Overthinking, ruminating, worrying: bestselling author Gwendoline Smith explains this common form of anxiety and offers helpful advice for overcoming it.
Overthinking is also known as worrying or ruminating and it’s a form of anxiety that many people suffer from.
Psychologist and bestselling author Gwendoline Smith explains in clear and simple language the concepts of positive and negative overthinking, the truth about worry and how to deal with the ‘thought viruses’ that are holding you back.
She helps you understand what’s going on in your head, using humour, lots of examples and anecdotes, and she offers powerful strategies for addressing your issues.
Based on cognitive behavioural theory, this book will help you in all the key areas of your life: from your personal life to relationships and work.
The Book of Overthinking by Gwendoline Smith is a guide to worrying less — an instruction manual for those who are anxious and stressed, and who are looking for ways to calm their thoughts.
Filled with information, advice, exercises, and even homework, at the very least this book will make you feel like you’re not alone — like there are other people who worry as much as you do, and there are ways you can manipulate your mind to stop stressing so much.
Gwendoline fills the pages with plenty of modern day examples, so that even the most confused reader can understand the messages and advice in the book.
“Let’s take a look at negative overthinking. Studies show that getting stuck in your head, focusing on negative events (and therefore experiencing feelings of regret, self-blame), can be the biggest predictor of some of todays’ most common mental-health problems, such as anxiety and depression.”
The beginnings of the book are dedicated to how overthinking can have an impact on our physical and mental state — our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our relationships. Evidently, there is a strong connection between overthinking and anxiety, and also overthinking and depression.
There will be some moments where you recognise yourself in Gwendoline’s descriptions, and it can be a sobering moment. It’ll make you feel like picking up the book was the right decision.
Gwendoline has a really warm, inviting ‘voice’ in the book. Her language is easy to understand, and readers will find comfort in how she explains concepts and terminology.
The ‘homework’ in the book is structured like a therapy session — “It’s just you, me and the whiteboard” — and Gwendoline asks readers to reflect on what they’ve been worrying about. There are sections of the book where you’re encourage to write down your emotions and feelings, in an effort to confront your worrisome state of mind. This helps build a connection with the reader, and allows them to examine their own behaviour in a non-confronting manner.
“Look back on the worst situation you have ever been through in your life. You may have lost a parent, had a nasty divorce, lost your job. You are still here, so I’m guessing you got through it OK. It would appear that thinking based in truth could go more like this: ‘This isn’t great, but I’ve been through worse and made it to the other side.’”
Gwendoline acknowledges that there is a certain level of worrying that is healthy. If you’re a parent, for example, there are going to be moments when worrying about your family is natural. But it’s about understanding when that worrying tips over into the unhealthy, negative space.
I found the diagrams and accompanying visuals to be just as helpful as Gwendoline’s words. I’m a visual learner, so the charts or drawings really helped me understand how worrisome overthinking can be both understood, and confronted.
For any reader who feels overwhelmed by the content in the book, there is an appendix at the back with a lot of summary information, and there are summaries scattered throughout the book which will help ease readers as well.
“With endless overthinking the brain becomes hyper-vigilant, constantly on the lookout for anything it perceives to be dangerous or worrisome. This creates a state of living in fear and agitation.”
Truthfully, I read a lot of these books and I have yet to come across one that I really feel solves the problem. I’m not sure that any book — or multiple books — have the power to really stop a worrier from worrying all the time. I think it’s just important for people who are anxious and stressed to have these kinds of books on their shelves so they can pull them out in a moment of need.
I’m not sure that the homework in the book is necessary, and not sure how many readers will actually complete it. Instead, they may just follow it through in their minds, which could be just as helpful.
Recommended for the seasoned worrier. A quick read and suitable companion for a bookshelf.
Thank you to the publisher for mailing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Book of Overthinking
Allen & Unwin Publishers