The Best Stress Management Books, Recommended by a Counselor

Feel mentally lighter and in control of your emotions with these calming reads

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While stress is an inevitable part of life, recent years have brought more intense stress than usual. Some stress is actually helpful as it can help us perform better on tests, when giving presentations, or preparing for a big event. But too much stress, or chronic stress, can be detrimental to our health, relationships, self-image, and quality of life. Long-term or prolonged stress can have detrimental effects over time. Because stress is an inevitable part of life, we could all benefit from a consistent stress management routine.

There are many options, techniques, and daily routines we can choose from and even combine together to create an individualized and beneficial stress management routine that works. In reality, stress is not the problem, but rather the lack of ability to cope or manage the stress. Self-help books that target stress management can be a beneficial and effective place to start.

Here are the best stress management books on the market, according to a licensed mental health counselor.  

Mindfulness for Stress Management by Dr. Robert Schachter

  • Many techniques to choose from

  • Effective techniques

  • Easy-to-use format

  • May be too general for some anxiety types

  • With 50 techniques, it can be overwhelming

  • Techniques will require practice

With 50 science-backed stress management techniques offered, Dr. Schachter teaches readers how to tackle many types of stress, including family, parenting, work, and life pressures.

By focusing on breath control and mindfulness, readers can learn and practice how to maintain serenity and sound-mindedness in chaotic situations.

Price at time of publication: $16

What Experts Say

“As a psychotherapist, I often recommend books to clients. The best stress management books will be based on science, including neuroscience (the brain) and clinical research."—April Forella, LMHC-S LPC

Zen as F*ck Journal by Monica Sweeney

  • Hilariously funny

  • Interactive and fun

  • Beautifully designed

  • Swearing is not for everyone

  • Focuses on journaling but not specific stress management techniques

  • Does not address in-depth topics

If thinking happy thoughts about singing birds and swaying trees is just not going to cut it for you, then a profanity-laced journal might just be the ticket. Anger and stress often go hand and hand, and believe it or not, swearing can help relieve that anger. Plus, this book is just hilarious!

Price at time of publication: $15

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

  • Entertaining and helpful stories

  • Author is an expert in this area

  • Effective techniques

  • Long length at 352 pages

  • Reader may require further processing

  • Vulnerability is a difficult practice to begin

Researcher and TED Talk legend Brené Brown shows readers how to own their personal story in order to take ownership of their life's journey and direction. Avoidance of ourselves can set us up for feelings of chronic anxiety and stress.

Embracing even the painful parts of our stories helps us feel more in control and certain of where we want our futures to go.

Price at time of publication: $18

A Mindulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Elisha Goldstein, PhD and Bob Stahl, PhD

  • Effective, researched techniques

  • Targeted to specific stressors

  • Workbook allows for individualized plan

  • Best when used in conjunction with therapy

  • Workbook can feel like school to some

  • Difficult to implement if too busy

Most people become self-critical and irritated when dealing with stress. Authors Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., and Bob Stahl, Ph.D., teach readers how to trade self-criticism for mindfulness-based stress reduction.

By focusing on present sensations and emotions, one can replace stress-promoting habits with mindful habits.

Price at time of publication: $21

The Strengths-Based Workbook for Stress Relief by Ryan Niemiec

  • Helpful, positive outlook 

  • Positive focus on strengths

  • Effective techniques

  • Workbook may feel like schoolwork

  • Best used with other techniques

  • Will take practice to implement techniques

Psychologist Ryan Niemiec uses positive psychology techniques to help readers identify their best strengths and use those strengths to manage stressors. In states of chronic stress, people tend to forget their strengths and positive character traits and just focus on the negative.

According to evidence-based research, positive character traits offer a unique gateway to stress management and happiness.

Price at time of publication: $25

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski, DMA

  • Addresses a very important topic

  • Effective techniques

  • Entertaining read

  • Gender-specific

  • Narrow topic

  • Longer length at 304 pages

Because women can experience burnout differently than men, sisters Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, have put together what has been referred to as “the gold standard of self-help books” to help women avoid and heal from episodes of burnout.

The techniques in this book have been endorsed and used by Brené Brown and maintain an almost five-star rating from readers.

Price at time of publication: $50

The Stress Management Handbook by Dr. Eva Selhub

  • Focuses on building healthy relationships

  • Effective techniques

  • Easy and fun to read 

  • Some techniques require participation from others

  • Best used with therapy

  • May uncover new layers of issues

Our most intense emotions, both positive and negative, often come from our interactions with other people. In this workbook, Dr. Eva Selhub teaches readers how to speak and live authentically and honestly from a place of love rather than frustration and anger.

Positive relationships with others make every stressful aspect of life much more manageable and hopeful.

