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Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind

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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 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 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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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 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 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.

30 review for Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melrose's

    Information is power As you read the book title it says "how to break the cycles of worry and fear to heal your mind" and you have to know that I tried listening to a lot of podcasts, read self-help books and interact with my peers on the internet about our swirling darkness of depression, anxiety, and impending death. I must say it helped a bit but it didn't last long. It wasn't the solution I was truly looking for. This book dwells in science and relies on facts about how our minds are wired and Information is power As you read the book title it says "how to break the cycles of worry and fear to heal your mind" and you have to know that I tried listening to a lot of podcasts, read self-help books and interact with my peers on the internet about our swirling darkness of depression, anxiety, and impending death. I must say it helped a bit but it didn't last long. It wasn't the solution I was truly looking for. This book dwells in science and relies on facts about how our minds are wired and how it works. It bought clarity to the wonderments I had which were comforting and reassuring. Not only does this book answer our questions but also gives a detailed guide to maneuver or control our mind to reshape or relearn our habitual behaviors concerning anxiety and depression. I hope it gets attention and serves its purpose in helping people who are suffering from anxiety and depression.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Boissonneault

    Anxiety disorders represent the most common group of mental disorders in the US, affecting tens of millions of individuals each year. Since anxiety is so common, and since most of us struggle with it at least in some capacity, virtually everyone can benefit from learning what the latest research tells us about its effective management. In Unwinding Anxiety, Dr. Brewer distills 20 years of research and practice in treating anxiety and addiction into a single volume, providing a simple (but not ne Anxiety disorders represent the most common group of mental disorders in the US, affecting tens of millions of individuals each year. Since anxiety is so common, and since most of us struggle with it at least in some capacity, virtually everyone can benefit from learning what the latest research tells us about its effective management. In Unwinding Anxiety, Dr. Brewer distills 20 years of research and practice in treating anxiety and addiction into a single volume, providing a simple (but not necessarily easy) three-step process for managing anxiety by leveraging the natural learning mechanisms of the brain. The key insight here is the connection between anxiety and habits, and the fact that many of us self-treat our own anxiety by creating habitual behaviors, most of which are detrimental to our health (smoking, drinking, overeating, etc.). The treatment regimen Dr. Brewer recommends for his patients—and that is presented in this book—helps to identify these habit loops and replace them with healthier ones. As the reader will discover, the practice of mindfulness (of which meditation is only one component)—and the ability to face the situations that cause our anxiety with openness and curiosity—is key to anxiety’s effective management. More than just a manual for treating anxiety, this book presents a clear summary of the science behind anxiety and a roadmap to use your brain’s natural reward-based learning mechanisms to break any undesirable habits. Check out my article How to Manage Anxiety by Leveraging the Brain’s Natural Learning Process for an in-depth summary of the key lessons of the book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emilie22

    I found many parts of this book insightful and helpful (and dare I even say enjoyable, thanks to Brewer’s self deprecating humor?). He frames the book by starting off with different examples and levels of anxiety, illustrating what a common and widespread issue this is. The rest of the book is divided into 3 sections: how does your brain work/why fear on some level is “good,” how your brain makes decisions and then lastly, how to update your reward system with a bigger, better offer. Here are som I found many parts of this book insightful and helpful (and dare I even say enjoyable, thanks to Brewer’s self deprecating humor?). He frames the book by starting off with different examples and levels of anxiety, illustrating what a common and widespread issue this is. The rest of the book is divided into 3 sections: how does your brain work/why fear on some level is “good,” how your brain makes decisions and then lastly, how to update your reward system with a bigger, better offer. Here are some of the one liners that I found interesting: -Mindfulness is not about stopping, emptying, or ridding ourselves of anything...mindfulness is about changing our relationship to those thoughts and emotions. -Attitude is everything. Trigger: start to struggle, Behavior: think it will suck (e.g. fixed mindset), Result: increased likelihood of it sucking. -It doesn’t alter what triggers worry or anxiety, but it does matter how you react to it...”why” doesn’t matter. Lastly, I really appreciated his explanation of the book dedication. As for the criticism, it’s pretty universal with “these types” of books. Depending on how many books you read on the topic, this could come across as too “basic” or over simplified.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Magda Krakowiak

    A very well written book about tremendously important topic of anxiety. I would not call it a step-by-step guide, but I found many interesting insights there. The author does great job in explaining how mindfulness and essentially an awareness can help us manage our anxiety. He also greatly emphasizes that it takes time and practice to rewire our brains and create new habit loops, as often worrying is a habit itself. A highly recommended read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Todd Aldrich

