Christmas tension mounting? Here’s a book that will help without mentioning turkeys or stuffing (although family does crop up quite often))
Think of Making Friends with Anxiety as an early Christmas present to yourself. Written by international bestselling author Sarah Rayner, it oozes compassion without a hint of patronising superiority or wooly waffle. I don’t like most self-help books. I’ve read a lot of bad ones in my time as part of a job I once did and I was most likely to throw against the wall those that revealed the blindingly obvious and gave teeth-grinding instructions such as fill your mind with pleasant thoughts, full stop. Of course! Now you’ve told me…
This one is different. It is written by someone who knows how to express difficult emotions and is drawing on her own experience of anxiety. She knows how it impacts on everyday life, how it can stop you from going to work and makes you shy away from situations you fear so increasing your inner turmoil because you’ve never discovered how to deal with moths or goodbyes or whatever it is that disturbs you. Sarah has had therapy herself and explains what you can expect from it if you go down that road. For example this is how she tackles the think pleasant thoughts syndrome:
Until I learned about MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy) I’d assumed there was nothing I could do to change my thinking (let alone my emotions); I believed that my thought controlled me, rather than the other way round
She then goes explains how she changed from being a Goth who would wear any colour as long as it was black to a woman who could dress in bottle green and brown with confidence because she knew that they suited her. Criticism was harder to take though.
As I write novels for a living, it comes with the professional terrain.… In the past 1*reviews of my novels have been known to make me weep. From one review it’s astonishing what I could extrapolate: the novel was awful; I was a dreadful writer, I always had been and always would be; everyone who was nice about the novel in other reviews was in fact lying; I would never write anything again, let alone anything good…
She finishes with a practical exercise that helped her overcome the self-destructive spiral of thoughts and could help anyone facing a similar problem.
There’s a lot of Sarah in this book. She uses her own life to show that you’re not alone, you are not the only one who feels like this. She brought it out just after Another Night, Another Day was published, a novel about three people seeking professional help for the challenges they were facing: bereavement, bankruptcy and being a lone parent with a disabled child. Although Sarah has sold hundreds of thousands of books (yes, literally) through traditional publishing she chose to self-publish Making Friends with Anxiety because she wanted to bring a very personal approach the subject… The result is a warm and supportive book that offers strategies that could help most of us at different times in our lives. Full disclosure – I know Sarah and am thrilled to find my name on the list of acknowledgements at the back for a very tiny amount of advice on how to publish through Amazon.
To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have read this book if I didn’t already know Sarah – all those memories of dire self-help books coming to the surface. But that would have been my loss and I am so glad that I’ve had the chance to read something so positive and practical.
This week the Kindle version is half price at just 99p and you don’t even need a Kindle to read it… Amazon have a free app that will allow you to read it on any computer, tablet or smartphone. It’s just what Santa Claus would bring in his sack if he was making an early delivery.