When I was walking through the thick of my anxiety, I turned to books. I immediately go into research mode when I have an issue, I guess you could say it comforts me. What I love about books is that they really let you process things and internalize. I’m always trying to better myself, stay open and stay educated.

*stay tuned for a special announcement at the bottom of this post*

This time of year, I feel like a lot of people are going through “it.” My anxiety wasn’t subject to any particular season, but I do understand how the darker, gloomier, winter months can affect your mood. I want you to feel encouraged and know that you’re not alone. Whether you suffer from extreme panic attacks or you’re just in a rut, we’ve all had some type of experience with anxiety. There are so many resources and tools you can access to help you heal and manage and books are one of them. I say manage, because I don’t think it’s something we can ever get fully clear from. I was trying to overcome and never let it happen again, but the truth is, waves of it come and go through life and I can’t prevent that, but I can equip myself with some tools to help me manage and not let it take me down. It’s so important to guard your thoughts, be mindful and protect your energy. I wanted to share a few books that have helped me gain clarity and work through some of the harder seasons in my life…

THE BIBLE | Author: God *wink*

I’m going to have to put this one at the top, because really friends, this is my go-to book for business, life, marriage, love, grace, kindness, healing and more. If you’re a beginner (I still feel like I am in some ways), I highly recommend a few versions. The amplified version I love is The Everyday Life Bible featuring notes and commentary by Joyce Meyer. I love Joyce’s commentary throughout, it truly helped me digest a lot of the concepts in the bible I at first felt were complex or intimidating. The second would be The Message bible. This version was created and written for our language today. It keeps the gospel message current and understandable (as some old words are hard to grasp or feel too distant for today’s generation). I love how easy it is to read! It’s all about connecting. Reading the word of God is the most healing thing I’ve ever done for myself. They call it the living word for a reason, it is living and breathing and moving in people’s lives. God has a lot of things to say about fear, depression and anxiety and how we can start to become free of it. I’d highly recommend starting here with your reading. I cling on to His promises in this broken world that we live in.

MY NAME IS HOPE | Author: John Mark Comer

This book was the most helpful for me! It was really powerful because it really broke down where my anxiety was stemming from and what was causing some of the depression. It debunked a lot of things I misunderstood and challenged me. It also pointed me even more to my hope — which is Jesus. It’s so easy to lose sight of that, but this book really helped me cling on when I was really struggling to grasp anything good. I’m thankful for this book and it’s the one I pass on the most to my friends who have also struggled. This book covered me in grace and healing, but also inspired me to take action with areas of my life and the patterns/lifestyle I was choosing that was contributing to my anxiety. This line in the book stood out to me the most: “Because he loves you, he’s willing to hold back the answers to your prayers and allow a time of pain, if that’s what it takes, in order to make something beautiful out of you.” I can’t say it enough, our tears and pain will never go to waste. He can always do something with our brokenness.

1000 GIFTS | Author: Ann Voskamp

1000 Gifts taught me about the importance of gratitude (amidst pain and grief). Ann just has the most beautiful, poetic writing (we’ve become friends over the years too and she has the most gentle soul, I learn so much from her). She had a really cool concept — write down 1000 things you’re grateful for in a year. I was able to find way more than 1000 – God is that good (even through years of struggle, heartache, anxiety). Even when life is tough, or we feel anxious, there are things to be grateful for. Shifting my focus and my thoughts on those things, shifted something inside of me. This book made me love my life again. Honestly and truly. I had a very victim mentality of my circumstances or experiences and all that did was produce more anxiety and did not serve me. This book flipped all of that sort of thinking right on its head. Thankful for the lessons in this book.

VICTIM OF GRACE | Author: Robin Jones Gunn

This book poured a lot of grace and calm into my spirit. It was like a personal letter or reminder that no matter what difficulties or pain we’re feeling, God has you through it all. He’s never leaving your side. One of my favourite quotes from the book was this:

“If you have ever been lost in a wilderness, treated unjustly, dealt with harshly, or have fled in fear or in the hope of something better, Hagar’s story is for you. It is evidence of God’s abiding grace, no matter what. You aren’t alone. The Lord sees you. He hears. He knows. He is with you. His grace will comfort you. It’s not unusual to feel as if you are caught like a prisoner in your life. At times you may wonder if something or someone out there is better than what you have now. That’s a common temptation for every human since the garden. But is what you must endure right now unbearable? Deep down, if you’re honest, you know that God is right there with you, even if your situation is uncomfortable, discouraging, or unfair. He is accomplishing his plan for you. His comfort is available. His hope is good. Even in the confines of your situation, an abiding grace resides.”

THE PATH BETWEEN US | Suzanne Stabile

This book doesn’t touch on anxiety at all, it’s actually about the different Enneagram numbers. If you don’t know about the Enneagram, it’s a personality test (a very accurate one, if I might say so) and it also reveals a lot of the pain points (healthy and unhealthy levels of our personality). I’m throwing this one in the mix, because a lot of my anxiety has healed through self awareness and a lot of work on myself. I had to take responsibility for a lot of what I was holding on to, what triggered me and what I could control in the matter of all of this. One of the things I learned from being a Two “The Helper” on the enneagram is that I needed more boundaries. I had none. I would run for anyone at anytime and leave myself high and dry. I was a people-pleaser. I never wanted to disappoint anyone! It’s complex and there are so many layers to this beyond just that, but what I really needed to create were some healthier boundaries and relationships and the Enneagram was just one of things that helped me discover my pain points. I also highly recommend counselling (a pastor or therapist), as this helped me process a lot of issues as well. I could have saved myself from a lot of situations that produced high anxiety for me, if I just knew I needed better boundaries with myself and others to be put in place! It’s all about self awareness with this book. You can take the Enneagram test here or the free one here and here if you’d like to learn more about your own personality! The questions can be a little weird, but somehow they nail it. Neal and everyone in my family has done it and it is spot on!

Finally…I am working on my first devotional for anxious hearts with verses that have encouraged me throughout my journey and sharing some personal stories I’ve never shared before. After having so many of you over the years reach out, email, DM and comment with your questions and your own stories, I felt like I could speak into this and point people to hope. It’s currently still being written, but I do have a newsletter where I’ll be sharing more leading up to the launch, as well as more of a way to connect on this topic with all of you. You can sign up here so you don’t miss out on that project! So many of you have reached out to me and shared your brave stories, which I feel so honoured to even be in the position and trust you have to open up to me. I know this is something that has touched all of our lives and there’s no shame in it, but I never want anyone to drown in it or stay there. There is redemption and spiritual blessings through trials. It’s apart of me, it has shaped me and it’s another way God can use me to help and love people better. I’m sharing more resources, tools and creating things that will hopefully encourage and help you get through the thick of it. Remember: this too shall pass! I can’t wait to bring this to you…

Lots of Love, Steph xoxo