The 11 Best Stress Management Books of 2021, According to an Expert

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.  

Our Top Picks
By focusing on mindfulness, readers can practice how to maintain serenity and sound-mindedness in chaotic situations.
The profanity-laced journal strikes a balance between humor and stress relief with its prompts and illustrations.
Researcher and TED Talk legend Brené Brown shows readers how to own their personal story through effective techniques.
A workbook made with researched techniques, it teaches readers how to trade self-criticism for mindfulness-based stress reduction.
While the mentioned techniques in the workbook may take time, it helps readers identify their best strengths and manage stressors.
Tailored to women, it covers how females experience burnout differently than men and includes how to avoid and heal from episodes.
The Stress Management Handbook:
The Stress Management Handbook at Amazon
In this workbook, Dr. Eva Selhub teaches readers how to live authentically from a place of love rather than frustration and anger.
Ideal if you work remotely, this option covers how different types of movement can decrease stress while increasing joy.
Stress-Proof at Amazon
The most detailed stress book on offer, each chapter tackles an aspect of stress, from inflammation and cortisol to triggers.
With a focus on self-care, this book addresses aspects of our lives with actionable self-care goals to increase productivity.

Mindfulness for Stress Management: 50 Ways to Improve Your Mood and Cultivate Calmness

  • 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.

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: Zen as F*ck Journal

  • 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!

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

  • 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.

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

  • 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

The Strengths-Based Workbook for Stress Relief

  • 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.

Burnout: Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

  • 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.

The Stress Management Handbook: The Stress Management Handbook: A Practical Guide to Staying Calm, Keeping Cool, and Avoiding Blow-Ups

  • 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.

The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage

  • 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.

Stress-Proof: Stress-Proof: The Scientific Solution to Protect Your Brain and Body--and Be More Resilient Every Day

  • 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. 

The Self Care Prescription: Powerful Solutions to Manage Stress, Reduce Anxiety & Increase Wellbeing

  • 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. 

The Stress Solution: The Stress Solution: The 4 Steps to Reset Your Body, Mind, Relationships and Purpose

The Stress Solution
  • 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. 

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. 

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.  

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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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