Reducing Stress

Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing

Author: Richard Miller

Brief Description: Don’t let the name fool you.  Yoga Nidra is a form of body scan meditation that does not require bending or twisting and is proven to be deeply relaxing and healing.  See also iRest below.

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

Author: John Kabat-Zinn

Brief Description: A pivotal American book on mindfulness-based pain and stress reduction.  The techniques outlined in this book have been taught to over 19,000 through the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Author: Pema Chödrön

Brief Description: Pema Chödrön is an American woman who became a Buddhist nun many years ago.  In this book, she shares ancient Buddhist practices and perspectives that help relieve modern day stress.

The iRest Program for Healing PTSD: A Proven-Effective Approach to Using Yoga Nidra Meditation & Deep Relaxation Techniques to Overcome Trauma

Author: Richard C. Miller, PhD

Brief Description: iRest is an offshoot of Yoga Nidra listed above. This program can be done in either 20 or 45 minute sessions.  While the original iRest program was devised for military veterans with PTSD, this program is useful for anyone working with trauma, or simply needing to relax very deeply.

Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution

Author: Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW

Brief Description: Based on her research findings, Brown’s inspiring message describes the process of rising strong after a fall as an opportunity to cultivate wholeheartedness if we are first willing to reckon with our feelings, rumble with our stories, and create a revolution of change from within.

 Reducing Anxiety (See Also Reducing Depression)

The Mindful Way through Anxiety: Breaking Free from Chronic Worry and Stress

Authors: Susan M. Orsillo, PhD and Lizabeth Roemer PhD

Brief Description: Following on the work by Williams, Teasdale, Segal, and Kabat-Zinn, this book focuses on mindfulness practice for reducing anxiety.

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

Author: David D. Burns, MD

Brief Description: This is a classic and excellent book that teaches proven cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques that can be used at home to help reduce anxiety and depression without the use of medication.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Author: Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW

Brief Description: Anxiety and perfectionism often go hand in hand.  This is an inspiring book about learning to embrace our imperfections so that we can begin to embrace our true selves with kindness and love.

The Resilence Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles

Authors: Karen Reivich, PhD and Andrew Shatte, PhD.

Brief Description: A self help book based on positive psychology, with numerous exercises designed to reduce anxiety and stress, and find your inner strength.

Reducing Depression (See Also Reducing Anxiety)

The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness

Authors: Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Brief Description: Backed with evidence-based data, this book provides a non-pharmacological approach to working with depression.  Williams, Teasdale, and Segal pioneered mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy, based on Kabat-Zinn’s work in Full Catastrophe Living.

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions

Author: Christopher K. Germer, PhD

Brief Description: A practical guide to working with our own thoughts and emotions in a gentle, loving, kind way.  The development of self-compassion is an essential part of both mindfulness practice and the development of an altruistic (compassionate) mind

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment

Author: Martin E. P. Seligman, PhD

Brief Description: Learn to change a chronic bad mood into authentic happiness, by a psychologist who managed to accomplish this feat on his own.  See also for a host of resources on finding your strengths, which in turn will help you generate happiness

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Brief Description: Although not specifically about depression, this book shares a new way of thinking about what the term “quality of life” really means, and how we can improve our own quality of life.

Relationships, Sexuality, and Intimacy

Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: and How You Can Make Yours Last

Author: John Gottman, PhD

Brief Description: Based on years of clinical research videotaping couples interacting in a “marriage lab,” Gottman has been able to identify characteristics that appear in both successful marriages and those on course to fail. He identifies ways to move from marital failure to marital success.

Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality

Author: Lonnie Barbach, PhD

Brief Description: This is an older book, but it is a classic written for women that wish to  explore and/or deepen their sexual pleasure.  It is compassionately written, and has withstood the test of time.

The New Male Sexuality: The Truth About Men, Sex, and Pleasure

Author: Bernie Zilbergeld, PhD

Brief Description: This is another classic older book that has been revised through the years and is an excellent companion book to Lonnie Barbach’s For Yourself above.  One of the best books ever written on male sexuality.

A New View of a Women’s Body: A Fully Illustrated Guide by the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers

Illustrated by: Suzann Gage

Brief Description: An invaluable guide to a woman’s body, with especially great illustrations of the entire clitoris, including hidden structures beneath the skin.

Help Living with Illness

The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness

Author: Jerome Groopman, MD

Brief Description: Illness affects everyone differently.  By looking at the views and practices of those that are thriving and not merely surviving, Groopman learns valuable lessons that can be applied to others living with illness.

Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal

Author: Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

Brief Description: Rachel Remen is a physician, a professor of medicine, a therapist, and a long-term survivor of chronic illness. In a deeply moving and down-to-earth collection of true stories, this prominent physician shows us life in all its power and mystery and reminds us that the things we cannot measure may be the things that ultimately sustain and enrich our lives.

Cancer as a Turning Point: A Handbook for People with Cancer, Their Families, and Health Care Professionals

Author: Lawrence LeShan, PhD

Brief Description: LeShan shows how psychological change, along with medical treatment, mobilizes a compromised immune system for healing. Includes hands-on exercises designed to help readers get the most out of their immune systems by leading fuller, richer lives.

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery

Author: Rebecca Katz

Brief Description: Features 150 science-based, nutrient-rich recipes that are easy to prepare and designed to give patients a much-needed boost by stimulating appetite and addressing treatment side effects including fatigue, nausea, weight loss, dehydration, mouth and throat soreness, and tastebud changes.

Help with End-of-Life

On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and Their Own Families

Author: Elisabeth Kugler-Ross

Brief Description: A timeless classic that describes the five common psychological stages we encounter around death: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance.  However, these were never meant to be linear steps.

Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience

Author: Barbara Karnes, RN

Brief Description: This beautifully simple book written by a hospice nurse is very useful for learning what is happening physically when a loved one is at the end-of-life.  Includes illustrations and gentle instructions on how to care for a dying person at home.  It is easy to understand and includes a larger font size so that it can be read with teary eyes.

The Grace in Dying: A Message of Hope, Comfort, and Spiritual Transformation

Author: Kathleen Dowling Singh

Brief Description: Singh’s writing is informed by her work with ordinary people experiencing ordinary deaths, and yet she is able to explain how death, as a transition, is one of the most spiritually transformative experiences we will have in our life time.  Well worth reading at any stage of life.

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying

Authors: Maggie Callahan and Patricia Kelley

Brief Description: Written by two nurses, Final Gifts teaches ways the dying communicate their needs and feelings, as well as the gifts of wisdom, faith, and love that the dying leave for the living to share.  The stories shared demonstrate how we can help the dying live fully until the very end.

Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

Author: Joan Halifax

Brief Description: Inspired by traditional Buddhist teachings, this book is written for caregivers, the dying, and those wishing to contemplate the transformative power of the dying process. Her teachings affirm that we can open and contact our inner strength, and that we can help others who are suffering to do the same.

Grief and Loss

Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart

Author: Alan D Wolfelt, PhD

Brief Description: A beautiful and comprehensive guide that walks the reader through a process of transforming grief by attending to one’s heart.  Not to “get over” the loss of a loved one, but to learn to be in relationship with our deceased in a way that allows our own wholeness and balance to come forth.

Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives

Author: Becky Aikman

Brief Description: Written by a young widow, this true story of six marriages, six heartbreaks, and one shared beginning is an inspiring testament to what friends can achieve when they hold each other up.

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief

Author: Martha Whitmore Hickman

Brief Description: For those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, here are strength and thoughtful words to inspire and comfort.  Each day’s meditation begins with a quote.  Hickman includes perennial wisdom from different traditions throughout the book highlighting the universality of love and loss

Waking Up to This Day: Seeing the Beauty Right Before Us

Author: Paula D’Arcy

Brief Description: This lovely meditation on the beauty and giftedness of the world and our lives helps us to stop feeling guilty about the past, angry over the present, or obsessed with the future. Instead, we can come to realize the grace and goodness that is already ours.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness in Plain English

Author: Bhante Gunaratana

Brief Description: A classic book that very simply and plainly describes the process of mindfulness meditation.  This is a bestseller for a reason.  It is one of the most useful mindfulness meditation books available today with very easy step by step instructions

How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends With Your Mind

Author: Pema Chödrön

Brief Description: Pema Chödrön is treasured around the world for her unique ability to transmit teachings and practices that bring peace, understanding, and compassion into our lives.  With How to Meditate, the American-born Tibetan Buddhist nun presents her first book exploring in depth what she considers the essentials for a lifelong practice.

Peace is Every Step

Author: Thich Nhat Hahn

Brief Description: Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on mindfulness, especially mindful walking meditations.  This book is a great beginning point for learning about mindfulness and basic Buddhist philosophy and how mindfulness can be incorporated into daily life as a practice for generating peace inside of oneself and in the world.

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living

Authors: Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, MD

Brief Description: Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Howard Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.