Bibliotherapy for stress

What is bibliotherapy? Well, health professionals increasingly see the benefit of reading for people suffering from a wide range of physical and psychological problems. In fact, a Government-backed scheme – Reading Well Books on Prescription – 'prescribes' specific books for people struggling with, say, depression or worry through their GP. I have always recommended books to my clients, so this post is part of my ongoing bibliotherapy series (here are my posts on the best books for anxiety, mindfulness, compassion, anger issues and depression).

If you are suffering from stress, you will find these books helpful in managing your stress levels:

1. The SuperStress Solution: 4-week Diet and Lifestyle Programme, Roberta Lee, MD. Dr Lee is an integrative physician, which means she combines the best of evidence-based Western medicine with strategies and techniques from alternative approaches, focusing on meditation and relaxation techniques, sleep, exercise, work/life balance, diet and nutrition. Her argument is that the kind of stress those of us living a 21st-century urban life now suffer is far worse than our parents faced, so it has evolved into SuperStress; a type of chronic stress that is insidious and creeps up on us, given the constant drip, drip of stressors such as 24/7 digital media never letting us relax; the pressure to be perfect parents, partners, family members and employees; the endemic lack of job security; too much sugar, caffeine and alcohol; insufficient sleep and rest; and rolling news bombarding us with scary and upsetting stories. Her argument is very persuasive and it's an excellent book, so highly recommended.

2. How to Deal With Stress, Stephen Palmer & Cary Cooper. This is a sensible, practical guide to reducing your stress by two world-leading experts in stress management. Having trained with Stephen Palmer at the Centre for Stress Management, I can personally vouch for his expertise in this area (he is also an excellent CBT therapist). The authors explain how to identify the cause of your stress, then offer a plan to help manage it. They offer practical guidance on time-management (hardly a scintillating topic, but important if you have a never-ending to-do list and not enough time to do everything on it), exercise and relaxation techniques, as well as nutrition. It's also the shortest of the three books listed here, so is helpful for the time-poor.

3. Overcoming Stress: A Self-help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques, Leonora Brosan and Gillian Todd. When I start working with someone using CBT, I always recommend a book from this Overcoming... series, as they are all written by leading CBT experts in their particular field. Not only will this give you an excellent introduction to stress and its physical, psychological and behavioural impact on you, but it will also explain CBT and how it works; with a particular emphasis on the role of unhelpful thinking in driving your problems with stress.

I hope these books prove helpful. If you would like any more help in dealing with your stress, email

Warm wishes,