My Favorite Book for Managing Anxiety

09.02.2020 — Ashley

I want to be honest I’m not a huge book reader. I don’t know why, but growing up I could never get into reading books unless it was an autobiography. Maybe it’s because I read so many scripts for work that I just never had the time for recreational reading—that was the majority of reading I got to do. Well, that changed when I hit my all-time low in my anxiety and depression.

I actually had read a book referred to by a friend about being present. However, the problem was I became too present and realized how much anxiety I was actually living with each and every single day. So I knew I needed to read something else to help me get through that rough patch I was facing. I had taken over my company, Illuminate, and I’m sure everyone could understand how stressful that was. At that moment I realized that if I wanted to feel a real change, I had to face my anxiety.

I came across Lucinda Bassett’s  Attacking Anxiety and Depression. It’s a three and a half month workbook, and each week works through a different subject or symptom of anxiety and depression. It’s not just a workbook though! You listen to CDs ( break out your CD drive!) and do regular assessments, aka homework, in your notebook. I suffered for two years with anxiety after becoming hyper-aware of it and I just knew something needed to change within myself in order to feel my best. Honestly, after doing the work in this book, I was finally confident enough to get back to work and I headed right to the studio.

“At that moment I realized that if I wanted to feel a real change, I had to face my anxiety.”

I cowrote my album Symptoms, which chronicled my journey with mental health in the most candid way. I became more authentic and honest as a person and I genuinely believe that my work showed that. I didn’t realize that stress, fear of failure, and perfectionism were all a part of this. I then went through another stressful event of losing my little Maui—RIP. I truly believe this book helped me prepare for that really sad time in my life. If I didn’t have these tools, I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through the pain of losing Maui.

Of course, seeing a therapist was helpful as well, but I really liked that I could do this on my own and felt like it only helped me in the long run! I highly recommend this to anyone who might be living with anxiety and depression on a daily basis. In fact, I’m reading this book for a second time because I noticed that during the beginning of quarantine I was definitely a bit anxious, and with all of the world events going on I needed something to help ground me.  Apart from reading this book, I wanted to share some quick tips that help me get through a panic attack whenever I experience one. I hope this helps you or someone you know with anxiety!

  1. ACCEPT: Float, don’t fight.
  2. PERMISSION: Tell yourself, “I know what this is”.
  3. BREATHE – Practice mindful breathing by inhaling for two counts, and exhaling for four. 
  4. INNER DIALOGUE – Only speak positive and comforting words to yourself.
  5. DISTRACT – Take action. Distract yourself mentally and physically for at least 15 minutes. 
  6. LET TIME PASS – Remind yourself that discomfort always passes.

At the end of the day, you need to remind yourself that you’re not alone when it comes to anxiety. Books and therapy are great resources, but it all starts with you. It’s okay not to feel okay all of the time, and I hope that this helps you when you’re not feeling like yourself.