Everyone struggles with down cycles in life (including myself). They’re what make the good times so good. But sometimes things like anxiety and depression can make doing basic things like getting out of bed, hard.
And that’s why It’s important to know that even when you get these negative feelings you don’t have to identify with them, and can just brush them aside if you want to.
I mention anxiety and depression together because they’re normally synergistic and you normally don’t have one without the other.
Here are my favourite books to fight against the kryptonite which is anxiety and depression.
1. Mans Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Viktor mentions anxiety in his book, I believe he refers to it as neurosis or mental disturbance. Viktor was a psychiatrist and neurologist and he believed that the best way to eradicate anxiety was to focus on a goal, a vocation, or an art/ hobby that provided you with joy and fulfilment.
Viktor believed that if you had things in life that made life worth living, so you could find meaning in the suffering you could keep anxiety and depression at bay.
He called this method of psychotherapy logo therapy. And he used it to help him survive multiple concentration camps.
In the horrible violence and suffering during world war 2 in the concentration camps, a lot of prisoners gave up all hope, had a pessimistic outlook on life and shortly gave up and Viktor says they were the first to go.
But those who found meaning in the suffering, whether that was the hope they’d someday be reunited with their families or make the most out of the dire situation they found themselves in by helping other prisoners, Viktor says fared better in the long run.
Meaning is everywhere if we look for it. Be the alchemist of your anxiety and depression. Turn suffering into joy and find activities you enjoy and use that negative energy productively.
Read my book review on man’s search for meaning.
2. Positivity – Barbara Fredrickson
Positivity is more focused on the evidence-based/ research side of things and provides clear tips and advice on improving your positive emotions such as gratitude, joy, hope, interest, serenity etc which are the opposite of anxiety and depression and can counter the negative effects of them.
For example, Barbara explains how a pessimistic, dire view of the world can give rise to negative emotions. Whereas an optimistic outlook can breed positivity.
Barbara also writes about the importance of what we give our attention to affects our emotions.
Read this paragraph for instance:
“Science shows that as you consume violent media, you increase the odds of becoming violent yourself, in large and small ways. You are more likely to hurt others, be suspicious of others, and find violence to be an acceptable solution to interpersonal problems. Media violence zaps your empathy and your kindness.”
She also emphasises the need for healthy distractions when you have negative emotions.
Here are some healthy and unhealthy distractions when anxiety and depression try to get their claws in you.
Healthy Distractions :
Working, reading, going on walks, working out, meditating, spending time with friends/family, engaging in hobbies, catching up on emails, cleaning your house, doing mobility exercises.
Unhealthy Distractions :
Social media, watching television (in excess), video games, porn, junk food, alcohol, drugs.
3. Eckhart Tolle – Power Of Now
The best way to describe the power of now in one paragraph is:
To be so present in the moment, that you’re not worrying about the future or past. But you give full attention to the present because essentially the present moment is all we ever have.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
― Lao Tzu
One piece of advice from Eckhart that I particularly like is to become the watcher of your thoughts and emotions. And to only identify with the thoughts and emotions that are helpful to you.
For example, anxiety and depression aren’t very useful for making practical steps to improve your life. Eckhart says to accept these thoughts and emotions because getting anxious and depressed about feeling anxious and depressed lead to a vicious circle of well, feeling anxious and depressed.
So don’t identify with these negative emotions they’re not you. Instead, focus on the present and focus on doing what you need to do fully, and improving your life one action at a time disregarding unhelpful thoughts and emotions.
4. Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius was emperor of one of the largest empires in history (the Roman Empire). He had the weight of an empire on his shoulders (Figuratively speaking). Ultimately he was human and struggled with things such as anxiety and depression.
“Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions—not outside.”
“And why would I feel any anxiety? Dispersal is certain, whatever I do.”
Anxiety affects everyone, but everyone doesn’t need to be affected by anxiety. Life is short, ultimately we’re all going to be rotten corpses, but to let anxiety and depression take over our lives is to waste precious time, which is the only commodity we can never get back.
Habits That Help Fight Against Anxiety And Depression From My Experience
- Getting up early.
- Eating healthily.
- Going on daily walks.
- Working out 3-5 times per week.
- Daily reading.
- Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption.
- Being healthy – poor health, injury and disease can all make life more difficult. Always focus on what you can do to maintain/ improve your health.
- Having a mostly consistent daily routine.
- Write down 5 things you’re grateful for and why every day.
- Reducing caffeine and sugar consumption.
The Bottom Line On The 4 Best Books For Dealing With Anxiety And Depression
The 4 best books from my experience are Positivity, Meditations, Mans Search For Meaning, and The Power of now.
Let me know what you think. And if you have any recommendations let me know.
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