The best self-care and self-help books to read right now

Our edit of the best self-care and self-help books to draw insight, comfort and inspiration from.

30/05/2022
7 minutes to read
Book covers for Inner Spark, How to Just Eat it and The Mindfulness Moments Colouring Book on a light blue background

Self-care is important for us for our mental and physical wellbeing, and it can mean many different things to different people. For some, it could be taking time out of a stressful day to practice some meditation techniques or do some mindfulness colouring. For others, it may mean investing time in yourself by reading those self-help books you’ve always meant to explore, taking up a new hobby, working on your health and fitness or learning to cook something new. It’s also important that we don’t feel alone in difficult times, and there are many comforting memoirs and informative practical guides to draw on for advice and inspiration. 

To help you give a little time back to yourself, we've curated our edit of the best self-help books to draw comfort and inspiration from. For more, don't miss our wellbeing activities for adults YouTube playlist.


Creative self-care books

Start Painting Now

by Emily Powell

Book cover for Start Painting Now

This playful and practical handbook will connect you to the artist within, and foster your creativity. Instagram star artist Emily Powell and her sister, doctor Sarah Moore, are your guides to ignoring the inner critic and finding relaxation and meaning through painting. Start Painting Now comes with examples of Emily and Sarah’s work, as well as inspiration from a range of women artists.

The Joy Journal for Grown-ups

by Laura Brand

Book cover for The Joy Journal for Grown-ups

The Joy Journal for Grown-ups invites you to experiment, play and unlock your creative potential with a range of simple crafts that can bring a little more calm into your everyday life. Using store-cupboard ingredients and easily foraged supplies, this beautifully illustrated handbook includes new and inspiring ideas for adding a personal touch to celebrations, creating unique gifts, and making stunning keepsakes. Imaginative, engaging and easy to follow, this gorgeous, step-by-step guide features all the encouragement you need to find inspiration, awaken your creativity and brighten your mood.

‘This book is a chance to slow down and find stillness. Self-care in the most beautiful, creative ways.’
Fearne Cotton on The Joy Journal for Grown Ups


The best self-care books about mental health & wellbeing

Solve for Happy

by Mo Gawdat

Book cover for Solve for Happy

Written by a top Google executive, Solve For Happy is about creating and maintaining happiness. In 2001 Mo Gawdat realised he was incredibly successful, but desperately unhappy. He committed to solving the problem like the engineer he was, examining the facts and following logic. Ten years later his research saved him when his son Ali died during routine surgery, and he realised his mission was to share his Happiness Equation with the world.

That Little Voice In Your Head

by Mo Gawdat

Book cover for That Little Voice In Your Head

Retrain your brain with this practical guide by former Google engineer and executive Mo Gawdat, author of international bestseller Solve for Happy. Gawdat teaches how we can conquer negative thoughts, change our thinking processes, turn avarice into generosity, transform lethargy into empathy and invest in our own wellbeing and happiness. With exercises and personal insights, That Little Voice in Your Head can move us away from the misconceptions of modern life.

Maybe I Don't Belong Here

by David Harewood

Book cover for Maybe I Don't Belong Here

Acclaimed actor David Harewood writes of the psychosis he experienced at the age of twenty-three, when his career was beginning to take off and his mental health collapsed. Sectioned, physically restrained by police officers, sedated and sent to a locked ward, it took him thirty years to process the experience. Harewood writes powerfully of this episode, about the traumatic racism he has experienced, about his own troubled family history and about the systemic bias that underlies British society. 

The Anxiety Journal

by Corinne Sweet

Book cover for The Anxiety Journal

Many of us are probably feeling a little more anxious than usual right now. The Anxiety Journal encourages you to use CBT techniques and mindfulness exercises to better understand your anxiety and achieve peace and calm. Practical, supportive and uplifting, this is a self-help journal for anyone who struggles with anxiety, whether in the form of phobias, social anxiety, generalized anxiety (GAD) or day-to-day worrying.

