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Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind Hardcover – Illustrated, March 9, 2021
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A step-by-step plan clinically proven to break the cycle of worry and fear that drives anxiety and addictive habits
We are living through one of the most anxious periods any of us can remember. Whether facing issues as public as a pandemic or as personal as having kids at home and fighting the urge to reach for the wine bottle every night, we are feeling overwhelmed and out of control. But in this timely book, Judson Brewer explains how to uproot anxiety at its source using brain-based techniques and small hacks accessible to anyone.
We think of anxiety as everything from mild unease to full-blown panic. But it's also what drives the addictive behaviors and bad habits we use to cope (e.g. stress eating, procrastination, doom scrolling and social media). Plus, anxiety lives in a part of the brain that resists rational thought. So we get stuck in anxiety habit loops that we can't think our way out of or use willpower to overcome. Dr. Brewer teaches us to map our brains to discover our triggers, defuse them with the simple but powerful practice of curiosity, and to train our brains using mindfulness and other practices that his lab has proven can work.
Distilling more than 20 years of research and hands-on work with thousands of patients, including Olympic athletes and coaches, and leaders in government and business, Dr. Brewer has created a clear, solution-oriented program that anyone can use to feel better - no matter how anxious they feel.
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From the Publisher
—BJ Fogg, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Tiny Habits
"Unwinding Anxiety provides a step-by-step guide to Judson Brewer’s personally designed, clinically proven path that can alleviate your mind from anxiety, obsessive thinking, addiction, and more. It guides your brain to rewire in helpful ways as it inspires your mind to understand it’s inner processes more deeply and to live with more freedom, gratitude, interpersonal connection, and joy."
—Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of Aware
"You cannot thrive if you’re perpetually anxious. It’s that simple. Jud Brewer has given us a plan that can help us overcome our anxious thoughts, feelings and habits to create true well-being. It is absolutely game-changing."
—Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global
"Grounded in the best of current science and totally user friendly, Unwinding Anxiety reveals how a powerful set of mindfulness tools can free us from the worry that rules our lives. This is the most helpful and informative book on anxiety I’ve read!"
—Tara Brach, Ph.D , author of Radical Acceptance
"In a world that can be overwhelming, Jud Brewer has created a plan to stop the overwhelm. He shows us accessible ways to stop worry in its tracks and mindfulness techniques that can redirect our energy in positive, healing ways. It’s exactly what we need right now."
—US Representative Tim Ryan, Ohio
"An incredibly relatable and practical guide to anxiety. Judson Brewer's research has contributed greatly to our understanding of why anxiety is so hard to shake. This book gives us the tools to break free. Anxiety is at the root of so many of the habits we want to change. Unwinding Anxiety will not only help you deal with anxiety, but will also help you find freedom from the behaviors that hold you back."
—Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author of The Joy of Movement
"Brewer weaves together science from his lab and stories from his clinic to expertly illustrate how anxiety develops, becomes a habit loop, and why our anti-anxiety strategies continue to fail us. Unwinding Anxiety provides actionable steps that you can implement into your own life to stop this cycle. Compellingly written, this compassionate book is full of insights that couldn’t have come at a better time."
—Jewel, New York Times bestselling author of Never Broken
"This may be the only book on anxiety you’ll ever need. Drawing on his lab’s latest neuroscience and clinically proven techniques, Dr. Brewer ingeniously reveals why anxiety loops are so hard to break. Showing clearly how and why worry is so addictive, he guides you how to shift through the gears to break the old habits that keep anxiety going, and to unwind the rope that’s been coiled around your life. With new insights on every page, this is evidence-based psychological science at its best."
—Mark Williams, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Oxford, UK, Co-author of Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World
"In Unwinding Anxiety neuroscientist Judson Brewer offers a brilliant breakthrough, brain-based methods for lessening our anxiety-driven habits. And anxiety, after all, is the common cold of our emotional life."
—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
"Judson Brewer has written a relatable, introspective guide to overcoming anxiety. Backed by research and experience Unwinding Anxiety is an exploration on how anxiety grows in our brains and offers a key to unwinding those habitual thought patterns. Much more than relaying research and science, this book offers user-friendly, practical steps to the possibility of managing worry!"
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Change
"A helpful guide...These evidence-based, structured recommendations will be useful to anyone who feels caught in a negative loop."
About the Author
- Publisher : Avery (March 9, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0593330447
- ISBN-13 : 978-0593330449
- Item Weight : 1.06 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.3 x 1.05 x 9.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #17,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #49 in Emotional Mental Health
- #51 in Anxieties & Phobias
- #61 in Anxiety Disorders (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on March 22, 2021
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Top reviews from the United States
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So, I have understood and naturally implement much of the general gist of the book. I am remembering back to not very long ago when I was walking around the bookstore and looking for a book to help with anxiety. I feel so much better now. I do have little bouts of anxiety and for whatever reason (i.e. using whichever ideas/practices in this book that I now use) I relatively quickly manage to let that anxiety go and then I feel nice and good, and can go back to everyday life.
