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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Anxiety Coach by Michael Hawton

It isn’t hard to see that we are in a state of strife with our young people at the moment. There is an epidemic spreading rapidly around the nation, and indeed around the world, that centres on the levels of anxiety that our young people are experiencing as being an almost insurmountable mountain of stress. There is an urgent need for some kind of massive-scale intervention to protect our most vulnerable and equip them with the skills to thrive in such a high-paced and intense environment.

Michael Hawton is a psychologist based in Australia. His work has predominantly focused on the effects of anxiety and stress on children and young people, and he articulates the reasons he believes this is the case and explores some of the possible levers to pull to alleviate some of this level of anxiety. He refers to the ongoing stress levels presented to young people, from weather conditions, wars, increasing expectations on success rates at school etc. And then the pandemic hit.

Perhaps the best thing about this book is the simplicity with which Hawton explains the conditions and the situation as it stands. He is able to articulate, with clarity, some possible solutions to the problem that starts with the family and school being on the same page about addressing the issues.

Instructions like

  • Ensure they are in bed by a certain time - and up at a certain time

  • Enforce limits on their device usage

  • Strive to meaningfully eyeball your children every day

  • Ensure they get time outside, away from technology, by going for a walk or doing repetitive exercise, like swimming.

Giving both a sense of control and stability to the young person’s life are rooted in science. It may seem simple - and it is - but it is the continuity that can cause issues for families struggling to make ends meet with the modern stresses of time and money.

With the pace of life, it is really easy to become overwhelmed with advice coming from every corner. Sometimes it makes sense to focus on one method and stick to it. Create that continuity. Create that sense of structure and stability missing in nearly every other area of our young people’s lives.

This book opens your eyes to the challenges that we face as a society and provides both dire warnings if we let things go astray but also a range of possibilities to stem the tide of anxiety and start to fight back. And at the centre, the focus is on the simplest things in the world. Connection, time and love.

Reviewer: Chris Reed


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