Anxiety for Beginners

by Eleanor Morgan

Book cover for Anxiety for Beginners

Eleanor Morgan offers an insight into the often crippling effects of anxiety disorders, her book serving as a guide for those living with anxiety and for people who have friends or family who suffer. Eleanor combines her own experience with expert research to investigate what contributes to so many of us suffering around the world.

Read Eleanor Morgan on how to help someone with anxiety. 

Stronger

by Poorna Bell

Book cover for Stronger

Have you ever worried that you're not enough, or that, if you were stronger or more confident you would achieve more? This book is for you. In Stronger, award-winning journalist and competitive amateur powerlifter Poorna Bell investigates and unveils the potential that women can unlock when they realise their strength – both physical, and mental. Through examining her own experiences, as well as those of dozens of women, Bell shows how finding strength can work for you, regardless of your age, ability or background, and offers actionable ways for your to harness it in your life. 

What Happened To You?

by Oprah Winfrey

Book cover for What Happened To You?

In this new self-help book Oprah Winfrey and world-renowned brain development and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry examine the impact that our early childhood experiences – both good and bad - have on who we are as people. Shifting the question from 'what's wrong with you?' to 'what happened to you?' this self-help book examines people and their behaviour through the context of their personal experiences. Grounded in the latest brain science and brought to life through compelling narratives, What Happened To You? offers a beacon of hope for those looking to recover and transform after adversity. 

The Colour of Madness

by Samara Linton

Book cover for The Colour of Madness

The Colour of Madness brings together memoirs, essays, poetry, short fiction and artworks by people of colour who have experienced difficulties with mental health. From experiencing micro-aggressions to bias, and stigma to religious and cultural issues, people of colour have to fight harder than others to be heard and helped. Statistics show that people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK experience poor mental health treatment in comparison to their white counterparts, and are more likely to be held under the Mental Health Act. 

The book was first published in 2018, but its editors Dr Samara Linton and Rianna Walcott ended their relationship with their publisher in 2021, discovering it was linked to a far-right group. They have since collaborated with a new publisher to present this updated edition, with more contributions and powerful artwork.

If you're looking for more self-help books that focus on mental wellbeing, read our edit of the best books about mental health here.

‘Mo Gawdat is my life guru. His writing, his ideas and his generosity in sharing them has changed my life for the better in so many ways. Everything he writes is an enlightening education in how to be human.’
Elizabeth Day on Mo Gawdat


The best mindfulness self-care books

The Mindfulness Moments Colouring Book

by Emma Farrarons

Book cover for The Mindfulness Moments Colouring Book

This gorgeous colouring book is full of ideas for mindfulness activities and exercises which draw on your creativity and hone your focus. It’s perfectly pocket-sized, so you can colour your way to peace and calm wherever you are.

Inner Spark

by Kristin Vikjord

Book cover for Inner Spark

Kristin Vikjord’s self-help guide draws on her experiences as a clinical psychologist, yoga teacher and mindfulness facilitator to help readers to embrace the challenges of modern life. Offering a practical toolkit of exercises to help you find and nurture your inner spark, Kristin explains how the brain’s pathways work, and how and why it is so important for anyone having a difficult time to have a toolkit for reconnection. Kirsten guides the reader through three sections of the book: normalisation, clarification and agency with the mind of a clinical psychologist and the heart and soul of a yoga teacher. 

Read Kristen Vikjord on how to find your inner spark. 

Art of Mindfulness

by Emma Farrarons

Book cover for Art of Mindfulness

While away the hours at home with this creative art therapy book to soothe anxiety and stress. Full of beautiful colouring pages, drawings to imitate, patterns to create and lots of guided sketching, Art of Mindfulness is full of mindful activities to help you achieve a sense of calm.

The Little Book of Calm Colouring

by David Sinden

Book cover for The Little Book of Calm Colouring

Soothe stresses away and lose yourself in some creative colouring with this beautifully hand-illustrated colouring book full of stunning anti-stress designs and inspiring quotations.

