“The Anxiety Toolkit,” by Alice Boyes

“The Anxiety Toolkit,” by Alice Boyes, PhD. Copyright 2015, Penguin Press (232 pages, $16.00).

The Anxiety Toolkit by Alice Boyes, PhD.

I hate to admit this, but I have anxiety, as do a number of us, some more so than others. It hits me when I’m driving, when I’m working, when I’m with people, when I’m writing a book review. Will I be good enough? Will anyone even care? Why can’t everyone just be happy all that time? It’s probably not that serious.

The Anxiety Toolkit by Alice Boyes, PhD is a great book to read for those of us who are trying to get an understanding of our own anxiety. There are those of us who have a good grasp on what may cause us to feel anxious, and those of us who have no idea where to even begin. Boyes’ book is a good way to help us begin answering our own questions.

The author begins by easing us into understanding ourselves and anxiety as a whole. Boyes herself does not have an anxiety disorder, but that doesn’t mean she’s not anxiety-prone. In fact, we’re all anxiety-prone. Her stories of growing up and facing her anxieties coincided many times with my own, such as the feeling of nausea one gets before being thrust into any new situation.

There are three parts to Boyes’ book: understanding and determining one’s specific type of anxiety, strategies to unblock that specific anxiety, and how to incorporate those strategies into your life. She focuses on hesitancy, rumination, perfectionism, criticism and avoidance as the core values of anxiety, each of which, I can safely say, has caused me my own forms of angst and panic.

The Anxiety Toolkit is very much interactive. Throughout the book, Boyes has included quizzes to help her readers become more knowledgeable about a number of everyday activities that may cause them their feelings of anxiety. Once those quizzes have been taken and the reader’s anxiety has been targeted, Boyes goes on to give exercises on how to overcome such anxiety.

I very much enjoyed this book. While reading it, I felt the majority of the time I was exclaiming “That’s exactly how I feel!” or “That’s what I say every day!” or even “Yes! I totally lost sleep over that too!” I loved the quizzes. Although I know that there are others who feel the same way I do about certain situations, it’s a comfort to see their experiences explained as well.

What I didn’t particularly care about in The Anxiety Toolkit was learning that some of the things I thought were good for me, were actually bad, such as thinking before I act. In some cases, this is a smart move, but other times, it’s a form of hesitancy. I grew up learning to do this. Now I look back and wonder if some of my anxiety was nurtured out of loving experiences and not just the bad ones.

The Anxiety Toolkit is overall a very good read. Boyes has done copious amounts of research and has kindly put it together for us in a very functional guide using modern examples that her readers can relate to.

Emery Lai is a Library Assistant at Alamance County Public Libraries. She may be reached at elai@alamancelibraries.org or 336-229-3588.