The Best Books on COVID Stress Management

The Best Books on COVID Stress Management

As we are all settling into our new “normal” of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, there has been an increase in conversation nationwide around stress and anxiety. Maybe you’ve seen inspirational memes or gifs on social media, or articles circulating about self care in a time of great uncertainty.

There are a ton of great resources on the internet right now. It’s been amazing to see how our culture has come together to push back on fear in light of this coronavirus.

With all of the resources out there, it can sometimes be hard to sort through it all. To make things simple, we have distilled our reading list down to what we think are the 2 best books on the subject right now. And they’re titles we haven’t seen mentioned very much elsewhere.

Best part? They’re both available on Audible!

“Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” by Robert Sapolsky

This is probably the best book I have ever read on the subject of stress. It’s not a quick read, but totally worth the effort. Sapolsky is a neuroendocrinologist and professor of biology, neurology, and neurosurgery at Stanford. It’s nowhere near as intense as a textbook, but be prepared. You will see words like “glucocorticoid” a lot. If you want a foundational introduction to what actually is “stress,” this is your book. If you’re the kind of person who asks “why?” when your therapist or the CDC recommend that you meditate or go for a run to help manage anxiety, this is your book.

“Antifragile” by Nasmim Taleb

This is not a book about therapy. Or mental health. But it is incredibly relevant nonetheless. Some things in life suffer when exposed to volatility. We call those things “fragile” (Think: long-stem wine glasses, flowers, etc.). Other things are indifferent to volatility. You could call those things “robust.” These are things that stand the test of time, unchanged, regardless of their exposure to volatility. The works of Mark Twain or Jane Austen, for example. And then there’s a third category: the opposite of fragile. These are things that actually benefit from the harshness of volatility. Muscles in response to weight training for example. Or just about any of the world’s major religions in response to persecution. There are some things in life that aren’t just indifferent to volatility, they seem to actually benefit from it. This is a book about those things. Taleb is a former options trader and risk analyst, so most of the book has a bend toward economics and finance, but I’ve found a lot of his material extremely relevant to what we are going through as a culture right now. Combine one part Taleb’s “post-traumatic growth” with one part Brené Brown or Kristin Neff “self compassion” and you’ve got a recipe to develop some serious and sustainable mental toughness in the midst of this crazy chapter of life we’re all in right now.

We are always on the hunt for more books about stress and anxiety. If you have any recommendations, email them to us! We’d love to hear.

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