Reading for Self-Care with Lauren Woodard / by Madeleine Riley

Readers, today I want to introduce you to a sweet new friend of mine. Lauren Woodard and I met through the #bookstagram channels, and while we love to chat about all things reading, we also love to talk about self-care and mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Lauren was gracious enough to brainstorm a couple reads for those of you looking for some self-care wisdom!


Lauren, tell us about yourself!

Madeleine, thank you so much for having me! Top Shelf Text is one of my favorite bookish blogs, and I am honored and thrilled to be here! My name is Lauren Woodard and I live in the amazing city of Asheville, North Carolina. I am an INFJ and HSP. I love books, my cat Grover Cleveland (who wears a bow tie everyday), and all things coffee and tea related. During the day, I teach as a part-time adjunct professor in the social work department at a local 4 year college here in Asheville. I am also the owner and founder of Bloom Counseling and Consulting, where I see therapy clients on a full-time basis. I have a Master's degree in Social Work and practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). In my work, I focus on treating clients who have anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, a history of trauma, perfectionism, and chronic illness. Outside of work, I enjoy reading, yoga, focusing on self-care, and am currently learning to watercolor! In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I am excited to share some of my favorite personal development reads. 

What would you recommend to readers looking for a personal boost?

The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aaron

This book is one of those rare reads where on each page I told myself "the author is talking about me!" My entire life I have been a sensitive and empathic soul. Sometimes, this has been to my detriment. In other ways, it has guided to me to a career path that I love. This book has helped me see and utilize my sensitive nature as a strength. It has also given me full permission to embrace this part of myself and realize why some things just aren't for me. I also highly recommend the workbook by Elaine N. Aaron as a great compliment to this book. 

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris

I am extremely grateful to have taken two semesters of Mindfulness Meditation classes in college. Learning to utilize meditation each day is something that has truly made me a calmer, more present person. While I certainly have many favorite books about meditation, this is one I love using with those clients who are skeptical about starting a meditation practice. There is also an accompanying smartphone app which is great! 

May Cause Miracles: A 40-Day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited Happiness by Gabrielle Bernstein

This book is one of my absolute favorites of all time. If you find yourself getting in your own way or being unable to turn off those nervous thoughts that spiral into fear, this is the book for you. I bought this book in 2014 when it was first released, and have gone through it several times. Each time, I learn something new about myself and grow in a different way. This book really helped me with subtle shifts in my mindset and increased my gratitude practice. This book was also profoundly helpful to me as I moved through the fear of starting my own business. 

My Year With Eleanor: A Memoir by Noelle Hancock

Those who know me well know that I love a good memoir and My Year With Eleanor happens to be one of my favorites! Published in 2012, My Year with Eleanor follows 29 year old Noelle Hancock as she becomes unemployed, finds herself struggling with anxiety, and needs a change. After seeing an Eleanor Roosevelt quote in a coffee shop that says "Do one thing every day that scares you," Noelle decides to do just. She spends several months challenging herself to experiences out of her comfort zone. This is one of those books that will make you laugh, cry, and laugh so hard you cry. And it will inspire you along the way! 


Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown

“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.”-Brene Brown. 

It would be impossible for me to write about my favorite personal development reads without including Brene Brown. Her newest book, Braving the Wilderness, focuses on how we can show up courageously in our communities, work places, and the world we live in. This book challenges us to put aside our needs to be quiet and fit in so that we may challenge ourselves to show up in the world with genuineness and authenticity. This book is timely and a must read for the day and age we live in. 

For more mental-health related content, you can find Lauren on Instagram @laurenwoodardlcsw or Twitter @lwoodardlcsw. For book related content, find Lauren on Instagram @okayinmybook.