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Five Books to Read if You Have Anxiety

Living day to day with anxiety can feel like running a marathon on a long, uphill, unpaved road with a boulder tied to your back. The daily battle between you and the nagging voice in your head that confirms all your worst fears – no one really likes you, you're purposeless, everything will go wrong – is ceaseless. It exhausts you. One moment, you've won, and there may be only a brief respite before it takes up arms again. 

Of course, there are varying degrees of anxiety. Some may have it better than others. Some may have it worse. 

With anxiety, it's easy to feel like you're alone. And in some sense, that is true; though a strong support system is necessary to stand against the doubts, it is you and only you that can win the war against your anxiety. In times of loneliness, I've found that books can offer the comfort and advice that may be difficult to accept from the loved ones around you.

Here are five books about anxiety from individuals who faced it themselves. Some of these books will make you laugh, others will challenge your fears head on. In any case, I hope that you will find some solace, and perhaps even a friend, in the pages below.

Furiously Happy

Furiously Happy is the second book written by the humorist Jenny Lawson. A continuation of her previous autobiography Let's Pretend This Never Happened, this book deals more directly with Lawson's experience with mental illness, depression and anxiety. The title refers to Lawson's philosophy of being "furiously happy" after becoming so depressed that she eventually decided to force herself to be happy out of frustration and spite, driving herself to adventures and experiences in order to build happy memories to sustain her through bouts of depression. This propels her to do such things as travel to Australia in order to hug a koala while wearing a koala suit, to wear a fancy ballgown on ordinary occasions in order to feel beautiful, and to connect with people in the real world in spite of painful physical ability and severe social anxiety. She also related experiences of other mentally ill people who have gone on their own adventures after being inspired by her.

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Hardcore Self Help

Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety is for those of us that find the prospect of reading a traditional self help book to be way too boring. How are you supposed to make positive change in your life if the book itself feels like a chore? This book is definitely not a chore. In Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety, Dr. Robert Duff talks to you like a friend. There is lots of swearing and humor and also loads of helpful and actionable information. You learn about anxiety and how to find the weapons within yourself to slay it for good.

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The Daily Stoic

Why have history's greatest minds—from George Washington to Frederick the Great to Ralph Waldo Emerson, along with today's top performers from Super Bowl-winning football coaches to CEOs and celebrities—embraced the wisdom of the ancient Stoics? Because they realize that the most valuable wisdom is timeless and that philosophy is for living a better life, not a classroom exercise. The Daily Stoic offers 366 days of Stoic insights and exercises, featuring all-new translations from the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the playwright Seneca, or slave-turned-philosopher Epictetus, as well as lesser-known luminaries like Zeno, Cleanthes, and Musonius Rufus. Every day of the year you'll find one of their pithy, powerful quotations, as well as historical anecdotes, provocative commentary, and a helpful glossary of Greek terms. By following these teachings over the course of a year (and, indeed, for years to come) you'll find the serenity, self-knowledge, and resilience you need to live well.

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SuperBetter

In 2009, internationally renowned game designer Jane McGonigal suffered a severe concussion. Unable to think clearly or work or even get out of bed, she became anxious and depressed, even suicidal. But rather than let herself sink further, she decided to get better by doing what she does best: she turned her recovery process into a resilience-building game. 

In this book, McGonigal reveals a decade’s worth of scientific research into the ways all games—including videogames, sports, and puzzles—change how we respond to stress, challenge, and pain. She explains how we can cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a more “gameful” mind-set.

As inspiring as it is down to earth, and grounded in rigorous research, SuperBetter is a proven game plan for a better life. You’ll never say that something is “just a game” again.

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Monkey Mind

Daniel Smith’s Monkey Mind is the stunning articulation of what it is like to live with anxiety. As he travels through anxiety’s demonic layers, Smith defangs the disorder with great humor and evocatively expresses its self-destructive absurdities and painful internal coherence. Aaron Beck, the most influential doctor in modern psychotherapy, says that “Monkey Mind does for anxiety what William Styron’s Darkness Visible did for depression.” Neurologist and bestselling writer Oliver Sacks says, “I read Monkey Mind with admiration for its bravery and clarity….I broke out into explosive laughter again and again.” Here, finally, comes relief and recognition to all those who want someone to put what they feel, or what their loved ones feel, into words.

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Egyptian-American food enthusiast born in Chicago, raised in Beirut, and living in Dublin. Regional Ambassador at Bookwitty. Intimately familiar with the term "identity crisis".

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