Looking for the most straight-forward list of best self help books for anxiety and overthinking? Here are nine books that will support you in your journey.
If you’re here, it means you’re working on yourself, which is one of the hardest things you can do. Learning about why you struggle and how you work through your mental health issues is difficult. If you haven’t heard it yet, you’re doing amazing work.
To make your journey a little easier and less research intensive, take a look at this list of books. It’s guaranteed to help you on your mental health journey no matter where you are.
This post is all about the best self help books for anxiety and overthinking.
BEST SELF HELP BOOKS:
1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
There are two types of reactions to this title: 1) this book is definitely not for me or 2) this book definitely is for me. If you had the first reaction, I’m guessing you’re thrown off by the curse word in the title—it is censored on the cover.
While this book might catch you off-guard, the moment you open it, you’ll be glad you started reading or listening to it. This book starts off by completely confusing you with some colloquial philosophy, then Manson explains it.
This is one of the best books for overthinking and anxiety. Plus, it’s perfect for people pleasers because you’re going to learn the reasons why your worrying is doing you no good, even if you still do it after you finish the book.
2. The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
Housel does an expert job of unraveling all of our unbelievable habits around money and will make you feel human again. So much of the time when people (typically men) talk about money, it’s almost like everyone should already know everything.
There’s little explaining or humanity in it, which is exactly what Housel brings to the table. He tells us why we act the way we do around money and, honestly, why some of that is okay.
This book isn’t “get rich quick” or “how to improve your money skills” (lots of recs here if you want that). Instead, this book will help you understand your money mindset and the changes (if any) you want to make.
3. Atomic Habits by James Clear
Everyone should read this book. Whether you’re a habits person or not, this will change the way you understand what you do and why you do it. Clear goes through, step-by-step, how you can build the habits you’ve always wanted.
Now, life is more than your productivity, so take some breaks with this book. It’s not that you’ll find this book dense or difficult to understand—though you’ll probably want to take notes or annotate. But, the topic of habits will naturally induce was negative thought trains in your head.
Since we’re taught productivity is more important than our health, it’s natural to want to throw the book or audiobook down when you’re finished and announce you’re going to change your life.
One of the biggest reminders you’ll need when reading this book is it’s designed to help you live your best life, not to tell you you’re doing it all wrong and start from scratch. Keep a positive head when reading it so it does you good.
4. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
Anytime you’ve ever wondered why you can’t get yourself or someone else to do something, this is for you. This is for the upholders who get themselves to do everything they want because you still need to understand the non-upholders around you.
For the rebels out there, if you want people to understand you (and to understand yourself), this book is going to get you in that direction. For the obligers, please read this book for my sake and, for my fellow questioners, you’re probably convinced by now.
Rubin explains how there are four ways people tend to respond to both internal and external expectations. These tendencies give a better understanding of ourselves and the people around us, so we get a little frustrated when both us and others don’t meet expectations.
Rubin has a quiz on her website if you’re wanting some fast answers, but I highly recommend checking out her book for a more in-depth understanding of your tendency and those around you.
5. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
Bessel van der Kolk has produced one of the most compassionate, eye-opening, undervalued books out there. This book talks about how we store trauma in our bodies without even knowing it and can, subsequently, unlock the pain.
He perfectly explains everything in our bodies from how yoga can trigger the mind to the neuroscience behind multiple mental illnesses without getting too technical to scare off non-scientists.
For those of you who take medication, you might also find his book healing. Even if you don’t take medication but wish you could, he might just provide you with a few ways to get away from thinking medication will be a life-saver.
Clearly, medication allows certain people to function and they should definitely do that as long as it works for them. I’d still recommend giving the book a read because he uses his background and experience to explain why he believes mental illness can be managed in other ways.
This book is the warm hug our inner children have always needed because our trauma is not our fault, but we still do need to find healthy ways of dealing with it to live our best lives.
6. Retrain Your Brain by Seth J. Gillihan
Gillihan has produced the book all of us—especially those who can’t afford therapy—need. It has weekly exercises that build up until we can see that gradual, sustainable change (always with a few setups because we’re human) we’ve always wanted to see.
This is the approachable ways to introduce yourself to cognitive behavioral therapy and the best part is you can always refer back to the book when you need some help.
This book is perfect for those you with overthinking anxiety or depression because Gillihan developed it off his own experience with clients. For those of you who are a little hesitant to dive into this book, this might be one you wait on until you’re at a different place in your journey—that’s fine!
7. The Child in You by Stefanie Stahl
We’ve all heard of “inner child” before—it’s a new buzzword in mental health pop culture. But, so few of us actually know what it means besides… what it sounds like. The goal of this book is to not only get you familiar with it for real but also to get you healing your inner child.
The idea of “inner child” comes from the kid we were who could process or handle conflict as well as we can as adults. Whenever a harmful experience came along, our child selves did their best to make sense and process it.
Now, as adults, we get remnants of that without even knowing (think: getting triggered). Stahl’s book is our way to learn about the inner child and work with them to make adult us happier and more fulfilled—we can’t do that if our younger selves still feel unsafe.
8. Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson
While not everyone will find themselves in this book, you should probably read it if you’re questioning whether you’ll get something out of it or not. At the very least, if it doesn’t help you, you’ll learn about people who are inevitably in your life and maybe related to you.
Gibson goes in-depth on the ways that kids turn out when their parents neglected them or used them for the emotional support they should’ve been giving.
This is one of the best books for anxiety and overthinking because it will give you validation if you grew up with emotionally immature parents and will give you the tools to have a relationship with them without getting hurt.
For anyone who wants to have children, it’s also useful to understand the way your actions—especially when you have a mental illness—can affect your children in ways you don’t even see happening.
9. The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron
The term “highly sensitive person” is controversial among some scholars: some people say it doesn’t exist or it’s another way for people to “get attention.” However, if you read the description for a highly sensitive person and you resonate with it, you know it’s real.
There’s nothing better than opening up a book and seeing yourself, especially when it’s nonfiction and you’re learning more about yourself. In this case, you’ll find tips on how to move around the world as a person who feels a lot—and kind of everything.
For those of who think we might be highly sensitive, a book like this tells us it’s not in our heads. The way we feel things and lots of things is something inherent and unchangeable and real—this book gives that to us.