Price at time of publication: $18

The Joy of Movement by Dr. Kelly McGonigal

  • Important, often overlooked topic

  • Backed by sound research

  • Can be bonding for a family

  • Addresses one technique only

  • Difficult to implement in a pandemic

  • Difficult to implement with chronic pain

Dr. Kelly McGonigal has studied stress, its effects, and the absolute best management techniques for her entire career. Through research in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience, Dr. McGonigal shows how different types of movement can not only decrease stress but also increase joy.

This book is a must if you work from home or have a desk job.

Price at time of publication: $18

Stress-Proof by Dr. Mithu Storoni

  • Very informative

  • Sound techniques

  • Focuses on the brain

  • Lengthy at 288 pages

  • May be too clinical for some

  • Requires layers of daily habit changes

The most detailed stress book on the market, each chapter addresses a different aspect of stress—from inflammation, cortisol levels, and emotional triggers.

Dr. Storoni focuses on not only how to protect the body from the negative effects of stress, but also how to increase resilience and create habits that help the body to recover from stress quickly.

Price at time of publication: $26

The Self Care Prescription by Dr. Robyn Gobin

  • Goal-oriented

  • Focuses on logistics

  • Addresses total spectrum of care

  • Too logistical for some

  • Best used with accountability

  • Easy to stop if priorities shift

Self-care is what a person needs to operate at their best level. This requires attention to multiple aspects of our lives, including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational.

Dr. Robyn Gobin addresses all of these aspects with actionable self-care goals to increase productivity and reach desired goals.

Price at time of publication: $15

The Stress Solution by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee

  • Easily implemented

  • Effective techniques

  • Very informative and educational

  • Lengthy at 272 pages

  • Best used with accountability

  • Some may need more emotional work

Dr. Chatterjee states that 70 to 90 percent of general practitioner visits are related to stress. In this book, he has developed research-based techniques that focus on small changes in daily life habits that lead to big stress management results over time.

By focusing on small changes, people begin to feel more in control and positive about how they feel and their quality of life.

Price at time of publication: $5

Final Verdict

Mindfulness for Stress Management is a good place to start to explore what techniques work best for you and what aspects of your life are creating the most stress. The Zen as F*ck: A Journal offers much-needed comic relief in a very serious topic and phase of life. 

What to Look for in Stress Management Books 

Evidenced-Based Techniques

A lot of books are based on theories or opinions about what techniques will work or have worked for the author personally, but few focus on evidenced-based techniques backed by science and research. Make sure the books you chose are not just someone’s long-winded opinion. 

Targeted to Your Specific Stress

Different kinds of stress can affect people differently. While some stressors are easily dealt with and managed, others might stick to our brains like velcro. Pick books that address your stress needs specifically and offer management options so you can better individualize a plan and routine. 

Meets Your Current Routine

If you are over-your-head busy, pick an easy-to-read and easy-to-implement book that does not take up too much time. On the flip side, if you are in a place where more focus and attention can be given to self-improvement, choose a more in-depth and informative book. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What's the best way to deal with stress?

    While it’d be nice to know exactly how to find your inner calm, there’s truly no “best way” to deal with stress and anxiety. Many methodologies exist, ranging from spending time outdoors to exercise to meditation.

    What’s most important is understanding the source of your stress, avoiding triggers as best as you can, and creating (and sticking to) a personalized daily routine that helps you feel more relaxed throughout the day.

  • How will a workbook help me manage stress?

    Stress management workbooks come in many varieties, but the ultimate goal for each is to help you identify, work through, and mitigate chronic stress.

    Some are journals with helpful prompts that get you thinking about your stress in new ways. Others provide interactive quizzes and questionnaires that do the same, and others take a textbook approach with chapters that address specific issues. Choose the type of stress management workbook that appeals to you most to reap the benefits.

  • Can I still read stress management books even if I'm not stressed right now?

    Anyone can read a stress management book—even if they don't feel like they're stressed. The reality is that many of us will experience stress at some point in our lives, and having the tools to cope is highly beneficial.

    Also, it's possible that you may be stressed without realizing it. Sometimes we get so good at coping on a surface level that those underlying feelings of anxiety and stress are the status quo. Signs of high functioning anxiety include being a people pleaser, dwelling on the negative or overthinking, insomnia, inability to say "no," lost time (e.g., arriving too early), and mental or physical fatigue.

    Lastly, reading stress management books can help you empathize and understand others who often feel stressed.

Why Trust Verywell Mind?

As a licensed mental health counselor with over 15 years’ experience working with clients who struggle with mental health and chronic stress, Mary K. Tatum understands the importance of finding quality resources and techniques that work for each person. Not everyone will have the same kind of healing journey. Having lots of options to choose from is vitally important for creating a lifestyle that combats both acute and chronic stress.  

8 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Mary K. Tatum, MS, LMHC
Mary is a licensed mental health counselor and psychotherapist with 15 years of experience working in the psychology field. She earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Bluefield College and a Master of Science in Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She began in social work and then moved to drug rehab settings, working as a therapist, group facilitator, and clinical director. She specializes in family dynamic systems, trauma recovery, improving resilience, addiction recovery, and the psychology of successful business management.