Books to beat the Monday blues

Blue Monday; falling on the third Monday of each January, it’s supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, but the jury’s still out on if blue Monday is more of a myth and a marketing tool than real phenomena.

Supposedly the day where more of us feel depressed than another other, the notion that there is a single day when people collectively feel more depressed is a little worrying in and of itself. It’s important, though, to recognise the huge numbers of people who seem to be seeking support each January (and throughout the year); speaking out and seeking help is the first step towards making positive changes, and funding the right support that can truly make a difference for us.

Instead of focusing on Blue Monday this week, let’s try and start a more positive conversation around #MentalHealthMonday. Take the chance to start up a conversation with someone about how they are feeling or coping at the moment, or just chat about how they’re doing this side of the holidays (I swear, it’s felt like five, long years since my last payday, not five freaking weeks).

If like me, you’re not much of a talker in person, try sharing your favourite mental health books online — or just thrust your fav title in the general direction of a friend or colleague (it still works, I swear). Or if you’re struggling with your own mental health, reserve some time for self-care this coming Monday. It doesn’t have to be a complex routine or a big expense; it can be as simple as planning to spend time with a book, take a relaxing bath, and having a relaxing night in bed


Awesome mental health books to kickstart your #MentalHealthMonday

A Sloth’s Guide to Mindfulness
Ton Mak
Hardcover | eBook
Comic, artbook, self-help

I freaking love A Sloth’s Guide to Mindfulness – it was one of my favourite non-fiction books of 2018. Mak’s illustrations are a simplistic thing of beauty.

Embodying the core message of ‘You do you. Just let your inner sloth guide you’, Mak’s book provides an awesome introduction or newbies and mindful dabblers alike.

Sharing a more laid-back, relaxed approach to mindfulness and meditation, follow along as an adorable, pudgy sloth takes you through how to be more mindful, step by step. From simple breathing exercises to guided visualisation, let your inner sloth guide you to a more relaxed way of life.

Helping tackle feelings of anxiety and depression (two of the most common mental health issues in the UK), mindfulness can help us relearn how to pay attention to what is happening in our lives, live in the moment, and push our worries about past (and future) events to one side as we focus on the here and now.

It’s easy for us to forget the small, happy things that are already within and around us. Practising mindfulness helps bring back that awareness of the wonders that are all around us.

👉 Discover how to have a more mindful, philoSLOTHical life


What If?
Anna Russell
Hardback | Paperback
Poetic fiction, YA

What If? Centres around the rituals, compulsions, and anxiety of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), as felt by a teenager struggling pre (and mid) diagnosis. Looking at the impact others can have on our mental health (and how able we feel to seek help when we are struggling), Russell’s book imparts the overall message that

You don’t need to be fixed – just helped.

(I’m not crying, you’re crying).

OCD, unlike anxiety and depression, isn’t necessarily something that we’ll all encounter in our lifetimes (be that through ourselves, loved ones, or friends). Just 1.2% of the population (around 12 in every 1,000 people) in the UK experience OCD during their lifetime according to leading charity OCD-UK. It’s become pretty common to hear phrases like ‘we’re all a bit OCD, aren’t we?’

No.

No, we really aren’t. Someone isn’t ‘a bit OCD’ because they like to keep things a certain way, are neat or tidy. OCD involves intrusive, obsessive thoughts; compulsive, often overwhelming urges that can only be relieved through repeating an action, over and over and over, out of anxiety or fear that something bad will happen to someone they love if they don’t.

Many of us may experience some traits, but that doesn’t mean we fully understand the condition. Just like we wouldn’t say ‘We’ve all got a bit of a broken leg, haven’t we?’ every time we have a  knee pain or a cramp, we can’t say we fully understand OCD just because we have occasional intrusive thoughts or a preference of keeping our things in a certain or specific order.

What If is a short work of poetic fiction rather than a traditional novel, which can be a bit of a challenge if you’ve never read anything in this style before. It’s really worth sticking with it; once you get past the first few pages, the format really lends itself well to the thought patterns of protagonist Josh, creating a rhythm of its own you can feel as you move across the pages.

If you have a friend or loved one who has experienced OCD, What If gives a great insight into the thought process behind their condition. If you’ve never learnt about OCD but want to know more, it’s a great introduction to a complex subject matter, making it much more accessible – not only for teens and young adults, but all ages.

Check out the full review over in Happiful Magazine 👉 Feb ’19


How to be Resilient | How to Quieten Your Mind | How to Relax
Anna Barnes | Laura Milne
Paperback
Non-fiction, wellbeing, mental health

While these (technically) aren’t from the same author, these ‘How to…’ books from Vie seem to be part of a unified series covering wellbeing (and they all look freaking beautiful together on a shelf).

Simple but satisfying, the How to….  Series is filled with simple activities and exercises you can work through, along with inspiring quotes and mantras to give you a boost when you’re feeling low.

How to be Resilient is a great little book if you’ve ever struggled with your self-esteem (yes), found it hard to cope with change (yas), or wish you could handle pressure a bit better (get out of my head). A great starting point, it’s also one of those books that’s just lovely to own – you know what I mean; a nice but simple colour, with the kind of paper that feels good to touch, and it just looks so good on a shelf next to other books from the series. Rather than a ‘sit down and read everything now’ kind of book, it’s good for dipping in and out of, and helping you to find out more about how building your resilience can positively impact your mindset day-to-day.

How to Quieten Your Mind has a similar format but (surprisingly) looks at how you can quieten your mind, keep unwanted thoughts at bay, and rediscover ways to relax and unwind that work for you. If you’re feeling a bit frazzled or are having trouble taking a step back from your keyboard, having a break from work, coursework, or any number of projects, this is a solid starting point.

How to Relax felt pretty similar (to me, at least) to How to Quieten Your Mind, but the focus was a little more on letting go of stresses and strains on your life. If stress is your big pressure point, or you’re worried about burnout (a seriously not cool thing – you should totally check out the signs of burnout if you’re unsure if you’re feeling stressed or something more), this is a great book to give you actionable activities you can really try to get you started.


I could keep going on and on, but nobody has time for that. If you’re still after a book that encourages good mental health and wellbeing, or tackles the complex subjects around these issues, here are some of the top charting books of the last year (and a bit) that you should totally consider checking out 👉

Notes on a Nervous Planet
Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - and the Unexpected Solutions
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
We're All Mad Here: The No-Nonsense Guide to Living with Social Anxiety
What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower's Guide to Why You Are Already Enough
The Recovery Letters: Addressed to People Experiencing Depression


Bonnie Evie’s favorite books »


What books (fiction, nonfiction, audio, physical, or eBook) are your go-tos when it comes to helping others understand or open up more about wellbeing and mental health? I’d love to hear

(not just so I can add even more books to my TBR shelf, I swear 😶)

Share your favs below, or drop me a message on Twitter.


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Author: Bonnie Evie Gifford

*waves* I'm a writer and blogger from the not so sunny south coast of England. With bylines in Happiful Magazine, Harness Magazine, as well as on Counselling , Therapy, and Lifecoach Directories, I write about books, mental health, wellbeing, autism, and culture. When not writing, I can be found partially buried under a stack of books, hiding from the outside world. Find me lurking on Twitter: https://twitter.com/begifford

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