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Lockdown book review: 6 books for handling big emotions and living well

Lockdown book review: Woman sitting in a window reading a book

For many of us, lockdown is a pressure cooker of big emotions. Whether we’re idly wondering how to fill up yet another day or rushed off our feet with work, homeschooling and caring responsibilities, these are not normal times. And our normal emotional responses are all over the place. Then add into the mix that some of us are drinking more than we want to, and others of us are struggling with cravings for alcohol, and lockdown can turn into a breakdown. So how on earth does a lockdown book review help?

Escaping into a book can give you a break from the pressures of lockdown, quarantine or self-isolation, and the right book can also give you tools to be able to deal with the difficulties better. Find a great book, and you might even emerge from this strange time happier and healthier than you’ve ever been.

Lockdown book review: How to Be a Mindful Drinker cover

If you want a book specifically about changing your drinking, check out our review of new quit lit and mindful drinking books, including Club Soda’s very own book How to Be a Mindful Drinker (if you’re counting the books in this review, our book is the number 1 recommendation, of course…). But for this lockdown book review, we wanted to take a different approach.

This review suggests five more books to help you not just survive lockdown, but to thrive. We’ve focused on books to help you deal better with big emotions like anxiety. And we’ve got some recommendations for books on happiness, building connections and being fully present in your life.

Oh, and if finding quiet time for reading feels like a fantasy right now, we understand. Every one of these books is available for Kindle, but you can also listen to them as audiobooks. So if you need to drown out the sound of kids screaming at each other, we’ve got you covered.

Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them (Tina Gilbertson)

Lockdown book review: Constructive Wallowing cover

Big emotions can make us feel so uncomfortable than many of us deal with them by trying to pretend that they don’t exist. In this book, psychotherapist Tina Gilbertson explains how allowing ourselves to feel our emotions lets us experience them and then let them go. Packed with helpful tips and practical advice for handling big feelings, Constructive Wallowing can help you reset your relationship with your emotions. Gilbertson argues that every emotion, even negative ones, has a value to us.

Whether your lockdown experience has prompted painful or pleasant emotions, Constructive Wallowing can help you acknowledge and live well with them. The book includes a wallowing workout – ten guided exercises to become more comfortable with your emotions – and advice on finding a feelings-friendly therapist.

The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, a Calmer You (Chloe Brotheridge)

Lockdown book review: The Anxiety Solution cover

Worry is a normal response to uncertainty, but for some of us, anxiety can get out of hand. The Anxiety Solution is written by clinical hypnotherapist and nutritionist Chloe Brotheridge and offers her first-hand experience of dealing with anxiety as well as her insights from helping others overcome anxiety.

Anxiety can be a teacher, says Brotheridge, if we’re willing to listen to what it is telling us. The Anxiety Solution offers a practical approach to building your confidence, making decisions, relaxing and eating well to increase your ability to deal with your worries. The book also includes an Anxiety Solution Toolkit packed with practical techniques to help you face the challenges of life calmly and confidently.

Together: Loneliness, Health and What Happens When We Find Connection (Vivek Murthy)

Lockdown book review: Together cover

Just weeks ago, none of us knew what social distancing meant. But separated from friends, family and the people we love, loneliness can begin to creep in.

Former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s book Together was written in pre-coronavirus times, but it’s just been re-released with a new foreword. Together doesn’t just explore the impacts of isolation, but provides a handbook to building connections with others. Murthy’s simple suggestions – like spending 15 minutes a day talking to someone you care about, embracing the gifts of solitude and finding practical ways to help others – are designed to remind us of the value of being together, even in this time when coronavirus pushes us apart. Together is filled with beautiful stories about human connection, and it might inspire you to reach out and make some new connections of your own.

The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success (Emma Seppälä)

Lockdown book review: The Happiness Track cover

In Club Soda, we’re big fans of focusing on the life you imagine for yourself. Looking beyond day-to-day challenges to the bigger picture of who you are becoming can help you put problems into context. But so much self-help literature about goal setting is about striving to do more, and that can lead to more stress and worry. We need to learn to be kind to ourselves too.

Emma Seppälä’s book The Happiness Track provides a positive approach to pursuing happiness without damaging ourselves in the process. Drawing on the latest scientific research on happiness, resilience, willpower, compassion, positive stress, creativity and mindfulness, the book is full of practical strategies for bringing happiness into your life. If you want to take a step back and think about the big picture, The Happiness Track can give you the tools you need.

Stop Missing Your Life: The Power of Being Present to Grow, Change and Find Happiness (Cory Muscara)

We describe Club Soda as a mindful drinking movement, and inevitably that means that someone will ask us about meditation. The link between mindfulness and meditation is etched into people’s minds, and we always have a job on our hands to explain that mindfulness is an attitude to life, not just a meditation practice. So we were really excited to stumble on Cory Muscara’s book Stop Missing Your Life.

Lockdown book review: Stop Missing Your Life cover

Stop Missing Your Life centres on mindfulness and meditation as a way developing a deep presence in your own life. Muscara’s down-to-earth and practical approach introduces some simple exercises to help you focus, giving you permission to be human, to explore the world with curiosity and to love and appreciate your body.

In the end, Muscara suggests, all of this is about “softening the walls that keep you from fully connecting with yourself, others, and the world.” In these days when we’re surrounded by walls that separate us from others, we think that’s a message everyone needs to hear.

What’s on your lockdown reading list?

So, that’s our lockdown book review. We hope the books we’ve suggested are helpful. You can help us at Club Soda by following the links and buying them from Amazon – we get a small affiliate fee for every sale, which helps us do more to support people change their drinking.

All these books are non-fiction, of course. But stories can inspire and help us too, sometimes in unexpected ways. So we’d love to hear about the fiction books that are on your reading list or waiting for you in your audio playlist. What would you recommend to others? Drop us a line and let us know – we’ll be producing a lockdown book review which focuses on fiction in the coming weeks, and we’d love to include your favourites.

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