What a clear and straightforward book! The Book of Overthinking is akin to a workbook, an instruction manual, and a how-to guide for the individual who wants to overcome overthinking, aka worrying, and manage the anxiety that can affect personal well-being, relationships and work.
This book follows The Book of Knowing, also written by Gwendoline Smith, an Auckland psychologist, which seeks to explain how the mind works and uses CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) principles to manage a range of feelings for a healthier and happier life. This book has a very similar approach.
The book is very clearly structured: the first part gives some very simple definitions of overthinking and shows how our mind can approach situations and create worry; and the second part presents some straightforward strategies to apply to overcome overthinking when we recognise it and want to change it. I also found the book wrapped up very strongly, ending with a review of the techniques that a person can use to deal with worrying thoughts and a summary of the problem and solutions. There are also appendices with useful tools including flashcards of short, pithy statements to steer yourself away from overthinking , a list of the "thought viruses" that confuse or deceive us, and a template for recording thoughts that can be used to help to manage the dynamics of worrying in actual situations by distinguishing between the reality of a situation and the thoughts and feelings we attach to it.
This book is directed at teenagers and easily read by them, with quirky line drawings, very simple and direct explanations and clear examples. I can also see this book being used by parents and school counsellors and teachers as a resource, taking pieces out to highlight and discuss with teenagers. However it struck me that this is a useful book for adults as well. Whatever our age, we can all get trapped into the worry cycle and find our enjoyment of life, and our ability to function effectively , can be diminished. Dr Smith's voice is clear and direct, her tone positive and encouraging and the strategies outlined to deal with worry are practical and easy to follow. But as with any skill, it's a matter of putting it into practice!
I would highly recommend this book as an accessible, down-to-earth and practical tool for anyone with an interest in improving their mental health and understanding how the human mind works.
Reviewer: Clare Lyon
Allen & Unwin, RRP $24.99