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Further Reading and Resources 

The Stress Prescription synthesizes a tremendous amount of science and contemplative wisdom. Here I’ve compiled some of my favorite books and web-based resources here that have inspired me and allow you to go deeper on certain topics covered in the Stress Rx book. I hope you will explore and enjoy it!
- Elissa Epel 

What practices are in Stress Rx?  There are many options to try throughout the book to fit your life and needs. I highlight the main ones below: 

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Day 1: UNCERTAINTY STRESS AND LIVING DEEPLY 

 

  • Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet, by Joan Halifax and Rebecca Solnit. New York: Flatiron Books, 2018. (Adversity and edge states can lead us to our best qualities).  

 

  • In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey through the Bardos of Living and Dying, 1st ed., by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and Helen Tworkov. New York: Random House, 2019. (Rinpoche describes the mind states that allow us to live with joy while under great uncertainty and stress.)  

 

  • Meditation apps! There are so many good ones, such as 10% Happier, or HeadSpace. There are free ones such as Insight Timer, or the unique Healthy Minds program app. I have created a more extensive list of free apps at cope.ucsf.edu.  

  • For developing a new meditation practice, a great start is taking a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class, ideally in person, which was started by Jon Kabat Zinn, author of many excellent meditation books such as Full Catastrophe Living.  Jon has some mediation audios here.

  • Having a weekly in-person group with sitting and some teachings is a great way to meet a supportive community.  In terms of audio, you might enjoy hearing a top Buddhist scholar, who keeps it simple, based on the oldest texts of Buddhism: 
    Bikkhu Analayo, a German scholar and Buddhist monk, provides all his meditations free/donation online at Buddhist Inquiry under Resources.  Here is mindfulness of breathing meditations.

 

Day 2: LETTING GO OF CONTROL 

  • The Serenity Prayer (adapted serenity prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous recovery programs) is one you may be familiar with. It’s common because it is so true: “May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

  • Pema Chodron, author of When Things Fall Apart. “Things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy”. 
     

  • Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict, 1st ed., by Lama Tsultrim Allione. New York: Little, Brown Spark, 2008. (This technique uses visualization to give shape and color to our “demons”—our negative emotional responses to a relationship or situation—and transforms them into a strength.) Lama Tsultrim leads a “Lama Live” meditation and talks from her Facebook.

  • The Burnout Challenge:  Managing People’s Relationships with Their Jobs, by Christina Maslach and Michael Leiter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2022) 

  • Dealing with serious emotional swings or mental health issues? The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Dis- tress Tolerance, 2nd ed., by Matthew McKay, PhD, Jeffrey C. Wood, PsyD, and Jeffrey Brantley, MD. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 2019.   

Day 3: POSITIVE STRESS MIND STATES TO COMBAT DAILY STRESS, ANXIETY, AND DEPRESSION

 

  • Our internalized stereotypes about aging affect our aging!  This book by the pioneer about the effects of age stigma and stereotypes: Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs about Aging Determine How Long and Well You Live, by Becca Levy. New York: William Morrow, 2022. 

  • The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It, by Kelly McGonigal. New York: Avery, 2016.  

  • For employers: Meru Health. This is a self-help app platform for depression and anxiety, providing evidence-based therapy, biofeedback of heart rate variability, and sessions with therapists trained in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. (Note my conflict of interest; I am on their advisory board.) 

Day 4: HORMETIC STRESS  

  • The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential, by Wim Hof, foreword by Elissa Epel. Louisville, CO: Sounds True, 2020. This unique method is not for everyone, but worth trying!  

 

  • The Better Brain: Overcome Anxiety, Combat Depression, and Reduce ADHD and Stress with Nutrition by Bonnie Kaplan and Julia Rucklidge. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021. (This book describes how diet patterns and micronutrients improve mental health. In addition, certain plant chemicals work partly through hormetic stress processes. TrueHope and Hardy Nutritionals are companies that offer micronutrient supplements).  

  • Which types of exercise help with which types of mental health issues? Explore this interactive website for a comprehensive report. It is easy to find high-intensity interval training videos on the internet. Peloton has classes online, as well as Lanebreak, a HIIT workout disguised as a game.  

Day 5: RECALIBRATING YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM WITH NATURE  

  • Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, in, on, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do, by Wallace J. Nichols. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. 

  • “The Mind, the Human-Earth Connection, and the Climate Crisis Online Course” from the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute, a free seminar available here. (With my colleagues, we have featured top international speakers in a contemplative course with rich information on developing climate resilience and healing our relationship with nature.)  

Day 6: EXPERIENCING DEEP REST  

 

  • Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation that helps people with anxiety and is especially effective right before bedtime to improve sleep. Try these free guided meditations for well-being and for sleep.

  • Consider using a wearable biosensor to help you know what works best for you, and how your nervous system responds during practice and during sleep. My favorite is the Oura ring.  Try heart rate variability feedback such as with the HearthMath product found here

  

Day 7: JOY AND “POSITIVE PILLOWS” 

  

  • Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness, by James Baraz, Shoshana Alexander, Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield. New York: Ballantine Books, 2012.  

  • Greater Good in Action (GGIA): This website is an extensive catalog of activities, exercises, and practices for strengthening skills that promote emotional well-being like awe, gratitude, and compassion. These are drawn from published scientific research, and studies of engagement and impact are directed by my colleagues Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon Thomas.  

  • OUR STUDY APP ON JOY! The Big Joy Project is a website and mobile app, it is a one-week experience we created to promote inner joy and well-being. This is also a citizen science project to discover more about what works for whom, across different regions and countries. We are in over 100 countries already and we hope to reach 100,000 people!  Please share this if you like it and promote big joy science!  

  • Mission: Joy—Finding Happiness in Troubled Times, a documentary about joy amid adversity, and the friendship between His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

 

  • Tank’s Good News: Counter the negative daily news! I cannot help but laugh or smile reading the daily post on Instagram (@tanksgoodnews). Or you can get the newsletter here.  

TO KEEP “RENEWING YOUR PRESCRIPTION” (CONCLUSION):  

  

  • Humanity Rising  is a global broadcast that started with the pandemic, convened by Ubiquity University, with viewers in 130 countries. It provides dialogue by thought leaders addressing global issues and how to build resilience and renewal to ensure the human future. You might feel inspired and more connected globally.

 

  • Great podcast on climate issues: Optimism and Outrage, by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac.

  • Purpose: Living for What Matters Most, a free course on Coursera by Professor Victor Strecher.  

 

  • Talks for those looking for how to live with both ease and climate action: One Earth Sanghaoffers classes and webinars on how to approach the climate crisis from both an engaged active and contemplative perspective. 

  

  • You Matter More Than You Think: Quantum Social Change for a Thriving World, by Karen O’Brien, and Christina Bethell, Oslo, Norway: cChange, 2021.  

  • A book that is our timeless guide: Active Hope, Joanna Macy, and Chris Johnstone.