Self Help Resources
This page is to give advice and guidance to patients on a how to manage their long term conditions, how to deal with minor injury and illness that doesn't require treatment for a clinician and give patients advice on several topics.
Recommended Health related books
Below are health related books on topics such general well-being, child-parent relationships, menopause, end of life, grief and sleep.
To generate this list, we have personally asked 1000’s of doctors and patients for their recommendations so hopefully it is a pretty rich list.
The time health professionals have to spend with each person may unfortunately feel too short. It does to us too! Books can distill hours of expert wisdom that can benefit those who enjoy reading. We have not personally read all these books, so we can't endorse everything they say. The list is also not exhaustive.
Mental health book list
Given the importance of mental well-being and the stress many people are under, mental health reading seems a good place to start.
Mental health can be thought of as a scale from very poor to excellent. We see often see patients when they are at rock bottom. For some, a crisis can be a turning point. For others, a crisis is the most difficult time to make positive changes. Anything we do to strengthen our mental health can build our resilience so we cope better when challenges come. So if your mental health is currently reasonable, taking the time to learn more about yourself and helpful strategies can build your resilience for later.
Be aware that that used books are available more cheaply at https://www.betterworldbooks.com At https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/home and Amazon there is usually a ‘used’ option for common books. Also https://reading-well.org.uk is a scheme run by UK libraries with various reading lists- e.g. young people's mental health, long term conditions, dementia. They are all available to borrow through UK libraries and is supported by NHS and GPs.
Books with a * have been recommended by doctors
*Chimp paradox by Professor Steve Peters
Do you sabotage your own happiness and success? Are you struggling to make sense of yourself? Do your emotions sometimes dictate your life? The Chimp Paradox is an incredibly powerful mind management model that can help you become a happy, confident, healthier and more successful person.
* Lost connections Johann Hari
Depression and anxiety are now at epidemic levels. Why? Across the world, scientists have uncovered evidence for nine different causes. Some are in our biology, but most are in the way we are living today. Lost Connections offers a radical new way of thinking about this crisis. It shows that once we understand the real causes, we can begin to turn to pioneering new solutions - ones that offer real hope.
*The Art of Imperfection by Brene Brown
This is the first self-help book I thoroughly enjoyed. Not only does the author define concepts like guilt, shame, self-worth she also shows you how to deal with and practically apply those concepts in real life. It also tells you how to lead a positive life without all the unicorn and rainbow crap you see in other self-help books. Everytime you read it something new sinks in! Like an 'ahaa' moment.
* I had a black dog by Matthew Johnstone.
'Finally, a book about depression that isn't a prescriptive self-help manual. Johnston's deftly expresses how lonely and isolating depression can be for sufferers. Poignant and humorous in equal measure.
An equally touching and beautifully illustrated book, written for those who care for those suffering from depression; friends, family members, colleagues, and even therapists
* Reasons to stay alive by Matt Haig
A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.
*The Silent Guides: by Professor Steve Peters
The Silent Guides explores some neuroscience and psychological aspects of the developing mind, unconscious thinking, behaviours, habit formation and related topics in an easy to understand way. It then offers practical ideas and thoughts for the reader to reflect on using 10 helpful habits
* The Body Keeps the Score - Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma
The effects of trauma can be devastating for sufferers, their families and future generations. Here one of the world's experts on traumatic stress offers a bold new paradigm for treatment, moving away from standard talking and drug therapies and towards an alternative approach that heals mind, brain and body. Steady explanation of the issue of trauma, whether childhood or adult, followed by many varied techniques to deal with it. It armed me with the information I needed to understand what I had repressed, allow it to be there, and then the tools to integrate the traumatised child back into my adult self in a way that helped me to live comfortably.
*The Poetry Pharmacy collected by William Sieghart.
Sometimes only a poem will do. These poetic prescriptions and wise words of advice offer comfort, delight and inspiration for all; a space for reflection, and that precious realization - I'm not the only one who feels like this.
*A manual for heartache by Cathy Retzenbrink ,
Cathy describes how she learnt to live with grief and loss and find joy in the world again. She explores how to cope with life at its most difficult and overwhelming and how we can emerge from suffering forever changed, but filled with hope.
* Mindfulness, finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams. This has become a word-of-mouth bestseller and global phenomenon. It reveals a set of simple yet powerful practices that you can incorporate into daily life to break the cycle of anxiety, stress unhappiness and exhaustion.
*Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine by Derren Brown.
Happy aims to reclaim happiness and to enable us to appreciate the good things in life, in all their transient glory. By taking control of the stories we tell ourselves, by remembering that 'everything's fine' even when it might not feel that way, we can allow ourselves to flourish and to live more happily.
