How to Make the Most of Anxiety Self Help Books
Tips on using anxiety self help books might be scarce, but the workbooks themselves are not. If you’ve stepped inside a bookstore lately, you’ve probably noticed a proliferation of self-help titles.
The list of things you can improve about yourself is literally endless—and it can be hard to know who to trust or whether any of these books will actually help. That’s where tips on using anxiety self help books come in.
In the case of social anxiety, self-help books hold a special significance, as they can be accessed by anyone regardless of your current fears. If you’re too afraid to pick up the phone to call your doctor, ordering a book from Amazon might feel like a smaller first step that you can take.
At the same time, there is a risk with anxiety self-help books that you expect too much. A book is never going to replace interaction with a mental health professional. What it will do is provide knowledge upon which you can act.
A study published in 2008 in the journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice examined 50 depression and anxiety self-help books and rated books on four main qualities that were believed to reflect books that would help:
- they were grounded in science, brings the knowledge of experts to you (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy)
- they were realistic in their expectations (not promising a complete cure)
- they offered specific guidance (step-by-step instructions, user-friendly)
- they did no harm (did not provide false information)
What they found was that the best books (based on their criteria) had the following characteristics in addition to those listed above:
- they were focused on a limited type of problem
- they were written by doctoral-level psychologists, often affiliated with academic institutions
- they offered a chance to monitor your progress
- they addressed relapse or setbacks
- they discussed co-existing disorders or problems
- they talked about when to seek professional help
Although that study touched on it briefly, another important quality of a good anxiety self-help book is that it is not overwhelming.
We are all busy, and it is often easier to keep doing what we are doing than to try to make a change. While anxiety self-help books are more convenient than visiting a therapist or life coach, if they are not put into practice, they are likely to have minimal effect. You need to apply the advice in the book to make progress.
Because of this, we can consider two “bad” qualities of an anxiety self-help book:
1. Those that give too much information
2. Those that provide no plan
When choosing a book, after you’ve narrowed it down to those that meet the above criteria, try skimming through (in a bookstore or online) and choose the one that is easiest to read with the best action plan. Also, choose a book that you find inspiring.
Once you’ve chosen a book, how can you get the most out of it?
Tips on Using Anxiety Self-Help Books
- Keep a journal. Add your own thoughts and insights. This will bring the book to life for you.
- Complete the exercises. This might seem obvious, but don’t jump ahead. Take the time to do any exercises in the book fully. Change involves thoughts, feelings, and actions all interacting. You might learn new things about yourself that you can use as you move forward in the book.
- Take stock. At the end of each chapter or section, take stock and think about the impact of what you’ve done. Do you need to adjust or make changes?
- Get an accountability partner. This could be a friend or family member, or even an online group. Meet once a week to discuss what you are reading. If you find it hard, be accountable and then reward yourself in some way for taking action. If you find it really hard, find a therapist to help you work through the book.