Stress Less, Accomplish More

by Emily Fletcher

Book cover for Stress Less, Accomplish More

In these difficult times, many people are trying to balance working from home in less than ideal conditions – possibly while caring for children – with looking after their own physical and mental wellbeing. In Stress Less, Accomplish More, Emily Fletcher shares an ancient meditation technique to relieve stress, clear your mind and increase productivity. All you need is somewhere to sit, a little training and some time to yourself. This inspiring self-development book will help you to reduce stress through actionable advice and techniques. 

Discover more about the benefits of meditation. 

Ten to Zen

by Owen O'Kane

Book cover for Ten to Zen

This simple but effective self-help book helps to get you in the right headspace for challenging times in just ten minutes a day. Using four therapeutic models – mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychotherapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy – you will learn how to settle your mind quickly, retrain your brain to deal with stress and restructure unhelpful patterns of thinking.


Self-care books to help you connect with nature

The Wild Journal

by Willow Crossley

Book cover for The Wild Journal

Willow Crossley’s beautifully illustrated guide celebrates the potential of nature to mend, heal and transform our mood. Full of creative, practical projects, simple habits, small seasonal changes and therapeutic reflections, the book can help counteract the unpredictability and chaos of everyday life.

The Green Sketching Handbook

by Ali Foxon

Book cover for The Green Sketching Handbook

Inspired by her own journey from climate scientist who hadn't tried drawing since childhood to artist and nature lover, Dr Ali Foxon will show you how to embrace your wobbly lines, unhook from a fear of criticism and create a habit that makes you feel good, not inadequate. 

You will learn more about yourself and your unique relationship with nature, finding out what brings you comfort and joy. Best of all, you'll create vivid and evocative memories of all your outdoor adventures, big and small, even if you’re convinced you can’t draw.


Self-care books to help you cultivate a new habit

Kaizen

by Sarah Harvey

Book cover for Kaizen

If you’ve been wanting to cultivate a new habit but life keeps getting in the way, more time spent at home could offer the opportunity you’ve been looking for. Kaizen means ‘change’ ‘good’ – this Japanese philosophy offers a step-by-step method to help you build positive new habits and break bad ones by making small, incremental changes to slowly improve your life. Focusing on cultivating patience and shaping solutions for yourself, kaizen promotes positive, mindful change. The kaizen method has been adopted by businesses and sports teams all over the world and can be applied to any area of your life, from work and money to exercise and relationships. 

Read Sarah Harvey on how kaizen can help you change your habits for good. 

The Kindness Method

by Shahroo Izadi

Book cover for The Kindness Method

In these difficult times, we could all benefit from showing ourselves a little kindness. If you want to use this time to make a change, Behavioural Change Specialist Shahroo Izadi believes there’s only one way to make change last, and that’s to be kind to yourself. The Kindness Method was developed through a combination of professional training and personal experience and will leave you feeling empowered, positive and ready to make a change, whether it’s weight loss, cutting down on alcohol or improving your relationships.

Here, Shahroo shares five ways to be kinder to yourself today. 


The best self-care books to help you reset your relationship with food

How to Just Eat It

by Laura Thomas

Book cover for How to Just Eat It

Nutritionist and bestselling author of Just Eat It Laura Thomas PhD is back with this practical self-help book to help you reframe your approach to food. She uses the principles of intuitive eating, from mindful eating practices and understanding hunger and what it feels like to be full, to focusing on changing our mindset, in order to develop a judgement-free attitude to food. Laura also helps us to understand and spot diet culture in the media and society. Her wonderful practice called ‘Diet Culture Bullsh*t Bingo’ involves spotting phrases such as ‘burning off food,’ ‘cleanse’ and ‘80/20 rule’ to help understand and learn to identify diet culture (and how it affects us) in everyday life, social media, TV and even our own language.