    Key insights for me were: 1) everyone suffers from anxiety because we all have unhealthy habits which arise as a stress response to anxiety, which is basically fear of an uncertain future; 2) we have habitual “loops” - trigger, response, and result (reward); 3) mapping our habit loops helps make us mindful of them; 4) if we update our reward values using mindfulness and curiosity, we can replace old with new healthier habits; 5) Will Power Isn’t enough or reliable; 6) use meditation as mindfulne Key insights for me were: 1) everyone suffers from anxiety because we all have unhealthy habits which arise as a stress response to anxiety, which is basically fear of an uncertain future; 2) we have habitual “loops” - trigger, response, and result (reward); 3) mapping our habit loops helps make us mindful of them; 4) if we update our reward values using mindfulness and curiosity, we can replace old with new healthier habits; 5) Will Power Isn’t enough or reliable; 6) use meditation as mindfulness training for the mind; 7) think of the habit change as a BBO - Bigger, Better, Offer.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    If you have the faintest struggle with anxiety, worry, or addiction, now is the time to read this book. I’m in awe of the incredibly intelligible and clear way the author explains complex science and makes breaking habits so very accessible to anyone who wants to take a leap of evidence-based faith (read it an you’ll get it). This book was honestly a great blessing I stumbled upon and which empowered and encouraged me to make some very much needed changes. The mind is a powerful tool and yours w If you have the faintest struggle with anxiety, worry, or addiction, now is the time to read this book. I’m in awe of the incredibly intelligible and clear way the author explains complex science and makes breaking habits so very accessible to anyone who wants to take a leap of evidence-based faith (read it an you’ll get it). This book was honestly a great blessing I stumbled upon and which empowered and encouraged me to make some very much needed changes. The mind is a powerful tool and yours will be even sharper once you work through this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

    Psychiatrist Judson Brewer says anxiety is a habit, and habits can be broken and replaced by other habits. Brewer explains how to practice habits of mindfulness, curiously, and kindness to “unwind” anxiety.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Really like the approach of identifying anxiety as a habit loop in your mind and going from there to decrease it. Great book and plan to incorporate the tactics!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bret

    This one has me torn. While I only rate it a 2/5, it has a ton of useful and interesting information. I'd probably recommend it to others as a result of all that info. I think I rated it 2/5 based on his writing style, which I found to be a bit distracting. I feel his editors did him a disservice. Example: he should use his own advice to break his addiction to parenthesis usage (which, more often than not, are not useful and tend to distract the reader). His writing is more blog-ish than book-ish This one has me torn. While I only rate it a 2/5, it has a ton of useful and interesting information. I'd probably recommend it to others as a result of all that info. I think I rated it 2/5 based on his writing style, which I found to be a bit distracting. I feel his editors did him a disservice. Example: he should use his own advice to break his addiction to parenthesis usage (which, more often than not, are not useful and tend to distract the reader). His writing is more blog-ish than book-ish, if that makes sense to anyone other than myself. The author seems like he would be a cool therapist to have, though. He seems to have effective ways to manage anxiety, all of which he has tried on himself. I can respect that.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Deeply disappointed by the final chapter. While I am sure it was personally enjoyable to the author to inject his political affiliation into the book and implicitly claim moral high ground for his "side" (because all kindness obviously resides on that side) and I am equally sure he gained feel-good pack bonding from doing so, he has damaged his opportunity to bridge the divide with information which should be free of such self gratification and implied superiority in order to reach the widest po Deeply disappointed by the final chapter. While I am sure it was personally enjoyable to the author to inject his political affiliation into the book and implicitly claim moral high ground for his "side" (because all kindness obviously resides on that side) and I am equally sure he gained feel-good pack bonding from doing so, he has damaged his opportunity to bridge the divide with information which should be free of such self gratification and implied superiority in order to reach the widest possible audience. I went from intrigued with the intent of going back through the book to mine out steps and processes that I did not retain on the first pass to feeling icked all over from being dragged back into the politicized quagmire of judgmental tribalism we are subjected to 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The final chapter is self-serving virtue signaling that is not compatible with the kindness that the author is promoting. It is not compatible with shedding tribalism which the author decries. It is not compatible with seeing people as people rather than as the "other," as "extremists." There is actually such a thing as an extremist out there and we are far too absorbed in hating people who like red-blue purple because we like blue-red purple to be able to identify the real extremists. I strongly suggest not reading past the header "Taking Extremism to the Extreme" in chapter 23. We don't need another burden of duty to be "kindness extremists" with people we don't agree with; we need to do the internal work of being okay with the fact that others don't agree with us. To use the parlance of the book, we need to stop rewarding the habit of tribalism evidenced in this very book. What do we get from tribalism? How about we get curious about what the other side thinks? How about we get curious about the real effects of virtue signaling? When we have done this work and learn that it is okay for people to hold opinions that we don't hold, that we do not need to jump up and down shouting our values so that we are not *gasp* possibly confused with the other side (which would obviously ruin our lives), and that kindness can look like many different things, then we will be able to identify the real extremists among us. They will be far fewer than we think right now and instead of a burden, a duty of kindness, kindness will already have bloomed, because after all, as the author notes, it's much more rewarding than meanness. I can recommend the other 22.5 chapters of the book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Z

