When the UK’s national lockdown was first announced, I felt frustrated and annoyed even though I understood why it needed to happen. At the time, I was looking for my next role and then my job search came to a sudden halt. I wondered (read: panicked) about how the pandemic would affect my finances. My mind started to desperately think of things I should do during this period to stay busy and productive.
How can I look after my mental health during this time and ensure my self-esteem remains intact? Is it even possible to not feel constantly overwhelmed and anxious about everything going on in the world? I turned to the self-help books on my shelf to seek the answers to those questions. As lockdown is a thing of the past (but COVID-19 is not!), I wanted to share the self-help books I read from April to June, as well as the online courses and webinars that made quarantine more pleasant for me. I hope you find my recommendations below helpful.
I picked this book up at Penguin Platform’s Christmas party last year and I’m glad I did. It’s full of practical advice and solutions for managing anxiety. Brotheridge shares some of her experiences and acknowledges how crippling and horrible it can be living with anxiety every day. I felt completely understood when reading this book. I’m a natural worrier and have found it increasingly difficult not to feel entirely stuck and hopeless during this pandemic.
The Anxiety Solution is an uplifting and encouraging read that helps to boost confidence and improve self-esteem. It’s geared more towards women and is perfect if you’re the type of person who often compares themselves to others and feels like they’re not enough. If you struggle with self-doubt, imposter syndrome, low self-esteem and are the type of person who often has a thousand things whizzing around in their heads at a time, this is worth picking up.
Financial instability and hardship are an unfortunate reality for many people as a result of the pandemic. Naturally, I found myself reaching for Money: A User’s Guide. Financial journalist Laura Whateley breaks down the most significant areas of personal finance including housing, saving, pensions, taxes, stocks, investments and debt. Whateley’s voice is very friendly, conversational and authoritative without being patronising and judgemental. This book is straightforward and to the point. It made me realise how underdeveloped my financial literacy is and I’m now taking steps to rectify that. For instance, I wasn’t aware of the additional costs involved in buying a property, or the different types of pensions available, or how stocks, shares and taxes work.
If you have substantial financial knowledge then you probably won’t learn anything new from this book. Still, it’s a great guide to have to hand if you want to understand money better and level up your finances.
Free finance resources you may find helpful:
3. How to Go to Work: The honest advice no-one ever tells you at the start of your career by Lucy Clayton and Steven Haines
How to Go to Work is an “indispensable guide to surviving and thriving at work”. This is a particularly brilliant book for school leavers, graduates and younger career changers. I love the book’s structure and the fact that it features pearls of wisdom from several contributors. The first section offers CV, LinkedIn and job interview advice while discussing Saturday jobs, work experience, internships, apprenticeships and volunteering. The authors also touch on dress codes, meetings, money, authenticity and so much more later in the book.
The most informative section for me was ‘The Bad Days’. It addresses topics such as dealing with difficult colleagues and bosses, making mistakes and navigating office politics. I appreciate how honest this section is. Everyone has awful days at work, and it’s important to discuss what to do when things go wrong, as well as getting our foot in the door and making a good impression once we’re inside the building. This book is packed with information and advice while being interactive, practical and straight-talking. The authors’ voices are friendly and conversational, which makes it a joy to read. I’m currently trying to break into an industry that is very white, middle-class and virtually impenetrable so I feel like How to Go to Work was published at the perfect time. This is a book I will keep within reach and dip into often.
More Than Enough is Elaine Welteroth’s inspirational and empowering part-memoir, part-manifesto. If you’re not familiar with Elaine Welteroth, she’s a biracial Black woman from Los Angeles who made history in 2012 as Teen Vogue’s first African-American beauty director. She later became the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief in 2016, making her the youngest person in Conde Nast’s history to do so.
Lockdown was the perfect time for me to read More Than Enough. In the first half of 2020, self-doubt and imposter syndrome almost cripple me. In the book, Welteroth talks candidly about her triumphs, setbacks and self-doubt as well as race, identity and belonging. This book is all about stepping into your power, going after what you want and embracing who you are. I loved it. Everybody should read this book because Elaine is simply incredible, but I highly recommend it to ambitious black women and women of colour. There is much to be learned from her journey about finding your voice and your purpose and being the only Black person in the room. It’s an easy, motivational and practical read filled with pearls of wisdom. Elaine’s voice is so warm and witty. Reading More Than Enough feels like you’re talking to a wise, straight-talking friend that you’ve known for years. As a journalism graduate myself, I loved reading all about Welteroth’s journalism career, from her beginnings at Ebony magazine to her historic appointments at Teen Vogue. I can’t rave about this book enough.
Future Learn (digital education platform)
Online courses have helped to keep me focused and mentally stimulated while being stuck at home. I love Future Learn because there are countless free courses available and it’s easy to track your progress. In the past couple of months, I completed Becoming Career Smart and Managing Your Online Identity which I found worthwhile. There are at least five other courses I want to complete this summer. If you’re not signed up with Future Learn, do it today! You’re welcome.
F*ck Being Humble (event series and mentoring platform)
I discovered Stefanie Sword-Williams’ platform F*ck Being Humble around Christmas time last year. In February, I attended my first FBH event which was all about the art of networking and loved it. Since then, I’ve participated in all of Stefanie’s online workshops. Her mission is to help people overcome the fear of self-promotion. I often struggle to big myself up and have found Stefanie’s workshops massively helpful. I highly recommend checking out the F*ck Being Humble events and pre-ordering her book which is out in September.
OK Mentor (mentorship programme)
I registered for Ok Mentor’s free 4-week mentorship programme in April not knowing what to expect, after seeing the account mentioned in an IG story. The course covered topics like CVs, job applications, networking, side hustles, freelancing, public speaking and more. I was impressed with how much information the programme packed into four sessions and felt like I learned something new each week. Ok Mentor co-founders Liz Stone and Stephanie Stanley are lovely and I admire how they are helping so many women to succeed. Follow Ok Mentor on Instagram and keep an eye out for future training and mentorship opportunities if you’re a young woman trying to break into the creative industries.
Confident and Killing It (Organisation empowering women to realise their worth)
Confident and Killing It popped up on my radar a year ago when I attended a #Merky Books event. At a book launch for Taking Up Space, founder and qualified confidence coach Tiwalola Ogunlesi delivered a passionate workshop on confidence and self-belief. I love her energy and have been following Confident and Killing It ever since. She recently delivered a Zoom webinar series called ‘Killing It As An Entrepreneur’ and I took so much away from each session even though I’m not an entrepreneur. The calibre of guests she rounded up for each webinar was brilliant. Each discussion was so enlightening and honest. I recommend checking out all the resources available on the CAKI website. As a big self-love advocate, I’m a huge fan of what Tiwa is doing with Confident and Killing It.
Have you read any self-help books or taken online courses/classes in recent months? Let me know in the comments!