What to do when the self-help books don’t help

The self-help has continued to rise in popularity over the past few years, with the industry making a minimum of $10 billion per year  in the U.S. alone.

I personally can’t get enough of self help books. This might sound a bit counterproductive as surely if self help really helped why would you need to keep buying different books? But I love hearing different pieces of advice about how to improve your life in a positive way. I mean let’s face it, the reason I started Making it Mindful was to create a space where I could share my experiences of trying some of the things I read about, seeing how they worked out and sharing them in case it could help anyone else.

But recently I have been feeling quite down following the hand in of my thesis, as I discussed in this post. I’ve heard of people suffering from ’empty nest syndrome’ but I feel like I have a serious case of ’empty desk syndrome’…Anyway, I thought well, it’s natural to feel a bit strange after a big change in your life but not to worry I have read lots of books about how to feel better so I’ll just follow that advice and I’ll be fine right?

Wrong. It didn’t make me feel better. Knowing all of this helpful advice that I’d read and then not following any of it because I completely lacked motivation made me feel worse.

For example, the books told me that (preferably every morning) I should be meditating, exercising, eating a super nutritious breakfast, writing in my journal, saying multiple affirmations out loud and set my goals and intentions for the day. This is a lot to do before work at the best of times, but when you don’t know if you’ve got the energy to get out of bed and it’s an achievement that you’ve got dressed and made yourself look relatively presentable in the morning, all the other stuff kind of goes out of the window. What this led to, for me at least, was a lot of guilt and feeling like I should be doing a lot of things that I wasn’t. 

But the last couple of days I’ve come to the realization that it is simply not possible to follow all of the advice that I’ve read. Self-help is there to help us and it really can, so long as we realize that we don’t have to follow all of the advice all of the time.

On her podcast, Jess Lively mentioned that we should think about what would help us to help ourselves in that moment, and I love this approach. It might not always to be appropriate to meditate, to journal or to do a bit of yoga…you might just need a glass of water and an early night, and that’s ok. The main thing is that you do whatever is best for you at the time.

So, whilst self-help books are useful for inspiration, we should really be asking ourselves what we need to feel better, as ultimately we know ourselves better than any self-help book ever could.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this post? And if you like this post, I’d love it if you could share it with your family and friends.

Thank you as always for reading.


Chrissy x

For more info:

Confessions of a PhD student

Find out more about Jess Lively here





10 responses to “What to do when the self-help books don’t help

  1. Thank you for this post! I was literally laughing out loud. Since quite a few changes have occurred in my life over the past 2 years, I have become obsessed with self-help books. It’s like I’m finding a million things that are “wrong” with me or are “holding me back” and I have to fix them ALL AT ONCE! Eventually I got exhausted with the constant self-assessment/self-improvement cycle. I’m now coming back around again and find your advice to be key, what is going to help me “in this moment?” Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It can be exhausting can’t it! The key think is coming to realise that you know what you need more than anyone else, you just have to listen to yourself 🙂
      Thanks for taking the time to read my post!


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