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The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  987 ratings  ·  108 reviews
Do you overthink before taking action? Are you prone to making negative predictions? Do you worry about the worst that could happen? Do you take negative feedback very hard? Are you self-critical? Does anything less than perfect performance feel like failure?

If any of these issues resonate with you, you're probably suffering from some degree of anxiety, and you're not alon
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by TarcherPerigee
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Brandon Baggett Check with your local library. They might have access to a digital lending system.
Understanding Yourself and Your Anxiety

How Anxiety Works

Understanding Yourself and Your Anxiety

How Anxiety Works

Understanding the Multidimensional You

Your Goals

Your Anxiety Toolkit: Overcoming Your Stuck Points

Hesitancy: How to Stop Holding Back from the Things You Want to Do

Rumination: How to Get Your Thinking Unstuck

Paralyzing Perfectionism: How to Stop Getting Derailed by the Wrong Kinds of High Standards

Fear of Feedback and Criticism: How to Work with Your Sensitivity to Feedback

Avoidance: How to Stop Putting Your Head in the Sand About Important Things

Where to Next?

Managing Your Anxiety vs. Living Your Life

Areas Where People Get Tripped Up

Liking Your Natural Self vs. Tolerating Your Natural Self


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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Toni Bernhard
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Self-help books contain a lot of advice, but can be hard to apply to our lives. “The Anxiety Toolkit” is different. It focuses on what we can do, right now, to make our lives better. The book is uniquely interactive: Dr. Boyes doesn’t lecture us; instead, she invites us to participate by taking valuable (and often fun) self-assessment quizzes that help us pinpoint the ways in which we self-sabotage our happiness. Dr. Boyes then discusses practical strategies—backed by sound research—to free ours ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm thinking of purchasing this book so I can refer to it from time to time and make annotations. The book contains 11 chapters, broken up into three parts: Understanding Yourself and Your Anxiety, Overcoming Your Stuck Points, and Where to Next? Each chapter starts out with a mini-quiz so the reader can self-assess how relevant that particular topic will be: rumination, hesitancy, paralyzing perfectionism, etc. The author includes practical CBT exercises to try and references online resources w ...more
Nathan Albright
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge-2019
As someone who has dealt with anxiety for a long time, I find myself deeply interested in reading books about anxiety, and I find in general that most such books come in one of two types.  Either the book comes at anxiety from a particularly cerebral approach (as this one does), or the book comes at it from a pro-Buddhist and New Age approach.  While I must admit that my ideal approach in a book would be neither of these, since the choice is generally between these two I prefer the cerebral appr ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Best for: People with certain types of anxiety (but probably not everyone with anxiety).

In a nutshell: Researcher Boyes shares actionable tips for individuals with anxiety.

Line that sticks with me: “When you’re avoiding something, try identifying the next action you need to take to move forward. Do that action.”

Why I chose it: It looked readable and possible helpful.

Review: Hmm. This book is a very easy read, and it definitely has some useful tips for addressing some of the common challenges tha
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: therapy
This is a useful CBT guide to dealing with anxiety. It's full of practical suggestions to help reframe thinking and would be an excellent start to working with an anxious client. However, this book felt very simple and basic. The suggestions were good starting points, but I feel like most people need a little more than this book had to offer. ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it liked it
It was okay. I feel like a lot of the stuff in here didn't apply to my particular anxiety struggles. I had a hard time relating to this book. Maybe my anxiety disorder is very specific. The books I prefer are the Anxiety and Phobia Workbook and From Panic to Power. ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best self-help books I've read. First, it's down-to-earth and honest. There are no claims that you are going to suddenly become a different person and never feel anxious again. Instead, the aim of the book is to teach strategies for learning to live with the fact that you tend to be anxiety prone, and reduce the ways anxiety might bring you down, or limit you. In fact, Boyes herself admits she's still an anxiety-prone person, and gives many examples of how she uses the strateg ...more
Barbara Markway
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you tend to be a worrier, a perfectionist and are self-critical, this book is for you! Dr. Boyes shares her own experience of being "anxiety-prone" so she knows what's it's like to get stuck in your thoughts. She also brings her years of clinical and research experience to show you how to get unstuck. She shows you how to work with your personality, not fight it. Her writing is down-to-earth and easy to read. There are so many practical tips and strategies, you can dip in and out of the book ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, library, 8, non-fiction
I ended up skim reading this as it had to go back to the library. As is typical for someone with anxiety issues, I kept putting off reading it and I ran out of time.

