Too much stress is bad for our health — putting us at risk for conditions like depression, heart disease and memory problems. But life is full of commitments and pressures that make relaxation seem impossible, and finding ways to soothe can be difficult.
“Stress happens. Stress is normal. Negative emotions are normal,” said Judith T. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “But, whatever stress you’re experiencing, there are things you can do to bring more positive emotions.”
We asked 15 experts — psychologists, counselors, neuroscientists and others — for their favorite books on managing stress. Some are packed with science while others focus on techniques, but they’re all meant to help you breathe a little easier. Many of the experts recommended the same titles. Below are five books to help you cultivate a more peaceful state of mind.
1. “Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It,” by Ethan Kross
In “Chatter,” Dr. Kross, the director of the Emotion & Self-Control Lab at the University of Michigan, offers tools to recognize and alter our inner monologues.
“It’s like the essential guide for regulating your negative thought patterns,” said Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale University who teaches a course on happiness and hosts “The Happiness Lab” podcast. For instance, Dr. Kross recommends chatting with yourself in the third person, which can make problems seem lighter.
“It’s hard to feel calm when our thoughts are racing and our emotions are swirling,” said Adam Grant, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and a contributing Opinion writer for The New York Times.
This book offers a “fascinating, evidence-based look at why the way we talk to ourselves matters far more than we realize,” he said.