* An Unquiet mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
A definitive examination of manic depression from both sides: doctor and patient, the healer and the healed. A classic memoir of enormous candour and courage, it teems with the wit and wisdom of its creator. 'It stands alone in the literature of manic depression for its bravery, brilliance and beauty.'
When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.
Big Magic - Elizabeth Gilbert
By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys.
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book.
It chronicles Michael's grief at the death of his son Eddie from meningitis at the age of 19. A moving combination of sincerity and simplicity, it acknowledges that sadness is not always avoidable or reasonable and perfects the art of making complicated feelings plain.
A beautifully illustrated read for adults and children about love and loss which explains why it's ok to be sad sometimes.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Jonathan Saffran Foer (fiction)
Oskar is a 9-year-old boy whose father was killed in the 9/11 attack, and who is trying to cope with his grief, partly by going on a quest to find the lock which is fitted by a key his father left. He meets with a variety of characters, some of which are sympathetic, despite having problems of their own. Hardly have I ever read a book so full of tragedy that brings out hope and new beginnings towards its end.
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
An extraordinary portrait of one man’s descent into mental illness. A brave and groundbreaking novel. It is a deeply moving, very well written piece of work It gives a very real insight into what it must be like for those suffering from various sorts of it and why people think as they do.
A Headache In The Pelvis: The Wise-Anderson Protocol for Healing Pelvic Pain by David Wise
Pelvic pain is a very difficult to treat and common medical condition. It is understood that often pelvic floor pain is correlated with psychological distress; the book guides the reader through a holistic treatment integrating physical therapy and meditative relaxation, a protocol that studies show allows one-third of patients to stop all drugs after six months.
‘It really gave me an amazing boost to my healing. Lovely to read too. Experiential yet factual and robust. really helpful for anyone with pain in the pelvis /reproductive organs’
Nonviolent Communication -- A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B Rosenberg
A wonderful solution to the problem of how to communicate pleasantly and effectively with other human beings and to how to considerably increase the chances of you getting your needs met. A very easy concept. But the book explains in detail as to how to apply it and why it works. Has helped me take control of tricky interactions with human beings and optimise the outcome, minimise the stress and maximise the happiness. ‘My marriage began to experience communication problems, Reading this book things changed almost instantly!’
Feel the fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers
Susan Jeffers has helped millions of people overcome their fears and heal the pain in their lives with her simple but profound advice. Whatever your anxieties, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway® will give you the insight and tools to vastly improve your ability to handle any given situation. You will learn to live your life the way you want - so you can move from a place of pain, paralysis, depression and indecision to one of power, energy, enthusiasm and action.
The rules of life by Richard Templar
Over 100 little tips for getting the most out of life, written with humour and very relatable author, who doesn't try to be clever with language. I have now bought it for my daughter and suggests she just dips in and out of it.
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman
Oliver Burkeman turns decades of self-help advice on its head and paradoxically forces us to rethink our attitudes towards failure, uncertainty and death. It’s our constant efforts to avoid negative thinking that cause us to feel anxious, insecure and unhappy. What if happiness can be found embracing the things we spend our lives trying to escape? Wise, practical and funny, The Antidote is a thought-provoking, counter-intuitive and ultimately uplifting read, celebrating the power of negative thinking.
The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi.
A new approach to improving quality of life through your most accessible resource: your breath. Refreshingly simple and practical guide to reestablishing proper breathing techniques that will dramatically improve your physical and mental health. A thorough and inspiring program that you can tailor to your specific needs. Whether you need an energy boost or are seeking a safe, hassle-free way to cope with everyday stress, you will find answers here. These safe and easy-to-learn techniques can also be used to treat asthma, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, arthritis, chronic pain, and other debilitating conditions.
Eleanor Oliphant - Gail Honeyman (fiction)
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than... fine? A powerful, uplifting, thought-provoking, funny, and absorbing book. It tackles loneliness in a brilliant way, using wonderful, believable characters.
The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz
Stephen Grosz puts across the frailties of the human condition with total reverence, understanding and compassion. He tackles lots of the issues that seek to intrude into our everyday lives and each one is written about in plain, easily read language.
The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell
Emma Mitchell's richly illustrated and evocative diary records her nature finds over the course of a year and shows how being in the wild benefits our mental and physical wellbeing. She suffers with depression, and has done for twenty-five years. She swapped days in the office for walks in the wood. There she began to get better. And better. Her encounters with nature proving to be as medicinal as any therapy or drug. This is a book for those who want to bring a little piece of the outdoors with them, whether you struggle with low mood or just love discovering more about the natural world.
Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection
Dr. Sarno is a medical pioneer whose program has helped thousands of people find relief from chronic back conditions without drugs, physical therapy, or dangerous surgery. With case histories and the results of in-depth mind-body research, Dr. Sarno describes how patients recognize the emotional roots of their TMS and sever the connections between mental and physical pain... and how, just by reading this book, you may start recovering from back pain today.