However, I did check out the chapters that most apply to me, and I think there's some really good, helpful advice in here. I will either borrow it again when it's not so new and no longer has a hold list so I don't have to have it back exactly the moment it is due.

But I'll keep it's advice in mind and keep on working on that anxiety
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Generally I don't find self-help books useful. I picked this one up after noticing it seemed to have some practical advice for issues I'd been seeing creep into my personal and professional life, mainly concerning decision-making. I've read through the book multiple times now, because it turns out that it has a ton of useful information. I like how the book is set up: it starts with diagnosis of a potential issue and guides you toward implementing a helpful solution to that issue. ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Helpful, practical book with exercises that can help you recognize common thinking traps. Also includes plenty of references and recommendations for digging deeper. A good starting point that I will likely revisit often.
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this book for anyone who struggles with anxiety. It gave me insight into my behavior and other people's, along with tools to reduce anxiety and live better. ...more
Olavia Kite
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book helped me to understand certain things about my behavior and thought patterns that were making my life a little bit more difficult. This clarity alone has brought a lot of relief, as I'm now able to break those patterns faster and move on. There's still a long way ahead of me to get better, maybe even overcome my issues completely, but I'm glad I'm finally standing on that road. ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it liked it
The Anxiety Toolkit by Alice Boyes, PhD was a Goodreads giveaway that I won in March and began reading in April finishing it in a day. I have to admit that not only did I enter the giveaway for myself but also for another which I have already shared. So, I was hoping that someone else as well as I could get something from its content. I have pulled a couple things but I am getting ahead of myself. I don't suffer from extreme anxiety or panic attacks anymore but have had my share and figured it w ...more
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would 100% recommend this book. Maybe it could get 4 starts since some chapters are not for everyone and sometimes you can find yourself getting bored. But the chapters I was interested in, kept me fascinated.
So what I loved in this book was the structure.
1. Each chapter starts with a questionnaire and shows you how this chapter can help you in the specific area.
2. It has tons of experiments to practice all the things written in each chapter.
3. The author also narrates some of her personal
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
My friend Caitrin (of podcast fame) sent me an article from Refinery 29 and after checking it out I knew I needed to read this book. I reached out to the publisher, Perigee Books (Publisher’s site), and they generously provided a copy of the book in return for my honest opinion. In addition to the book, there is an amazing free resource at!

Last year I had a panic attack which resulted in a hospital visit when the lingering effects didn’t go away. I was already in therap
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was the first book I have read regarding advice to reduce anxiety, and I thought it was an insightful read! I really enjoyed this book - it was easy to understand and I was eager to keep reading. I gained much insight into general anxiety and ways to overcome anxious thoughts. Lots of practical advice and real-life examples to help you understand. Definitely a great resource to have on hand and refer back to again and again! I am already feeling better as I try to practice these strategies.
Amy Rhoda  Brown
Clear, straightforward descriptions of ways that you might be thinking about stuff the wrong way, and suggestions about how to change your thinking patterns. I've read a million self-help books and there were some new ideas and approaches in here. The writing is current and conversational. Worth a look. ...more
Brandon Baggett
There are some great ways to identify factors in your life that are causing anxiety and some ways to help you cope with those factors. Overall, this is a great beginning resource to use to identify where to dive in further (Boyes even recommends further reading on some issues that cause anxiety).
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
As anxiety was always representing the huge obstacle for me to move forward, this toolkit pushed me off my comfort zone, quickly into experiencing more of life, and more into facing fears, one by one. And for that i'd give it 5stars. The author is pretty intuitive but that's the point. ...more
Nov 27, 2015 marked it as to-read
11/30/15 scanned, looks very good, check out again in Jan. 2016
Straightforward information with suggestions for how you can find out where you land on the anxiety spectrum and what steps you can take to improve your quality of life by decreasing your anxiety.
Jul 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book was surprisingly useful. It's heavily reliant on self-assessments at the start of each chapter, quizzes to determine the aspects most relevant to you, and lots and lots of activities (fill in the blanks, start a list) and experiments. It's one to go through at a slower pace so that you don't race through the chapters without taking time to reflect and try out the different strategies Dr Boyes recommends. It'll be nice to come back to after a while as well.
Most importantly, she finishes
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book doesn't just give advice, it prompts you with quizzes before each chapter and experiments to get you thinking to help you actually apply the tools to your life. I definitely recommend reading with a notebook to write down the parts that you relate to and to make sure you don't forget all of the things you read and think "yeah, I could do that." The information in this book is backed by the author's years of professional work and her own experiences with anxiety-prone thinking. I apprec ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A short and extremely helpful guide to working through anxiety. I read this in a weekend and have since recommended it to every person I know who suffers from some form of anxiety. I loved that each chapter started with questions so I could understand how applicable that particular section was to me. Boyes also uses a lot of examples to showcase how anxiety may present itself in everyday situations (ie. having an open office space can be overwhelming for a highly sensitive person).

