These Self-Help Books Actually Can Help With Burnout

Stress, frustration, anger, exhaustion: When it comes to the workplace, you may have seen (or felt) it all. If your job keeps you too busy to see a therapist, that just compounds the problem. There may be a solution at hand, though — for the cost of a trip to the library.

Psychologists in Switzerland and Germany have been looking into workable alternatives to in-person therapy for stressed-out workers. They asked participants to study self-help books that demonstrated how burnout was associated with emotional rigidity. The books also provided mindfulness exercises based on acceptance and commitment therapy, which participants followed without also consulting a therapist. Three months later, those who'd used the self-help books still reported significant decreases in stress, burnout, and depression.

First things first: If you need a mental health professional, go to a mental health professional. This research does not propose entirely substituting health care access with unvetted literature. But more and more, scientists are concluding that some apps can step in for users who, for whatever reason, can't access trained professionals.

This study does not cite specific books, but both Psychology Today and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science recommend a primer called ACT Made Simple by Australian psychologist Russ Harris. The book is available for purchase around the web, as are Harris-designed online courses, but he also provides some free samples and worksheets on his website. Again, consult a mental health professional if your life feels like it's just too out of control — but if work is getting you down too much to do your job, consider picking up something from the self-help section.