At Blue KC, we believe in treating the health of the whole person – we refer to this as behavioral health, or the connection between one’s physical and mental well-being. There is no one-step solution to staying healthy, but prioritizing your behavioral health is a great place to start.
Reading is an excellent way to work on your behavioral health while also learning about improving your overall health and wellness. In fact, studies have shown that just a few minutes of reading each day can improve your sleep, reduce stress and keep you sharp. Reading also makes us smarter – it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and strengthen the neural circuits and pathways of our brains. Given how much time many of us have spent on our computers and smartphones throughout the pandemic, reading can also be a helpful tool to break up the hours of screen time.
Some of our leaders have compiled a list of their favorite books about health and wellness to help kick-start your self-care reading list.
Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within
By Latham Thomas
Dana Middleton, Blue KC’s Health Equity and Integration Advocacy Practitioner, says this book offers rich dialogue with which you can connect emotionally, allowing you to identify with the author.
“The author couples those moments of connection with practical tools and reminders of self-care that allow you to reposition your mind so you can continue moving energetically, with a purpose, a killer smile and a little pep in your step,” Dana said.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
by Brené Brown
Dana also recommends this book about self-acceptance, which reminds us not to be bombarded by the barrage of criticisms, but instead, to live your life with all its beautiful flaws.
“These are valued books on my shelf because they each take a different approach to reminding me to step out of the ‘should be’ race, to let go of societal expectations and to remember my purpose,” Dana said. “They remind me to find peace in my journey and joy in each component of it that makes it so special.”
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
by James Nestor
Spira Care Medical Director Dr. Becky Gernon’s favorite health and wellness read was written at the intersection of several of her interests: medicine, public health, behavioral health, and self care. A key takeaway from this read is that many of us have gotten in the habit of breathing in a manner that is detrimental to our health. For many different reasons, in the modern day we are tending to breath with the muscles located in our upper chest instead of the muscles in our lower chest and abdomen. Breathing with our upper chest muscles activates the fight or flight anxiety response, while breathing with the “lower” muscles activates our calming nervous system. In other words, breathing so that one’s abdomen expands is a way to leverage breathing to our advantage in the self-care arena—a simple behavior we can all learn.
Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
by Thich Nhat Hanh
“This book guides the reader toward becoming more mindful and at peace in our everyday life and in relationships,” says Kristin Gernon, a behavioral health training and development specialist at Blue KC. “It is a great introduction to a mindfulness practice, but it also explores how each of us is inextricably linked to one another and to the earth. The author emphasizes how living mindfully promotes love and peace in our communities and globally.”
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Kristin also recommends Option B, penned by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg following the loss of her husband. This book, co-authored with psychologist Adam Grant, speaks to the universal experiences of grief, loss and adversity. It takes the reader on a journey through the grieving process that is both practical and inspiring, teaching us how to build resilience and hope along the way.
The Shame of Me, One Man’s Journey to Depression and Back
by Ryan Lefebvre
Christa Dubill, Blue KC’s Chief Communications Officer, recently participated in a discussion with the Royals to support behavioral health initiatives in the Kansas City community and learned about this book, which was written by broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre about his personal struggles with behavioral health. Blue KC has partnered with Ryan Lefebvre and the Royals on an initiative called Shut Out the Stigma, which aims to bring awareness to behavioral health and normalize conversations about getting help.
“The book was such a raw, honest and ultimately inspiring view into Ryan’s journey with depression,” Christa said. “Most in our city would never had guessed the voice of the Royals was struggling with despair, self-doubt and thoughts of suicide. This a quick read that simultaneously reminds the reader you never know what others are going through, and a voice of support for anyone finding themselves in a darkened, concerning mental state.”
If you need assistance from a behavioral health expert, help is here for you 24/7. Blue KC’s Mindful Advocates, licensed behavioral health clinicians and support specialists, are experts at navigating care and crisis management and can help connect you to the behavioral health resources right for you. They’re only a call away with the number on your member ID card. You can also visit MindfulBlueKC.com for more information.