6 Best Books About Burnout to Help You Handle Your Stress
Is anyone else feeling burnt out right now? Maybe it’s the change in seasons, maybe it’s the fact that we’re hurtling through our one year COVID anniversary, but we’re feeling the stress pile up more than usual.
One of the ways we’re dealing with excess burnout at the moment is by turning to reading. Books have always been a balm for whenever we’re feeling stressed, and even more so when we can learn lessons from the books about what we’re going through. With more and more titles taking direct inspiration from burnout, and looking at how we can conquer our burnout once and for all, it’s clear that books are one way to understand, and get a handle, on our stress levels.
These are some of the best books we turn to when the burnout gets all too real.
6 Best Books About Burnout To Help You Handle Your Stress
1. Can’t Even by Anne Helen Petersen
Remember that viral Buzzfeed essay on burnout that everyone was talking about a few years ago? That was written by Anne Helen Peterson, a former cultural critic for the website and now a freelance writer, and the author of this book. The essay forms the backbone of this much larger tome, which delves into why millennials in particular feel more burnout than usual, and why it’s something that is proving particularly difficult for them to conquer. Conceptual and critical, this book takes a good look at the phenomenon of burnout and what led us to where we are now, as well as offering solutions on how to move forward. A great overview of the issue.
2. Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski
The clue is in the title for this one. Written by sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski, this is a helpful manual about understanding burnout, specifically as it relates to women. The book focuses on how women experience burnout differently to men, and what we can do about it. There is discussion of emotional labour, family dynamics and friendship issues that will all help to further increase our understanding of burnout and the impact it has on our lives. This is a must-read.
3. How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
Impeccably researched and compelling written, How To Do Nothing is a revolutionary title. Jenny Odell’s book wants you to understand that not only is doing nothing good for you, it’s good for the world, too. This book lays out its argument against busyness and burnout in an academic and intuitive way. You’ll be nodding along as you realise that you have put work on a pedestal and lost the ability to let your mind wander. Read it, and then try a weekend in which you do nothing. You’ll find yourself in a much better headspace in no time.
4. Balance & Other B.S by Felicity Harley
Life is messy, says Felicity Harley. And balance is bullshit. How do you avoid burnout, then? This book offers a way through the chaos and mess of our modern lives, helping readers to cut through the noise to realise what’s really important. Like the Nagoski’s Burnout, this book takes a specific look at the way that women have been underserved by traditional narratives about the workforce or the office, and how becoming a mother can make life even harder for women trying to juggle it all. With lots of first person case studies and helpful tips from women just like you, this book is about navigating real life and avoiding burnout in practical and useful ways.
5. Emotional Female by Yumiko Kadota
Emotional Female has only just been released. The story of how a young female surgeon in Australia was driven to burnout and exhaustion, it is a harrowing cautionary tale, and an important look at just how damaging burnout can be. There are big lessons to be learned from reading this book, especially when it comes to making the decision to walk away from a job that is breaking you down, and how to pick yourself back up after going through a major episode of burnout.
6. How To Fail by Elizabeth Day
Since it first launched, How To Fail by Elizabeth Day has become one of the most downloaded and streamed podcasts around, with interview guests including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Andrew Scott and Lily Allen. But this book, which draws together some of the biggest lessons in failure from Elizabeth’s own life, is a crucial counterpart to the podcast, crystallising some of the audio platform’s key takeaways, as well as offering more insight into Elizabeth’s philosophy on failure, and success. Since burnout is often a result of misunderstanding what success is, or looks like – and not realising that always striving can lead to exhaustion – this is an important book for anyone going through similar issues.
In the mood for listening to a podcast instead? Here are 13 feel-good podcasts that will bring you joy.