Book Review: ‘The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety’

Anxiety is a common problem, affecting over 18 percent of Americans, and you’ve got several treatment options if you’re one of them. Therapy, medication, or a combination of the two work for severe cases, but you’ve got many self-help book choices, like The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety, if you want to tackle the problem on your own.

A Complete Package

The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety by John P. Forsyth, PhD and Georg H. Eifert, PhD is, as its name implies, an interactive experience rather than just a dry read. In addition to workbook exercises and assessments, it includes a CD of guided mindfulness meditations to help you keep using the principles it teaches you. If you prefer an ebook, the meditations are available online.

The book presents material in a logical order, starting off with the challenges of controlling your anxiety and going into the reasons that mindfulness, willingness, and acceptance are a big help. It’s broken down into three sections: Preparing the Way for Something New, Starting a New Journey, and Reclaiming Your Life and Living It. The first part gets you ready for change, the second gets you started, and the third tells you what to do and how to maintain your progress.

Logical Sequence

At first, the book might seem daunting, but the authors help readers feel at ease with a comprehensive section on how to use it. You’ll find information on prioritizing your life to make time for the reading, pacing yourself, and being patient as you work through the plan. The authors themselves point out that at times the information might seem repetitive and that it’s by design. They use repetition to drive home the most critical information.

While The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety works as a first tier approach for those who hope to manage their own anxiety, it’s also an option for people who weren’t successful with traditional therapy. The authors point out that the standard approach, cognitive behavioral therapy, doesn’t always have lasting effects when it’s used to treat anxiety. The book uses Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a somewhat different approach that teaches you to view your anxiety as a natural part of life rather than fighting it. Instead, you learn to let it happen without allowing it to control your life.

Three-Step Approach

The authors summarize their approach in three main steps: accept, choose, and take action. Accepting your anxiety doesn’t make you helpless. It puts you in a position to choose your approach in the context of your overall life goals and priorities. You don’t have to take a passive approach. Rather, you can decide on the best course of action.

The techniques in this workbook might feel uncomfortable if you’re a take-control kind of person. Mindfulness and acceptance feel strange at first if you’re used to taking charge of most things in life and want to handle your anxiety in that same way. Unfortunately, the take-charge approach often fails when anxiety takes over, so you may find that the workbook gives you a more effective alternative when other strategies fail.

Be Willing to Work

No book is a magic wand to instantly erase your problems. Like other self-help tomes, The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety can only help if you’re willing to read it all the way through and make a genuine attempt at following the plan. It’s not the sort of plan you can dabble in; you have to use the techniques consistently.

If you’re willing to put in the work, this book is a great tool for tackling your anxiety in a mindfulness-based way. You don’t have to get rid of it. If you learn to accept it, you can co-exist with the anxious feelings and keep them from ruling your life.