The Bookworm Sez: “Freeing Yourself from Anxiety” by Tamar E. Chansky, PhD

Freeing Yourself from Anxiety“Freeing Yourself from Anxiety” by Tamar E. Chansky, PhD

c.2012, Da Capo LifeLong Books       $16.00 / $18.00 Canada             306 pages

You barely got a wink of sleep last night.

It started when the boss, on her way out the door, said she needed to meet with you. It gnawed at you all evening because that can’t be good. Surely, you’re gonna get fired. You don’t have much savings; how will you pay the bills?  Oh, no. You’ll lose the house, the car, your clothes…  What’ll you do?

You’d tell yourself not to worry, but worrying is what you do best. Maybe, instead, you should read Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: The 4-Step Plan to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Wantir?t=smorga 20&l=as2&o=1&a=0738214833 by Tamar E. Chansky, PhD., which might help you get off the worry-go-round.

But first, go ahead: blame everything on your brain.

Eons ago, when your ancestors were being chased by saber-toothed tigers, worry was a good thing. It was so good that human brains have evolved with a small area called the amygdala, which can keep us anxious and hyper-aware. It saved your ancestor’s hide but in today’s world, your amygdala might tend to work overtime.

To free yourself from amygdala-induced, constant worry, Chansky says that there are four basic steps you can take.

Understand that the first thought is the worst thought, so stop and re-label the anxiety. Your worry, realistically, is just your overactive brain signaling a fear of something that probably won’t happen. Separate facts from feelings and take a deep breath.

Know what’s bothering you and get specific. Not “everything” is wrong so what, exactly, is nagging you?  Be sure that it’s not just the power of suggestion.

Examine how you’re seeing the issue. Are there other ways of looking at the problem?  Could there be facets you haven’t considered? Now remove the exclamation points from your thoughts, sleep on it, and remember that merely thinking about something bad isn’t going to make it happen.

Then, “get unstuck” and mobilize. Stay in the present, add the word “some” into your thinking, dial your expectations down to reality, and nudge your brain in a different direction. And if all else fails, understand that there are times when you just need to accept and let things go.

Tired of sinkin’ into stinkin’ thinkin’?  Then “Freeing Yourself from Anxiety” can help change your worrywart tendencies, but…

Author and psychologist Tamar E. Chansky packs hundreds of suggestions into this pleasantly plump paperback, and if one of the ideas doesn’t work, surely something else will. Chansky hits her readers with so much information, in fact, that it might be easy to become overwhelmed.

And that’s where the “but” comes in: you’d best give yourself a lot of time with this book because there’s a lot of book to read here. Chansky covers anxiety, jealousy, stress, anger, shame, gratitude, and more. That’s a good amount of ground to cover, which may make some readers a little…uh, anxious.

Still, even baby steps are forward movement, and “Freeing Yourself from Anxiety” can only get you pointed in the right direction. Just give yourself some time with this book and you’ll get the shove you need. No worries.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books. For more information, visit


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