your anxious thoughts and think of problems in a new way, it also incorporates its own relaxing activity in the form of coloring pages. Coloring can not only help you relax, it can also help pass the time if you are stuck at home.
Sustaining Spirit: Self-Care for Social Justice by Naomi Ortiz
We know that not all anxiety right now is being generated by the pandemic. If you’re feeling burnt out by social justice work, this book is a good place to start. An important thing to remember when working through anxiety is that we are best equipped to help others when we are feeling okay ourselves. Take some time for self-care with tips and stories from 30 amazing writers in this book. If you’re looking for more in this vein, visit our recommendation list of Black writers and their stories. As a bonus, some of the best books for anxiety are novels, and that list has several amazing ones.
Wilma Jean, The Worry Machine by Julia Cook
Not everyone with anxiety is an adult. Parents can be quick to dismiss children’s fears, but this book does quite the opposite. It follows a girl named Wilma Jean who worries so much it makes her feel sick. Luckily, she asks the adults in her life for help, and they are able to teach her some coping strategies. Not only can this book open a dialogue with kids about how to deal with fear and situations out of their control, it can also help remind adults that everyone has fear and anxiety and that is okay.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
If your child is a little too old for the suggestion above, Turtles All the Way Down is a young adult book for anxiety inspired by Green’s own experiences. It follows a group of teenagers in typical YA fashion, but also weaves in the anxious and obsessive tendencies of main character Aza. Teens and adults alike may find a reflection of themselves in this novel, and therefore some solace.
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne, PhD
Are you the type of person who needs a book for anxiety because it’s really hard to deal with things out of your control (looking at you, fellow former gifted kids)? This workbook may be a partial solution. This book is literally a step-by-step guide to different types of coping mechanisms. It allows you to indulge in the rigid structure that can help anxious people feel more in control of their lives while also teaching you that some things are simply uncontrollable.
Women Who Think Too Much by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema
While anxiety can affect anyone, studies have shown that it is more common among women than men. During the pandemic, many women have felt increasingly burdened by childcare and household responsibilities in addition to work and generalized anxiety. This book is aimed specifically at women who constantly overthink things, examining why that is and how to combat it.
Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation by Jim Downs
Once again, we recognize that not all anxiety coming to light right now is based solely on the pandemic. Many LGBT+ people are still closeted and afraid even while spending large amounts of time with their households right now. Though this book is not specifically a book for anxiety, it is an interesting history of the gay rights movement and what it stands for. I can only hope that reading it will either help people feel less alone, or will help non-LGBT+ people understand why their LGBT+ friends and family feel the anxieties that they do.
Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety by Robert Duff
If you’re feeling a little angry at your anxiety — and let’s face it, who isn’t — this book for anxiety might be the best option for you. Similar to The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, it addresses anxiety with specific tips and coping mechanisms, but this time with plenty of swearing. The point is that anxiety sucks and working on our mental health should not be a chore. To that end, it is also rather short, letting you take it at your own pace.