I definitely would love to go back through the audiobook and kindle book (bought both) again in the future for a deeper round of learning. There are a lot of good practices and ideas in there which I skimmed on my first round through. That said, I don't feel like a humongous need to go deeper, at least not right now...I have a lot more energy and attention to spend on other life endeavors...
All of this said, caveats I would share...I hadn't felt anxiety forever. I have experienced depression more often in the past. I also found over the years that various symptoms I had matched up to trauma, or Complex PTSD (not an official US diagnosis, but recognized in other places, and is definitely "a real thing" per my experience and reading). I had done enough "therapy that works with trauma symptoms" and done enough healing with that, and then over time was feeling a lot of anxiety for a while. This idea from polyvagal theory suggests that "the freeze response" can "lock down" your feelings of anxiety, and as the freeze response comes up, you are going to feel more of that anxiety from the past. Or that's how I understand it. In any case...for me, this book has helped let go of these anxiety loops, or whatever.
Highly recommend for anyone experiencing anxiety, short-term or long-term; of course I only have used it based on my past and life experience, so I can only guarantee that it worked for me! :)
[First update, after initial review -- 3-4 days after getting the book, about 67% through it, raising from 2 up to 4 stars]
[initial title: Not clear to me that this book is really about ANXIETY... (updated, 2x)]
So, as I wrote this update, I was initially updating from 2 to 3 stars, but after I finished writing this update, I'm now updating to 4 stars. I suspect that I may come back to this in the next month, after more time with the book, and eventually update to 5 stars!
From earlier part of my review, I said he hypothesized [anxiety is actually caused by different "habits" you have] -- I did review the chapter where he made this case, and I understood this a bit more deeply, and was better convinced. And funny enough, I already forgot the rationale, but it made sense to me, I trusted it, and then tried "doing the work" a bit more...
And...as for the "doing the work" I began to see some habit/pattern I do that seems VERY LIKELY CONNECTED TO ANXIETY... Its a habit I've had for a while. And it goes something like this. TRIGGER: "Something happens and I feel some discomfort in my body" -- BEHAVIOR: "I either 'know how to fix the external problem that caused my discomfort' or 'have an idea of which book I should read to fix the external problem that caused my discomfort' and I immediately jump into action to fix or figure out the problem!" -- RESULT: "I might actually fix the 'problem', or I learn some stuff about how to have a better chance of fixing the 'problem' in the future, and I become more certain that 'I know how to fix things in general'"
And so...the self-perpetuating problem was that I kept trying to fix 'external problems' -- what I've noticed as I've begun trying to do what this book is talking about doing...is that I may be better able to tolerate "letting little things go" to a greater degree. Like...these are REALLY small things, here is a small example...
At the bookstore today, some employee told a lady there that she was not allowed to take pictures with her phone of the inside pages of a book, saying something about "copyright laws." Seems reasonable enough, but I felt a bit skeptical. My thought process went like this: "Hold on...is this guy saying that if I buy a book and take a picture of a page with my phone at home, then I'm breaking the law? If that's true...maybe I'd believe that...but is this guy going to be in my home to enforce the copyright law? No...so why does he believe he can enforce the law in the bookstore..." I mean...to be clear, I do find these questions to be super interesting questions to answer! And I initially thought I would google the answer(s) to these questions on my phone, out of curiosity... BUT, at the end of the day...did the answers to those questions matter? They sort of do...for curiosities sake, and understanding laws can help my future business and career success... But they aren't questions I needed the answer to.
And...if I WERE to google the question to that answer, I would have been perpetuating a cycle where "I feel discomfort...THEN I do something to alleviate that discomfort...THEN I might feel better..." and in the end that cycle keeps going, forever...every time I disagree with someone, I HAVE to look it up...and then I feel better. But the whole point of this book is to just...stop perpetuating the cycle. (Or that's how its looking to me!)
[Initial review, wrote the first part of this 1-2 days after getting the book, and about 50% through the book -- initially rated as 2 stars]
His "hypothesis" (not calling it a "theory" since I don't see the evidence to support this) seems to be:
- anxiety is actually caused by different "habits" you have
- if you map you your habit loops
- and if you just feel/sense what happens in your body in these loops (what he calls "2nd gear" I think)
- then you will eventually feel better
- I'm not clear whether or not I trust these claims
- this "2nd gear" thing...just makes me want to lay down and be a zombie all the time (i.e. what I believe is "the freeze response" in trauma lingo). its unclear whether he's saying "oh just lay down in a freeze state forever and then your anxiety will eventually go away..."
in teh end, as others have said, this book seems to be about HABITS not ANXIETY...
I will say that there are parts that may seem inapplicable when it talks about breaking certain habits however stick with it and know that this book really gets better the further into you get, especially as it comes to its final part 3. Some of the revelations in this book were so powerful I couldn’t help but giggle with excitement as I read them.
To get the most out of this book, I treated it as a course and became a student of the material. Took notes, compiled the pieces that were most applicable to me and created paraphrases and narratives that were meaningful to me that I could more easily remember and recall throughout the day and during meditation as needed.
Top reviews from other countries
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on May 5, 2021
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on April 10, 2021