Book Review: How to Be Sick by Toni Bernhard

How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill & Their Caregivers by Toni Bernhard needs to be part of your health library. Despite pre-ordering the book before its release last fall it lingered on my “to be read shelf” until after the new year. But once I got started I just couldn’t put it down.

Like a lot of other mindfulness-oriented books, it offers plenty of ideas to get you thinking about your life and your situation in a different way. Unlike so many other books, however, it’s also filled with concrete suggestions for how to change your thinking to alleviate the suffering that so often accompanies illness and pain, including the pain associated with mental health issues. The practices she describes are incredibly relatable because Toni illustrates how she uses the techniques and how they came about.

Toni does a wonderful job introducing the concepts that underlie Buddhism while making it clear that it’s not necessary to identify as Buddhist to use and benefit from the techniques. Despite being a fairly small book, it’s actually a great primer on Buddhism for those who are new to the belief system and want to learn more about it specifically in the context of their health challenges and concerns.

To me this is the best kind of book because it’s incredibly enjoyable to read straight through and continues to be helpful for a long time after because you can return to it when you’re struggling and need some inspiration to tweak your approach to a difficult situation. This book brought together all the teaching I’ve been exposed to and helped the concepts click for me for the first time. I know I’m going to be returning to this over & over again as I have those “I can’t cope” moments and need to remind myself of how I can manage those thoughts and fears.

You can learn more about Toni and her book at her website, How to Be Sick.

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain, and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.