The Last Diet

by Shahroo Izadi

Book cover for The Last Diet

This self-help book will help you transform your relationship with food and your body, using the same tools Shahroo Izadi used with her clients in addiction treatment, and which helped her lose eight stone in weight. Focusing on the importance of positive self-perception and self-kindness, Shahroo will help you find the motivation to change habits and lose weight for good.

Find out more about the books that can help you reset your relationship with food


The best healthy eating books

Eat to Save the Planet

by Annie Bell

Book cover for Eat to Save the Planet

Annie Bell, award-winning recipe writer for the Mail on Sunday YOU magazine and a registered nutritionist, delivers this ground-breaking cookbook to help you change your diet and the world for the better. Offering new recipes for your weekly menu from aubergine stuffed with lamb and buckwheat to speedy cauliflower, lentil and watercress risotto, this book provides recipes based on recommendations from the Planetary Health Diet which was commissioned by Lancet-EAT and written by an international group of scientists.

30 Day Kick Start Plan

by Joe Wicks

Book cover for 30 Day Kick Start Plan

If the thought of starting a 90-day fitness plan seems overwhelming, then Joe’s new self-development book, 30 Day Kick Start Plan, is the Joe Wicks book for you. Joe realised that motivation is strongest during the first thirty days, and hopes that the progress you see while following the 30 Day Kick Start Plan will motivate you to make long-term changes. The book features one hundred delicious, healthy recipes and six HIIT workouts to help you get in shape, but is also full of motivational tips and practical advice to help you transform your life for good. This is the Joe Wicks book for anyone who struggles with motivation and is looking for a book that focuses on the mental health benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

How Not to Die - Michael Greger

by Michael Greger MD

Book cover for How Not to Die - Michael Greger

The international bestseller, Dr Michael Greger's How Not To Die gives effective, scientifically-proven nutritional advice to prevent our biggest killers – including heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes – and reveals the astounding health benefits that simple dietary choices can provide. With emphasis on individual family health history and acknowledging that everyone needs something different, Dr Michael Greger offers practical dietary advice to help you live longer, healthier lives.

How Not to Diet

by Michael Greger MD

Book cover for How Not to Diet

Dr Michael Greger, author of the bestselling How Not to Die, offers an easy approach to a healthy, plant-based lifestyle which will help you put an end to dieting and weight-loss struggles. Dr Greger explores the many causes of obesity, and breaks down a variety of approaches to weight loss using cutting-edge dietary research.

Discover our edit of the best cookbooks. 


Self-care books to read if you want to feel uplifted 

Choose Possibility

by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

Book cover for Choose Possibility

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy is a high-flying Silicon Valley tech executive but, as she admits, her route to success hasn't been a conventional one. She started three companies, including one designed to place women board members into more companies, but she also encountered failed opportunities and many unexpected obstacles. Her belief is that when people are compelled by fear of missing out – FOMO – rather than FOF – fear of failure – then they become active and open to success, building risk-taking muscle and choosing to act continually rather than making one single choice. If you dream of new opportunities in your work or personal life, this could be the book for you. 

Notes From Your Therapist

by Allyson Dinneen

Book cover for Notes From Your Therapist

For anyone in need of a daily dose of affirmation and empathy, therapist and mental health counselor Allyson Dinneen shares this collection of artful and beautifully photographed hand-written insights, based on her popular Instagram account @notesfromyourtherapist

These bite-sized words of wisdom cover everything from setting boundaries and navigating relationships to how to take good care of yourself. As she does in her practice, through these notes Dinneen seeks to cultivate emotional well-being, recognize the struggle of being human, and offer a nurturing, compassionate perspective.

The Book of Hope

by Jonny Benjamin

Book cover for The Book of Hope

In this uplifting self-help book, award-winning mental health advocate and author Jonny Benjamin and co-editor Britt Pflüger bring together 101 key voices in the field of mental health, who each shares their story, and offers advice for how they find hope even in the darkest days. From the powerful to the funny, these essays will provide a supportive hand to anyone looking for light on a dark day and remind you that you are not alone, no matter what you may be going through. 