    This was actually a lot more about addiction than anxiety, so not what I was looking for. The author might argue that anxiety is addiction, but eh. I also was not taken with the technique of curiously examining your feelings when you're feeling anxious...I can pretty well describe what I'm feeling, particularly physically, but that doesn't help me. The author would likely argue that I'm not going far enough, but again, eh. I can see this working for some people, but I didn't find it useful. Also This was actually a lot more about addiction than anxiety, so not what I was looking for. The author might argue that anxiety is addiction, but eh. I also was not taken with the technique of curiously examining your feelings when you're feeling anxious...I can pretty well describe what I'm feeling, particularly physically, but that doesn't help me. The author would likely argue that I'm not going far enough, but again, eh. I can see this working for some people, but I didn't find it useful. Also, be prepared to learn more about smoking/alcoholism/binge eating and maybe procrastination than anxiety.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Nagle

    3.5 -not usually one for self-help books but this caught my eye when I saw it was available as an audiobook from my library -I found the science-based portions very accessible and easy to understand, while at the same time very interesting -some of his suggestions and ideas about types of anxieties and anxiety as a habit really resonated with me, and I think they will be helpful in the future!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nettie

    The title of this book is very misleading. While it does talk about anxiety, it really is about unwinding habits that don’t serve a positive purpose. I listened to this whole I walked but will now buy a copy to have on hand and will listen to it a second time because there was so much to unpack. The biggest lesson was how important mindfulness is to living a purposeful life.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Karen E Carter

    For a book about anxiety, there’s not much that’s actually tailored to anxiety. There’s more about quitting smoking or overeating than anxiety. That being said, I think there’s a lot of useful information here and some practices that could work for a lot of different “problem areas” in my thinking. I’m excited to try things out.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nikhilesh

    You rarely get a book which gives practical advice on dealing with anxiety but is backed by sound scientific research. Unwinding anxiety manages to do both. Give it a go, it might just transform your life.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Some good stuff but little new. The tone and depth are also targeted to folks with very little science background. I'm sure very useful for some people. He does cool research. Maybe more for people with debilitating anxiety rather than normal human dread :) Some good stuff but little new. The tone and depth are also targeted to folks with very little science background. I'm sure very useful for some people. He does cool research. Maybe more for people with debilitating anxiety rather than normal human dread :)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Neely

    This book helps me, and I’m grateful that Brewer wrote it and that my library hold came up at the moment it did. This smart guide is grounded in decades of clinical practice and research, breezily accessible, and often funny. Lotta useful ideas and practices here.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Saw an interview with the author and was intrigued enough to check it out of the library. I'm intrigued by his apps for breaking the habit of mindless eating and stopping smoking (though I have never smoked.) Saw an interview with the author and was intrigued enough to check it out of the library. I'm intrigued by his apps for breaking the habit of mindless eating and stopping smoking (though I have never smoked.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nuni

    Good information on how to deal with addictive behaviors and bad habits used to cope with anxiety, like overeating and smoking, no so much on anxiety itself..... DNF- 40%

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This is more of a habit change book than an anxiety book, which is fine with me as a person without significant anxiety. It's science-based, practical, entertaining, and appropriately brief, so a fun listen. This is more of a habit change book than an anxiety book, which is fine with me as a person without significant anxiety. It's science-based, practical, entertaining, and appropriately brief, so a fun listen.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pedita Hall

    I like this book. I feel I need to try it out before I can add any more stars. I’m really hoping I can give it 5 stars, I want it to work to calm mt brain.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

    5/5 stars

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leanne

    Interesting. Learned a little more about the big "A." Interesting. Learned a little more about the big "A."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elle Williams

    Really 3.5, good book, echos a lot of what other books have said, all science based.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chi Chi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. greatt

  26. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Baker

    Clear, well written, concrete steps. Very helpful in understanding how anxiety can build.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christine Rinaldi

    Interesting theories that seem easy to practice

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan Fitzgerald

    Worth a read, if you suffer from bouts of anxiety and endless worry. The premise is that anxiety is, in part, a habit loop, that can be unwound through awareness of the loop (trigger, action, reward) and meditation. Another strategy in the arsenal of options for a common problem.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

  30. 5 out of 5

    Valeria

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