This was a goo
Chuy Ruiz
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
Short read. Could help lots of people. I read it as an audiobook while doing other things, so I missed out on some of the things it wanted me to do (make lists, answer quizzes, etc). But good tips nevertheless.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is my anxiety blanket. I generally jump in the shower to wash the nervous sweat off my body and pour through its pages for divine guidance.
Tami Nguyen
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-care
I think this book had a lot of good tips that I will definitely go back to, the only reason that I'm giving it 3 stars is because it was so hard to get through. I knew that it had stuff I should learn about but it was definitely a slog for me to read through and I'm not sure why. It's well written and informative - maybe it just wasn't the right timing for me.

Some little gold nuggets from this books include

Find the goals that are worth the anxiety. This talks about setting goals that are more re
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very practical toolkit. A book that is self aware not all parts are going to be fitting for all audience. It’s a good reference book for worry-prone people.
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“Virtually every version of CBT for anxiety disorders involves working through what’s called an exposure hierarchy. The concept is simple. You make a list of all the situations and behaviors you avoid due to anxiety. You then assign a number to each item on your list based on how anxiety provoking you expect doing the avoided behavior would be. Use numbers from 0 (= not anxiety provoking at all) to 100 (= you would fear having an instant panic attack). For example, attempting to talk to a famous person in your field at a conference might be an 80 on the 0-100 scale.
Sort your list in order, from least to most anxiety provoking. Aim to construct a list that has several avoided actions in each 10-point range. For example, several that fall between 20 and 30, between 30 and 40, and so on, on your anxiety scale. That way, you won’t have any jumps that are too big. Omit things that are anxiety-provoking but wouldn’t actually benefit you (such as eating a fried insect).
Make a plan for how you can work through your hierarchy, starting at the bottom of the list. Where possible, repeat an avoided behavior several times before you move up to the next level. For example, if one of your items is talking to a colleague you find intimidating, do this several times (with the same or different colleagues) before moving on.
When you start doing things you’d usually avoid that are low on your hierarchy, you’ll gain the confidence you need to do the things that are higher up on your list. It’s important you don’t use what are called safety behaviors. Safety behaviors are things people do as an anxiety crutch—for example, wearing their lucky undies when they approach that famous person or excessively rehearsing what they plan to say.
There is a general consensus within psychology that exposure techniques like the one just described are among the most effective ways to reduce problems with anxiety. In clinical settings, people who do exposures get the most out of treatment. Some studies have even shown that just doing exposure can be as effective as therapies that also include extensive work on thoughts. If you want to turbocharge your results, try exposure. If you find it too difficult to do alone, consider working with a therapist.”
“Navigate “This Is Too Hard for Me” Thinking

Anxious perfectionists like to feel very on top of things. When they think, “This is too hard for me,” they often treat it as fact, instead of recognizing it as potentially just another anxiety-induced false alarm. Remember, if you’re anxiety-prone, then by definition your anxiety system is predisposed to false alarms—that is, registering dangers that aren’t there.
Thoughts are just thoughts; the problem is that we accept thoughts as true, and confuse feelings with facts. Part of the reason this happens is memory bias: Your brain will tend to remember events from the past that match your current mood. Because current mood has such a powerful effect on thoughts, consciously trying to recall evidence that you’re skilled and talented probably won’t feel very authentic or convincing when you’re feeling down. If you know this is how your brain works, then you can discount some of the negative thoughts you have when you’re in a deflated mood. Your thoughts will naturally improve when your mood improves. Therefore, regaining confidence is often just a matter of being patient and waiting for a negative or anxious mood to pass.
Experiment: Have there been any times in the past when you’ve had “this is too hard for me” thoughts, those thoughts have been a false alarm, and you’ve managed to do the thing you feared was too hard for you? Identify one example. Your example doesn’t need to be something huge. A small example will do.”
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