In Love with the World

by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Book cover for In Love with the World

The moving story of meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s journey into the wilderness and a near-death experience during his four-year wandering retreat is as inspirational as it is spiritual. Through Rinpoche’s intimate account of his search for the self during his suffering, he demonstrates how we can transform a fear of death into a life filled with joy.

What I Know for Sure

by Oprah Winfrey

Book cover for What I Know for Sure

A collection of the best of Oprah’s columns for O, The Oprah Magazine have been revised and updated in What I Know For Sure, a beautiful book packed with insight and revelation from Oprah Winfrey. Organized by theme – joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity and power – these essays offer a rare, powerful and intimate glimpse into the heart and mind of one of the world’s most extraordinary women, while providing readers with a guide to becoming their best selves.

The Moment of Lift

by Melinda Gates

Book cover for The Moment of Lift

“When we lift others up, they lift us up, too.” In The Moment of Lift, Melinda Gates shares the remarkable stories of women she has met over the past twenty years and the journey she took to achieve equality in her marriage. Through these stories and the startling data about the world issues that most need our attention, Melinda presents a rousing call to action for women’s empowerment. 

The Stranger on the Bridge

by Jonny Benjamin

Book cover for The Stranger on the Bridge

and Britt Pflüger

In 2008, Jonny Benjamin stood on Waterloo Bridge, planning to jump, until a stranger stopped to talk to him. That stranger saved Jonny’s life. In his candid memoir, Jonny tells the story of how he got to the bridge in the first place, how he continues to manage his diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, as well as what happened when he tried to find the stranger who helped him, six years later. The Stranger on the Bridge is a book about second chances and the power of connection.

Discover even more uplifting books, here.

‘In my world, the word inspirational gets bandied around a lot, but Jonny Benjamin is truly deserving of that adjective.’
HRH The Duke of Cambridge


More great self-care reads

Where's My Happy Ending?

by Anna Whitehouse

Book cover for Where's My Happy Ending?

This Sunday Times bestseller by Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson, co-founders of the Mother Pukka website, has some questions. What does happily ever after feel like? Can love last forever? Is there any such thing as 'the one'? Anna and Matt ask these questions of a one-time sex-worker and her former gigolo husband, celibate monks and free-loving hippies. They ask couples, singles, throuples, queer, straight, pansexual and gay. And, with honesty and humour, they ask questions of their own relationship after ten years of marriage.

Cracking the Menopause

by Mariella Frostrup

Book cover for Cracking the Menopause

It's time to start talking about the menopause. In Cracking the Menopause, journalist and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup and health writer Alice Smellie are determined to bring the subject to light. Writing with humour and honesty, they share their own stories, the latest scientific discoveries and case studies from a variety of women. A rich source of advice and information, with light-hearted illustrations and heartfelt testimonies.

Think Like a Breadwinner

by Jennifer Barrett

Book cover for Think Like a Breadwinner

In a quarter of UK homes, women are now the main breadwinners. But most women aren't raised to think like breadwinners. This manifesto for working women challenges unconscious bias, with financial expert Jennifer Barrett encouraging women to build their wealth, follow their full earning possibilities, provide for themselves and others and thus find freedom. Discover a wide range of case studies that add depth to a compelling narrative.

Recovery

by Russell Brand

Book cover for Recovery

In the age of addiction, it's hard to even decipher whether you are an addict or not, and which unhealthy habits and connections are holding your existence together. Outlining this recovery programme, Russell Brand writes from his own experience, as an addict to drugs, alcohol, sex, money, love and fame. The system he outlines offers freedom from self-centredness, a new outlook, and liberation from the illusion of suffering.


Here, Emma shares her top tips for things to do when you're not feeling creative. 

Book Break - 7 things to do when you're not feeling creative