11 Books That Are Perfect To Read On A Much-Needed Mental Health Day

by Kerri Jarema

You've all heard about Mental Health Days. They have become a huge topic of conversation in the past few years. These days, taking off from work not because you're physically ill, have a doctor's appointment or are going on vacation are taken just because, well, you need a break. And the fact is that with everything going on both in the wider world and in our own personal lives, taking a day to decompress, relax, and do whatever you need to do to revitalize your mind, body, and spirit has only become more important as of late. And while it's important to remember that not everyone is so lucky to be afforded to luxury of taking a mental health day (i.e. part-time workers, freelance workers and manual laborers are not often, if ever, paid for time off work), you should never feel guilty for making yourself a priority when you need to.

Whether you're dealing with diagnosable mental health issues like anxiety and depression, or you're just generally feeling burned out, one of the best things you can do on a mental health day is get lost in a good, uplifting book. In my own experience, when in need of a mental break for whatever reason, I find that it's best to pick up a book that is both entertaining and captivating, but not too dense that I lose the thread. The 11 books below are exactly like that: some short and sweet, others you can easily dip in and out of; many highly visual; and more importantly, all full of inspiring, hopeful, hilarious, soul-lifting messages that will have you feeling ready to take on whatever life throws your way.

'Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood' by Mari Andrew

Mari Andrew's book is organized by universal themes of becoming an adult — including loss, adventure, and ambition. Within each chapter, Mari shares her personal experiences in never-before-seen essays, accompanied by spreads of her signature illustrations. Readers are bound to see some of themselves in this book, whether seeking advice on how to handle growing up, or just looking for a friend who can commiserate.

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'Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life' by Cleo Wade

True to her hugely popular Instagram account, Cleo Wade brings her moving life lessons to Heart Talk, an inspiring, accessible, and spiritual book of wisdom for the new generation. Featuring over 120 of Cleo’s original poems, mantras, and affirmations, this book is a daily pep talk to keep you feeling empowered and motivated. Perfect for those mental health days when you need an empowering boost, this book can help you discover and unlock what is blocking you from thriving.

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'Hyperbole and a Half' by Allie Brosh

Allie Brosh's beloved graphic novel is a loud-out-loud collection of weird and wacky stories from her life, from her strange childhood obsessions to her adult experience with depression. All of it is relatable, entertaining, heartwarming and, oh yeah, did I mention hilarious? If you're looking for a light but meaningful read that will have you wiping away just as many happy tears as tears of commiseration, this one's for you.

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'For Every One' by Jason Reynolds

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world. If you're struggling to make a dream come true, this poem will re-inspire and reinvigorate you with the passion and hope you need to take that leap of faith.

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'You Are Here: An Owner's Manual for Dangerous Minds' by Jenny Lawson

When Jenny Lawson is anxious, one of the things she does is to draw. You Are Here is a combination of inspiration, therapy, coloring, humor, and advice. Drawing on the tenets of art therapy — which you can do while hiding in the pillow fort under your bed — this book is ready to be made entirely your own. This one is perfect for anyone who finds keeping their hands busy and minds engaged the best way to relax.

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'Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness' by George Saunders

Three months after George Saunders gave a graduation address at Syracuse University, a transcript of that speech was posted on the website of The New York Times had been shared more than one million times. And it's not hard to see why. This powerful, funny and wise speech will speak to more than just graduates, as Saunderrs speak about tapping into our desires to lead kinder, more fulfilling lives. It's just the balm you need on a day of rest.

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'Hope In The Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities' by Rebecca Solnit

If it's the real world you need a break from, this one by Rebecca Solnit just might help bring some much-needed perspective to your mind. The author makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her decades of activism and a wide reading of history, Solnit argues that radicals have a long had transformative victories, and how we can avoid pessimism and despair.

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'The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness' by Paula Poundstone

Comedy legend Paula Poundstone takes on that most inalienable of rights — the pursuit of happiness. Offering herself up as a human guinea pig in a series of thoroughly unscientific experiments, Poundstone tries out a different get-happy hypothesis in each chapter of her data-driven search. Will she find happiness through mediation? Volunteering? Taekwondo? You may be laughing too hard to care, but you'll definitely be inspired to seize the day.

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'How To Be A Person In The World ' By Heather Havrilesky

How to Be a Person in the World is a frank and witty collection of material from Heather Havrilesky's wildly popular Ask Polly advice column. Whether she’s responding to cheaters or loners, lovers or haters, the anxious or the down-and-out, Havrilesky writes with equal parts grace, humor, and compassion to remind you that even in your darkest moments you’re not alone.

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'Thriving Through Uncertainty' by Tama Kieves

Tama Kieves knows a thing or two about dramatic changes. She left an unfulfilling life at a prestigious corporate law firm to pursue her passion. Now, she dedicates her time to helping people face their fears, tackle uncertainty, and shift their mindset to achieve the extraordinary in their own lives. This book offers practical, relatable advice for using change as a launching pad for joy.

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'Your Illustrated Guide To Becoming One With The Universe' by Yumi Sakugawa

If mediation is your thing, you're going to love diving into this one on your day off. Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe is a visual journey of self-discovery set against a backdrop of intricate ink illustrations, creating a dreamlike atmosphere to go along with meditative instructions that are meant to help you let go and truly connect with the world around you.

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