Book Review: ‘The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points’

Anxiety feels unpleasant, and the worst part is usually the disorder’s symptoms – like worry, fear and self-criticism – that interfere with a fulfilling life. The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points, by Alice Boyes, PhD, teaches you to manage those symptoms and get back to living.

As author Alice Boyle points out, the aim isn’t to rid yourself of anxiety completely. All emotions, including anxiety, play an important role. Instead, her toolkit is all about teaching you strategies to get yourself unstuck and manage the negative effects.

Three-Pronged Approach

Boyle organizes the book into three logically ordered sections: Understanding Yourself and Your Anxiety, Your Anxiety Toolkit: Overcoming Your Stuck Points, and Where to Next. In the first part, she explains how anxiety works, both in general and in its effects on people. The second part plunges you into an action plan that tackles specific problems caused by anxiety. For example, you’ll look at things like rumination, hesitancy, fear of criticism, and avoidance. The book gives practice suggestions on how to overcome all of those anxiety-related issues. The last part helps you create your long-term plan to make sure anxiety won’t take over again.

Real-Life Examples

The book is easy to relate to because it incorporates real-life examples taken from Boyle’s work. She uses real client’s stories, which she alters for the sake of privacy, to illustrate and clarify the book’s material. She also uses checklists and tables to clearly call out information and help you see how anxiety affects you personally.

One of the strengths of The Anxiety Toolkit is that it takes a realistic approach. It doesn’t claim that it will solve your problems and leave you in an upbeat state. Instead, it clearly explains that you’re going to learn to manage your anxiety. You won’t completely erase it; rather, you’ll put it in the proper place in your life instead of letting it control you.

A Custom Plan

Boyle says that she expects her readers to adapt the book’s strategies to their own lifestyles. Instead of following a strict one-size-fits-all plan, it gives readers techniques they can easily adapt in ways that work for them. Like many self-help books on anxiety, stress, and other topics, it incorporates techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy and puts them in a format that you can use at home instead of having to visit a therapist.

The book is somewhat heavy on anxiety in the workplace, and it doesn’t delve very deeply into more severe types of anxiety disorders. If you have severe anxiety problems, you’ll likely need more help than the book alone can deliver. In that case, counseling or medication may be more appropriate options. However, if you suffer from mild to moderate anxiety, you’ll probably find some good information in the toolkit that applies to your personal situation.

The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points is a good introduction to a cognitive behavioral approach for anxiety management. If you relate to the examples and are willing to try out Boyle’s techniques, you’ll develop your own personal toolkit for keeping the worst of anxiety at bay.