Anxiety is normal; it alerts us to potential real-life dangers and helps to keep us safe. Most people can deal with this type of anxiety, it is a universal human experience. In other cases, anxiety surges out of control, becoming incapacitating. If you are incapacitated by anxiety go to a medical professional, the Biblio-coach cannot help you! However, if you are a person that just leans towards being anxious, you need as many tools as possible to help you live well in spite of the useless worry that zaps your energy and drive. To learn strategies to help yourself, the Biblio-Coach suggests reading the following books as a jumping off point:

The first is a classic handbook for overcoming anxiety, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie. First published in 1944 by the master of practical, applicable advice for living, this is the best place to start! The book aims to show you two important things, 1) “how to break the worry habit” and 2) to teach “you mental attitudes…that lead to inner security and happiness”. It is easy to read, the advice is timeless. Anything else published on the topic is likely imitated from this standard. People are people and some things just don’t change.

If your approach to life is more philosophical read the Stoics; “Discourses” by Epictetus and “Mediations”, by Marcus Aurelius. Certainly any of the texts written by the Stoics will do. Stoicism is an applied philosophy, a recipe for living rather than an esoteric theory. It has been studied for centuries and is experiencing a renaissance. Used today by many successful people like professional sports coaches, artists, executives and military leaders alike, this philosophy is definitely worth a look. For a highly readable and updated examination of the Stoic writings in bite-sized portions, try the recently published, “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.

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Finally, from the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, read “I Can See Clearly Now”. Dr. Dyer has had a profound impact on countless souls during his prolific career writing, speaking and changing lives. Encouraging us to find our higher selves, this book is his reflection on his life and body of work. This reminder of the miraculous nature of life, a comforting reassurance that if we are mindful, (pay attention to the right things) we see life unfold as it is supposed to allowing us space to relax a little. Suggestions for other reading can be found throughout. Reading and especially listening to Dr. Dyer on audio, is calming and reassuring.

A final piece of advice from the Biblio-coach, for a change of pace try reading something funny. You know the saying, “laughter is the best medicine”.  Don’t take yourself so seriously. Laugh a little, you’ll feel much better! More on funny next time.

Is there a book that helped you cope with anxiety?

The Biblio-Coach, a.k.a. Karen O’Malley, is the Director of the Union Public Library. She is an avid reader, writer, amateur philosopher and keen observer of people. Using her decades of experience navigating the world through reading and her profession as a librarian and library administrator, Karen shares her experience to help others manage life’s challenges through reading. The lists are created as a general starter guide for those who are willing and able to help themselves.

Karen resides contentedly in charming Nutley, NJ. She can be reached via email @ thebibliocoach@gmail.com.

To borrow any of the books mentioned, stop by your local library!