An excellent, comprehensive overview of anxiety!

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kitcatgirl2006 Avatar


**Many thanks to BookishFirst, DK, and Dr. Tracey Marks for an ARC of this book!**

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."-William James

This quick nonfiction read from Dr. Tracey Marks manages to balance science and psychological background AND a toolkit of tips and tricks to help manage anxiety...all in one sitting!

The book itself is split into two parts: the first part dives into the origins and biology of anxiety and more importantly, gives a brief primer on many associated syndromes. Everything from agoraphobia to social anxiety to PTSD is covered here, and whether you are a student of psychology or not, I'd be surprised if you didn't learn something! The OCD section is particularly enlightening, as OCD is often represented in movies and TV as behaviors like chewing food a certain number of times or being a germaphobe, for example, rather than a wide range of behaviors, which include hoarding and trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder). I was very surprised to see how many of these behaviors I recognized in those I know, and those I know to be anxious and how all of this intertwines. Luckily, Marks never gets TOO wordy or scientific, so you don't have to be an aspiring therapist or social worker to keep up!

Part two is probably what is the greater draw of this book: the tools to help you actually COMBAT anxiety. Marks helpfully divides this section a bit further, just so you can pinpoint methods of interest. The first chapter deals with 'alternative' treatments, including acupuncture, hypnotism and the like, but after this she moves into a specific discussion of medications. I thought this was particularly interesting, since she doesn't shy away from discussing side effects, and how severe certain symptoms of anxiety should be (with fairly concrete examples) before considering medication as treatment. Of course, this all precedes specific conversations between you and your care provider, but it's nice to know the ins and outs to help inform those conversations, if it's something you are considering.

The next two treatment sections discuss dealing with the mind tools (meditation, journaling, etc.) body tools (activating the vagus nerve, yoga, and breathing techniques to name a few) and behavioral techniques, such as laughter and graded exposure. Have you heard of some of these techniques and maybe even had experience with them? Probably, especially if you've ever been in counseling or read other similar self-help books, listened to audiobooks or lectures, or watched videos exploring these topics.

So how does this book differ from what is already out there?

Marks' special sauce (so to speak) are some of the specific suggestions she gives that I haven't necessarily seen in other places. For example, she delves into aromatherapy (which isn't always discussed but is CERTAINLY helpful!) and even gives recipes for essential oil blends that you can make at home. Her discussion of resonant breathing was also fascinating and taught me SO much! Will you use every technique you read about? I'm pretty sure you will not (and hopefully would not need to!) but having ALL of these different options, the background, and the pros and cons gives you so many options to choose from and a starting point when the world seems so overwhelming with advice already. There are also some helpful appendices in the back to reference as a 'quick guide' when using different techniques and also spots to keep track of your progress, although I would recommend a notebook for more space to document your journey.

This book is like taking a crash course in anxiety without the 'textbook' feel and for those who might not have access to a therapist, is a fabulous place to start: truly the perfect blend of science and self-help!