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National Reading Month: Books for Mental Health

March was National Reading Month, and along with exercise, reading is another excellent and natural tool for managing mental health. Studies have shown that reading can reduce stress, provide a healthy escape, improve understanding of others, and help you identify with others in similar situations. Just like a good run clears the mind and boosts your mood, diving into a great book can transport you, reduce stress, and offer a fresh perspective on life's challenges.

Reading is Fun:

What you choose to read is entirely up to you. Reading should be about enjoyment as much as it is about learning. The beauty of reading is that there is so much freedom in the selection process. Not to mention, if the book you chose isn’t quite your taste, there is no harm in selecting a new one.

Another great thing about reading is that there is an endless supply of books on every topic imaginable. If you are going through a particularly rough patch, choose a book that lifts your spirits. Or if you want to learn more about a hobby—like running! —select a book from someone you admire.  

Open a Book and Grow your Mind:

And reading is free! Make use of the public library system across the country. Getting a library card is free, and with apps like Libby and Hoopla you can read free ebooks or listen to free audiobooks any time you like. In addition, the Little Free Library stands, placed throughout cities and neighborhoods, often offer a wide variety of books to choose from. 

If you need a few recommendations, here are some great books about running and about mental health:

  1. The Comfort Book by Matt Haig. The Comfort Book is a collection of ideas and stories to help get you through tough times. It also includes a list of books the author himself uses when he is working on his own mental health. 

  2. Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor. This inspirational memoir by Olympic medalist Kastor, will encourage you to enjoy running and shoot for your best. She shares her struggles along the way and there are many that recreational runners can relate to. 

  3. Running Is My Therapy: Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, Ditch Bad Habits, and Live Happier by Scott Douglas. Douglas highlights the therapeutic effects of running, backed by scientific research and personal anecdotes. It's an empowering read for those looking to improve their mental health through physical activity.

  4. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown. If self-help is your thing, this Brene Brown tome is an excellent choice. Brown is a researcher on vulnerability. She makes these big emotions we feel regularly seem not so scary and worthy of our understanding. 

5. Choosing to Run: A Memoir by Des Linden and Bonnie D. Ford. Most runners have heard of Des Linden, and her memoir gives a deeper look into her struggles and triumphs. Most notably, the Boston Marathon she won in 2018. It’s a great read and everyone can glean something from Linden’s personal story. 

  1. Meb for Mortals: How to Run, Think, and Eat like a Champion Marathoner by Meb Keflezighi. Another great book by a well-known Olympian and Boston Marathon champion. In this book, Keflezighi breaks down his simple steps to setting goals and going after them. His principles for training, nutrition, and mental preparedness are both inspiring and realistic. It really is a book about running for everyone. 

This list hopefully has at least one book that’ll help you escape and relax for a bit. Happy reading!


By Beth Shaw

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