My Anxiety Handbook is an anxiety ‘survival guide’ for young people aged 12-18. Co-authored by psychologists and a young person with anxiety, it looks at the causes of anxiety and offers exercises to reduce the reader’s anxiety. The book includes chapters on sleep, exams and changes. Jessica, an Anxiety UK Participation Group volunteer, writes about her experience of reading the book.
Anxiety is something I battled often throughout my teen years, and at the age of 20 I still encounter anxious thoughts and feelings. Now, as an undergraduate of Psychology, I have both a personal and a professional interest in understanding and managing it.
This book provides an easily accessible, logically broken-down guide to help teenagers understand, appreciate and live with anxiety. I particularly like how it has been structured, the flow of the chapters means it is enjoyable to read and makes turning back to key points easy – it is not just a onetime read, but a potential long-term source of reassurance. All the key questions regarding anxiety – what it feels like, why it occurs, how it can be helped, is it a ‘problem’ – are addressed in a friendly, yet clear way.
My favourite parts of the book are Chapters 2 and 4, ‘Understanding where my anxiety comes from’ and ‘Tackling anxious thoughts’. Understanding anxiety is crucial to containing its impact upon your life; it is this understanding that helps make the feeling less daunting, and in turn this decreases anxiety. Chapter 2 is refined, yet distinctive in addressing this. The language used is simple, but not patronising – for teenagers to understand and relate to.
From personal experience, anxious thoughts are one of the scariest aspects underpinning the overall experience of anxiety, so knowing how to isolate and evaluate them makes life a lot more enjoyable – Chapter 4 in particular does well to both explain and help with the negativity teenagers may experience. Nowadays with advancing technology and media, young people are often exposed to more stimuli with the potential to trigger negative and anxious thoughts. Now more than ever they need support in overcoming this.
Overall, the best element of the book is that it acknowledges the positives of anxiety; something not many people pay heed to, for it is not all doom and gloom as some may have you think. Having had fluctuating anxiety for years, I can assure you that learning to critique and analyse your own thoughts and feelings is a skill. Many may not feel the need to master it, but anxiety helps teach you otherwise.
One drawback of the guide is that I think the visual appearance of it may be slightly unsuitable. The colour is bold and cheery, which is appealing, but as a result it stands out and draws attention. With the title in a large bold font, some teenagers may find this an embarrassing and sensitive ‘issue’ – so a more discrete appearance may be more appropriate.
Overall, I feel this book provides exactly what the title states, it is a convenient and practical guide to assist teenagers with anxiety. I would recommend this guide to young people, who feel they fall under this category, but also the people close to them (parents, teachers and so on) to provide them with an understanding and appreciation.
Rating this book, I would give it a 4.5/5.
Jess is a 20 year-old psychology undergraduate with The Open University. She is fascinated by psychology and loves doing further reading and engaging in volunteering work alongside. She loves going to the gym and keeping in shape, saying “It’s a lovely outlet for the stresses of life and a wonderful confidence booster.”