The Choice by Edith Eger.
In 1944, sixteen-year-old ballerina Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive. The horrors of the Holocaust didn't break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience. The Choice is her unforgettable story. It shows that hope can flower in the most unlikely places.
The Reality Slap: How to survive and thrive when life hits hard by Russ Harris
Sometimes it can feel like there's a gap between what we plan or hope for in our lives and the reality we're faced with – what ever this is, it can cause us great distress. Based on the scientifically proven mindfulness-based approach called 'Acceptance and Commitment Therapy' (ACT), this self-help book will teach you how to cope effectively when life hurts and you will learn not only how to survive life's unexpected curve balls, but also how to thrive, despite them
Burn after writing by Sharon Jones
The phenomenally popular secret journal filled with private prompts for personal reflection, self-exploration, and fueling creativity. Push your limits, reflect on your past, present, and future, and create a secret book that's about you, and just for you. This is not a diary, and there is no posting required. And when you're finished, toss it, hide it, or Burn After Writing.
Food and lifestyle
How we live, eat, move and relate to others has more impact on our health than anything. These books give inspiration, science and practical ideas that can help us to make steps towards health.
* Four Pillar Plan by Rangan Chatterjee’s
An incredibly simple framework for taking control of our health. He divides health into four pillars: diet, rest, sleep and movement. By making small, easily achievable changes in each of these key areas, you can find and maintain good health - and avoid illness.
* 8 week blood sugar diet by Dr M Mosley
n this book about the greatest health problem of our time Dr Michael Mosley pulls together the latest scientific studies and weaves in moving human stories. If you have raised blood sugar levels or type 2 diabetes and are interested in trying to regain full health, this is the book for you.
* Spoon-Fed: Why almost everything we’ve been told about food is wrong by Tim Spector
A groundbreaking book that forces us to question every diet plan, official recommendation, miracle cure or food label we encounter, and encourages us to rethink our whole relationship with food. Diet may be the most important medicine we all possess. We urgently need to learn how best to use it, not just for our health as individuals but for the future of the planet.
*Fast, Feast, Repeat by Gin Stephens on intermittent fasting and the insulin hypothesis of weight loss/gain
Diets don't work. You know you know that, and yet you continue to try them, because what else can you do? You can Fast. Feast. Repeat. After losing over eighty pounds and keeping every one of them off, Gin Stephens started a vibrant, successful online community with hundreds of thousands of members from around the world who have learned the magic of a Delay, Don't Deny(R) intermittent fasting lifestyle.
* The Circadian Code by Satchin Panda
New science is revealed, showing that the timings of our day (when we eat, sleep, exercise, work) are more crucial than we ever thought before. And that, most importantly, if your daily schedule is out of sync with your circadian rhythms, you can fix it!
* Magical art of tidying up by Marie Kondo
Transform your home into a permanently clear and clutter-free space. It will not just transform your space. Once you have your house in order you will find that your whole life will change. You can feel more confident, you can become more successful, and you can have the energy and motivation to create the life you want.
Alignment matters by Katie Bowman
Clear, engaging, enjoyable and unconventional ride through the human body, include stretches, habit modifications, spiritual insights, and enough belly laughs to soften even the tightest psoas. Couch potatoes, professional athletes, and everyone in between all have something to learn about movement. With this book readers will gain a better understanding of the incredible, complex, and always fascinating human body.
Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink
Studies have shown that 90% of our eating decisions are made without any conscious choice. Dr Brian Wansink lays bare the facts about our true eating habits to show that awareness of our patterns can allow us to lose weight effectively and without serious changes to our lives. Forget calorie counting and starving yourself and learn the truth about why we overeat in this fascinating, innovative guide.
The 28 Day Alcohol-Free Challenge: Sleep Better, Lose Weight, Boost Energy, Beat Anxiety by Ruari Fairbairns
Be happier, healthier and more productive by taking a break from booze! An essential day-by-day guide packed with inspiration and practical help, The 28 Day Alcohol-Free Challenge is the only help you need to reset your drinking habits and discover a hangover-free world of quality time to achieve your goals. Including having a great time at parties, resisting appeals from friends to 'just have the one' and, most importantly, how to make the most of the health benefits of going sober.
111 online is a fast and convenient alternative to the 111 phone service and provides an option for people who want to access 111 digitally.
Your needs will be assessed and you will be given advice about whether you need:
- Treat yourself at home
- Go to a Primary Care Centre
If you need face to face medical attention you may be asked to attend a Primary Care Centre.
Click here to access NHS 111 online or call 111 to speak to a staff member.